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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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New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities

NSF advisory committee assesses ongoing transformation of our increasingly urban planet

In 1950, fewer than one-third of the world's people lived in cities. Today more than half do. By 2050, urban areas will be home to some two-thirds of Earth's...

24.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Insulating bricks with microscopic bubbles

Better thermal insulation means lower heating costs - but this should not be at the expense of exciting architecture. A new type of brick filled with aerogel could make thin and highly insulating walls possible in the future - without any additional insulation layer.

The calculation is simple: the better a building is insulated, the less heat is lost in winter - and the less energy is needed to achieve a comfortable room...

16.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Magnetic liquids improve energy efficiency of buildings

Materials scientists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, develop smart windows for controlled shading and solar thermal energy harvesting

Climate protection and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions have been on top of global development agendas. Accordingly, research and development projects...

16.01.2018 | nachricht Read more

Smart buildings through innovative membrane roofs and façades

The Cooperative Research Project FLEX-G started on June 1, 2017 under the federal construction technology initiative named ENERGIEWENDEBAUEN funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (FR 03ET1470A). The main goal of the research project is to investigate technologies for the manufacturing of translucent and transparent membrane roof and façade elements with integrated optoelectronic components. The focus lies on a switchable total energy transmittance (often referred to as the solar factor or solar heat gain and “g-value” in Europe) and on flexible solar cell integration to significantly contribute to both energy saving and power generation in buildings.

Solar modules and a variety of energy management systems are well established in small and large buildings to optimize their energy balance both by generating...

31.08.2017 | nachricht Read more

Concrete from wood

Researchers from the National Research Programme "Resource Wood" have developed a type of concrete that largely consists of wood. The building material offers the construction industry new possibilities and is based in large part on renewable resources.

Houses can be made of wood, as they were in the past – or of concrete, as they are today. To build for tomorrow, the two building methods are being combined:...

05.07.2017 | nachricht Read more

Modular storage tank for tight spaces

It takes large thermal storage tanks to heat apartment buildings highly efficiently. To install them, they have to fit through standard door openings in existing buildings. The BINE Projektinfo 3/2017 “Large storage tank developed for small spaces” introduces a model that makes this easy. It consists of multiple modules and has lower heat losses than the cascade storage systems previously used.

The thermal storage tank is not fully assembled until it reaches the boiler room

16.03.2017 | nachricht Read more

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

The EU project “LISTEN” creates a robust, hands-free speech control interface for smart home systems. During the recent project review meeting, the partners from Germany, Greece, and Italy demonstrated a real-time, matchbox-size, smart-home-specific natural voice interface to web services. “LISTEN” bridges the gap between microphone array networks, signal processing and speech recognition.

Wouldn´t it be convenient to control heating or cooling, lighting, and media anywhere in your home by just using your voice, without any device in your hand?...

17.01.2017 | nachricht Read more

Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

16.01.2017 | nachricht Read more

How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

11.01.2017 | nachricht Read more

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
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

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