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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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Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Moves from the Niche to the Mass Market

Industrial manufacture of solar building components and their integration into the building planning process

The majority of photovoltaic (PV) systems in Germany are roof-mounted using a mounting system to fix the modules. On the other hand, solar PV modules that are...

13.03.2019 | nachricht Read more

Seeing Through the Stones of Cathedrals

Bamberg heritage conservationists develop new imaging process

The cathedrals of Cologne, Pisa, Ghent, Vitoria-Gasteiz und Vienna are up to one thousand years old, and they are all victims of the ravages of time. Even the...

07.03.2019 | nachricht Read more

Building digitally, living digitally

DFAB HOUSE has officially opened today on the NEST building of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf. It is the world's first inhabited "house" that was not only digitally planned, but also – with the help of robots and 3D printers – built largely digitally. The construction technologies were developed by ETH Zurich researchers in collaboration with industrial partners.

A delicate concrete ceiling – cast in 3D-printed formwork – and a curved concrete wall created by a construction robot characterize the architecture of the...

27.02.2019 | nachricht Read more

Proposed engineering method could help make buildings and bridges safer

Researchers at Kanazawa University discover how to make pearlite stretch or contract more by changing the distance between irregularities in atomic arrangements along its nanolayer boundaries

Pearlitic steel, or pearlite, is one of the strongest materials in the world and can be made into thin and long wires. The strength of pearlite allows it to...

22.01.2019 | nachricht Read more

Preserving soil quality in the long term

Spatial planning tools, agriculture and forestry that suit local conditions, nationwide soil mapping, and a more committed and coherent soil policy are the cornerstones of the measures put forward by the National Research Programme “Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource” (NRP 68) to safeguard soil quality in Switzerland in the long term.

By virtue of its properties, soil fulfils a wide variety of functions. Its value to society – in agriculture and forestry, drinking water production,...

17.12.2018 | nachricht Read more

New Generation of Cleaning Tools for CSP Plants Reduces the Water Consumption

Tower & Parabolic Trough plants are the most common plants worldwide. ECILIMP Termosolar has developed a new generation of cleaning tools for CSP plants during the Horizon2020 MinWaterCSP project (Minimized Water Consumption in CSP plants). The EU funded project solution has been entirely developed in Spain and tested both in Spain and Morocco.

The optimization of cleaning water consumption in CSP plants is a huge effort considering these plants are increasing their mirror surface (size) while...

09.11.2018 | nachricht Read more

memory-steel - a new material for the strengthening of buildings

A new building material developed at Empa is about to be launched on the market: "memory-steel" can not only be used to reinforce new, but also existing concrete structures. When the material is heated (one-time), prestressing occurs automatically. The Empa spin-off re-fer AG is now presenting the material with shape memory in a series of lectures.

So far, the steel reinforcements in concrete structures are mostly prestressed hydraulically. This re-quires ducts for guiding the tension cables, anchors for...

23.10.2018 | nachricht Read more

Why does concrete swell and crack?

When bridges, dam walls and concrete foundations form cracks, AAR is often the culprit: the alkali-aggregate reaction. It causes the concrete to swell and renders renovations or even reconstructions necessary. A project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and coordinated by Empa is studying the “concrete disease”.

Unfortunately, concrete does not last forever. The ravages of time also take their toll on concrete structures in Switzerland. Not only are reinforced...

05.10.2018 | nachricht Read more

A new way of thinking for the built environment

The Cluster of Excellence “Intergrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture” at the University of Stuttgart aims to harness the full potential of digital technologies in order to rethink design and construction, and enable groundbreaking innovations for the building sector through a systematic, holistic and integrative computational approach.

New buildings will need to be constructed for an additional 2.6 billion people worldwide over the next 35 years. Yet the productivity of the building industry...

01.10.2018 | nachricht Read more

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

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

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