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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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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

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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.

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06.11.2015 | nachricht Read more

The Growth and Decline of Cities in Germany: Novel Visualisations of Urban Change

Innovative maps that illustrate the most recent socio-demographic urban changes in the major city urban agglomerations in Germany have very recently been produced in a joint project of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford and the Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development Dortmund (Germany).

The Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development (Institut für Landes- und Stadtentwicklungsforschung, ILS) investigates new social processes,...

29.10.2015 | nachricht Read more

Aspern: The City Next Door

Austria’s capital is spawning a new city in which buildings, the electrical grid and the electricity market will be networked to create and evaluate synergistic efficiencies. The vision behind the project: Creation of a world-class living laboratory in which energy-saving technologies and new distribution grid solutions can be tested and optimized according to the requirements of future electricity markets.

A former airfield on the northeastern outskirts of Vienna, Austria is providing a test bed for technologies that could make cities increasingly energy...

15.10.2015 | nachricht Read more

Brilliant decorative solid-state thin films for metallic coverings and facades

For the first time, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP will be presenting various large-area decorative solid-state thin films on metal surfaces during the V2015 (October 12 – 15, 2015, Dresden, Wyndham Garden Hotel, booth No. 5).

Metallic surfaces must be able to meet many requirements: they should, for instance, be scratch-resistant, water-repellent, matte or antibacterial. For the...

21.09.2015 | nachricht Read more

Smarter window materials can control light and energy

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.

By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...

23.07.2015 | nachricht Read more

University of Cincinnati, industry partners develop low-cost, 'tunable' window tintings

Technology developed by the University of Cincinnati and industry partners can do something that neither blinds nor existing smart windows can do. This patent-pending research, supported by the National Science Foundation, will lead to low-cost window tinting which dynamically adapts for brightness, color temperatures and opacity (to provide for privacy while allowing light in).

A partnership between the University of Cincinnati, Hewlett Packard, and EMD/Merck Research Labs has resulted in a patent-pending breakthrough in 'tunable'...

11.06.2015 | nachricht Read more

More densely populated urban areas call for more urban quality

If urban sprawl is to be stopped, the use of developed areas needs to be intensified. The results of the now completed National Research Programme "New Urban Quality" (NRP 65) show new ways of remodelling suburban areas. Developing building and land use in suburban areas will improve quality of life and efficiency in the densely populated Swiss plateau.

To stop urban sprawl and protect landscapes, suburban areas in Switzerland need to develop inwards. This strategy is widely accepted and has political backing....

28.05.2015 | nachricht Read more
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Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

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