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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.

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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

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

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