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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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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

Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Concrete Offers Innovative Solutions for Civil Engineering

Illuminated pavilions on campus demonstrate the use of curved shell structures made of carbon fibre-reinforced concrete, a project of the Lightweight Construction Research Group at the TU Chemnitz

Concrete which is reinforced with textiles instead of steel combines many advantages: it saves raw materials, has high potential for lightweight construction,...

11.01.2016 | nachricht Read more

Drilling like lightning

95% of the geothermal water resources in Germany are situated in crystalline rock. Existing drilling methods, however, are only able to advance slowly though this hard rock and the drill bits wear out quickly. The BINE Projektinfo brochure “Electric impulses fragment hard rock” (13/2015) presents an alternative drilling procedure. Here, a high-voltage impulse fragments the rock. This method causes little wear to the drill bits and enables up to 30% lower drilling costs.

New process uses high voltage for deep geothermal drilling

02.12.2015 | nachricht Read more

Hospital energy centre connected with heating network

Working in conjunction with Giessen’s municipal utility company, Giessen and Marburg University Hospital has become the first German hospital to integrate its energy centre into an urban district heating network. The core of the combined cooling, heating and power plant is provided by four cogeneration modules that produce electricity and heat. The BINE Projektinfo brochure 12/2015 “Energy centre supplies Giessen University Hospital” describes the initial operating experiences.

The newly developed trigeneration plant reduces CO2 by around a third

26.11.2015 | nachricht Read more

Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

25.11.2015 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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