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What is a passive house and how is the architecture designed?

There are many reasons to build a passive house. The most important are related to the cost advantages you enjoy by building a passive house. The architecture of a passive house is designed so that the basic needs of the home owner, with respect to energy supply, are autonomously controlled. As the term "passive" implies, regulating the energy balance requires no action on your part. This capability stems from the architecture of the house. Roughly 8,000 people in Germany have meanwhile taken advantage of this architecture to build a passive house. But how does a passive house function and what is the respective architecture basically made of? The architecture is typically designed so that the outer shell of the passive house is insulated to keep the heat from escaping outside.

The passive house runs on its own

When building a passive house, a ventilation system acts to additional recover 80 percent of the heat. The roof of a passive house is designed to capture additional heat and store it until the room temperature sinks enough so that it must be released. Related studies have shown that a passive house constantly maintains an indoor temperature of more than 20°C at an outside temperature of -14°C. A passive house provides the freedom to individualize the architecture. The owner can decide whether to build the house out of concrete/brick, wood or a combination. The architecture always depends on the architect and the individual plan. However, there are several factors to consider when building a passive house.

The characteristics of a passive house thanks to its architecture

Passive houses exhibit specific characteristics that are tied to the architecture. The external building components must be extremely well insulated in addition to carefully constructing the corners, edges, joints and other cross sections. This would otherwise lead to excessive heat loss and failure of the architecture to fulfill the desired requirements. By taking these factors into account and using the right approach to building a passive house, one can expect a minimal heat loss of only .15 watts per square meter of external surface area. If you are building a house, the architecture should be designed to maximize the energy gain through the solar cells. For this reason, the solar cells on the roof of the passive house must have a southerly orientation.

To build a passive house, it should be designed such that the respective solar collectors and heat pumps supply power to the hot water system. When building a passive house and using the appropriate architecture, you can expect to significantly lower your operating costs.

Lower the operating costs

The architecture is what makes it possible for you to build a passive house and to have a complete energy system that runs on its own. While more and more people are dreaming of building a house, it always involves high costs. With the right architecture, you can build a passive house assuming that you will benefit from significantly lower monthly operating costs. This approach allows you to build to a house that runs completely on its own thanks to the corresponding high-quality architecture . Because the architecture is so well thought-out, you can build this house under the assumption that the heating balance will regulate itself. For this reason, you can assume that building a house is a worthwhile effort.

Architecture and Construction

Here you can discover new and innovative developments from the world of building design and construction.

innovations-report offers reports and articles on a variety of topics such as building optimization, modern construction materials, energy-efficient construction, natural insulation materials and passive buildings.

Latest News:

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Flexible protection for "smart" building and façade components

Successful conclusion of BMBF funded research project "flex 25" enables novel fluoropolymer film applications on buildings and façades

The trend in architecture and facility management is towards "smart" buildings which, by means of integrated flexible electronics, automatically react on...

30.11.2016 | nachricht Read more

Healthy living without damp and mold

The Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP has been studying the effects of mold for decades. Its scientists carry out intensive research on solutions and tools for preventing, combating, classifying and evaluating the mold caused by moisture. Using a baseline survey, the scientists are now showing how widespread mold and moisture problems are in German and European homes and what effects they have on people and buildings. In this way, they are confirming the need for continuous research and further innovative solutions.

Mold infestation is not a rare phenomenon. In Germany alone, some 10 percent of all structural damage to buildings is related to mold. If the building is not...

16.11.2016 | nachricht Read more

Rock solid: Carbon-reinforced concrete from Augsburg

Chemists at the University of Augsburg have discovered how to manufacture an extremely strong cement at reasonable cost through use of aligned short carbon fibres

Prof. Dr. Dirk Volkmer and fellow scientists from the Chair of Solid State and Materials Chemistry at the University of Augsburg have published a report in the...

11.10.2016 | nachricht Read more

Heating and cooling with environmental energy

Environmental energy provides an efficient way to supply energy to non-residential buildings such as office and administration buildings, educational and recreational facilities as well as industrial sheds. The buildings can be efficiently heated and cooled using the combined use of thermo-active building systems and heat pumps. Across 24 pages, the new BINE-Themeninfo brochure entitled "Efficiently heating & cooling non-residential buildings" (II/2016) presents low-exergy concepts for these buildings.

In these concepts, the environmental heat sources, heating and cooling technology in the building and the comfort requirements of the users are matched as...

22.09.2016 | nachricht Read more

Working comfortably in summer heat

Many existing office and administrative buildings are not air conditioned. This makes it all the more difficult to concentrate on work with increasing temperatures. Scientists have therefore analysed which measures can be used to improve user satisfaction. The BINE-Projektinfo brochure "Keeping a cool head in the summer heat" (04/2016) presents investigations and models to assess the thermal comfort.

Improving thermal comfort in non-air-conditioned buildings

02.06.2016 | nachricht Read more

NEST: building of the future is up and running

A unique research and innovation platform has opened its doors: on 23 May 2016, the modular experimental building NEST was inaugurated on the Dübendorf campus of the two research institutes Empa and Eawag. Its official goal: to accelerate the innovation process in the building and energy sector by enabling research, industry and the public sector to co-develop sustainable technologies, materials and systems and test them under real-world conditions.

A residential building, office block and experimental laboratory all rolled into one: NEST is a “living lab” in the truest sense of the word. Those who live in...

23.05.2016 | nachricht Read more

Designing buildings with a positive energy balance

Until now most existing buildings have been pure energy consumers: the electricity comes from the power grid and the heat from a boiler, heat pump or heating network. However, buildings have a range of possibilities available to them to generate the energy they need by themselves.

The BINE Themen-info brochure “Net Zero Energy and Net Energy Plus Buildings” presents the various concepts. One focus is on how the energy balance for these...

18.03.2016 | nachricht Read more

Simulating future noise in order to prevent it

Noise is disturbing and can be harmful to health. Empa researchers have now succeeded in simulating road noise by means of «auralisation». The aim is to make noise audible along traffic routes that are merely in the planning stage – and thus include countermeasures at the same time.

Noise is disturbing and can be harmful to health. Empa researchers have now succeeded in simulating road noise by means of «auralisation». The aim is to make...

23.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

Morgenstadt: City Insights innovation network is partnering with the Argentinian capital

This year, Buenos Aires became a partner in the Morgenstadt: City Insights innovation network. In collaboration with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the city will be conducting projects focusing on resource and energy efficiency, climate protection, and sustainable mobility. The Argentinian metropolis is the first South American city to join the innovation network.

Megatrends such as climate change, resource scarcity, demographic change and rising affluence are changing our cities.

22.02.2016 | nachricht Read more

SCHOTT to show restoration glasses that meet modern requirements at "Monumento"

The restoration glasses TIKANA®, RESTOVER® and GOETHEGLAS will be focused by the technology group SCHOTT at its premiere at Monumento, the trade fair on monument preservation, to be held in Salzburg, Austria, from January 28 - 30, 2016 (Hall 10, Booth 124). With these types of products that are produced using authentic techniques, architects cannot only restore original historical monuments from different eras. These glasses can also be processed in many ways and thus help to meet contemporary constructional requirements and capabilities –from UV protection to thermal insulation.

The restoration of old monuments is a delicate task for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it is of high importance for the monument preservation...

26.01.2016 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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