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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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Supported by software, Kaiserslautern architects assemble wooden dome like a puzzle

Wood is becoming increasingly popular as a sustainable building material. At the Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK), the team led by Assistant Professor Dr Christopher Robeller has developed software that calculates how, for example, complex wooden building parts can best be assembled from individual parts, similar to a puzzle. A milling machine manufactures the parts according to these specifications. They only have to be assembled afterwards. What is special: Only wood is used, also connecting elements are made of natural material. This is how the researchers recently built a dome. Construction companies could use the technology by means of apps to build quickly and sustainably.

People have been using wood for constructing buildings material for thousands of years. While the material has tended to fall behind in recent years, demand...

19.09.2018 | nachricht Read more

Construction Impact Guide

Wie lassen sich negative Auswirkungen von Baustellen in Innenstädten reduzieren? Mit diesem Thema hat sich Prof. Dr. Benjamin Bierwirth von der Hochschule RheinMain im Rahmen des Forschungsprojekts „Construction Impact Guide“ (CIG) beschäftigt und ein Wirkmodell entwickelt.

Große Baustellen in Innenstädten haben häufig Auswirkungen auf das direkte Umfeld, auf Anwohner, Geschäfte und den Verkehr. Mit diesem Thema hat sich Prof. Dr....

18.05.2018 | nachricht Read more

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

Im Focus: Working the switches for axon branching

Our brain is a complex network with innumerable connections between cells. Neuronal cells have long thin extensions, so-called axons, which are branched to increase the number of interactions. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have collaborated with researchers from Portugal and France to study cellular branching processes. They demonstrated a novel mechanism that induces branching of microtubules, an intracellular support system. The newly discovered dynamics of microtubules has a key role in neuronal development. The results were recently published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

From the twigs of trees to railroad switches – our environment teems with rigid branched objects. These objects are so omnipresent in our lives, we barely...

Im Focus: Hygiene at your fingertips with the new CleanHand Network

The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).

Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

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