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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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When Concrete learns to pre-stress itself

Concrete is by far the most widely used building material in the world – and the trend is rising. Using a new type of concrete formula, an Empa team has succeeded in producing self-prestressed concrete elements. This innovation makes it possible to build lean structures much more cost-effectively – and save material at the same time.

More than ten billion tonnes of concrete are produced and used worldwide every year. This is more than all other building materials combined. By way of...

15.07.2020 | nachricht Read more

TU Graz researchers want to fundamentally improve concrete diagnostics

Under the scientific direction of Graz University of Technology, an Austrian consortium is working on new investigation methods for rapid and precise assessments of concrete structures.

Whether crumbling tunnel walls, cracks in concrete facades or porous bridge piers, according to statistics from the National Association of Corrosion Engineers...

29.06.2020 | nachricht Read more

The digital construction site: A smarter way of building with mobile robots

Researchers are working with a mobile robotic platform called Husky A200 that could be used for autonomous logistic tasks on construction sites. This mobile robot is one of many projects pursued by the Fraunhofer Italia Innovation Engineering Center to advance the cause of digitalization in construction and bridge the gap between robotics and the building industry. Researchers at this center based in Bolzano, Italy, are developing a software interface that will enable mobile robots to find their way around in construction sites.

Demand for affordable living space has gone through the roof. Developers embarking on large, complex construction projects need efficient solutions that save...

02.06.2020 | nachricht Read more

Double helix of masonry -- Researchers discover the secret of Italian renaissance domes

In a collaborative study in this month's issue of Engineering Structures, researchers at Princeton University and the University of Bergamo revealed the engineering techniques behind self-supporting masonry domes inherent to the Italian renaissance. Researchers analyzed how cupolas like the famous duomo, part of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, were built as self-supporting, without the use of shoring or forms typically required.

Sigrid Adriaenssens, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton, collaborated on the analysis with graduate student Vittorio Paris and...

18.05.2020 | nachricht Read more

Stuttgart light rail bridge hangs on Swiss carbon ropes

Another milestone for an extremely versatile material with Swiss roots: On May 3, a 127-meter-long railway bridge will be pushed over the A8 motorway near Stuttgart, its 72 suspension cables consisting entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). This ultra-light yet extremely stable material was developed largely at Empa and has since been used in more and more structures.

On the night of Sunday, May 3, a spectacular bridge-building event will take place in Stuttgart: Stuttgarter Strassenbahnen AG (SSB) is extending the U6 light...

01.05.2020 | nachricht Read more

ArKol Project: Tapping into the Thermal Potential of Façades

About 40 percent of the primary energy consumption in Germany is used for space heating and warm water. Facades which function as a “thermal wall” can help bring on the transformation of our heating system, yet they have been given little attention up to now. In the ArKol project, a research consortium led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has developed two novel solar thermal façade collectors: a solar thermal strip collector and a solar thermal jalousie. As an integral part of the façade, both elements offer an architecturally pleasing experience.

The project “ArKol – Development of architecturally aesthetic, integrated façade collectors with Heat Pipes,” just ended in February 2020. The project focused...

25.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Research made easy: DFKI spin-off “baukobox” helps architects with detailed planning

Knowing and understanding constructive details is essential for students and architects, but at the same time it is associated with costly and time-consuming research. The knowledge platform “baukobox” (an artificial word made up of the terms building construction and construction box) shortens this process. It is both a source of inspiration and a digital tool for construction details and component information.

The web-based application was realized as a user-friendly platform by former employees of the TU Kaiserslautern (TUK) and the German Research Center for...

03.03.2020 | nachricht Read more

Two NE tree species can be used in new sustainable building material

UMass Amherst study tested strength of mass timber panels created from eastern white pine and eastern hemlock

Two tree species native to the Northeast have been found to be structurally sound for use in cross-laminated timber (CLT) - a revolutionary new type of...

28.02.2020 | nachricht Read more

Mobile smart homes and expanded living labs: DFKI and TU Berlin make the future of living more accessible

With commercial smart home gadgets, a connected living is already possible today – but aims less at people that would especially profit from intelligent assistance. In order to create a close exchange with the society in their research of smart everyday objects, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and the Technical University of Berlin develop a new living lab infrastructure as a realistic test environment that present the advantages of the future living to the public. The team presents the project KosmoS, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with roughly 1.1 million Euros, at a networking meeting today.

Turning one’s own four walls into a smart home is not a matter of the future anymore: speech-controlled assistants, intelligent gadgets and digital locks...

19.02.2020 | nachricht Read more

Pollination is better in cities than in the countryside

Flowering plants are better pollinated in urban than in rural areas. This has now been demonstrated experimentally by researchers in central Germany. Although the scientists found a greater diversity of flying insects in the countryside, more bees in cities resulted in more pollinated flowers of test plants. By far the most industrious pollinators were bumble bees, most likely benefitting from the abundant habitats available in the city. To promote pollination, the researchers recommend to take into greater account the needs of bees when landscape planning – both in cities and in the countryside. Their results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Cities all over the world are expanding. A number of studies have already shown that the conversion of natural areas into built land affects insects and, while...

29.01.2020 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
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Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

Im Focus: Manipulating non-magnetic atoms in a chromium halide enables tuning of magnetic properties

New approach creates synthetic layered magnets with unprecedented level of control over their magnetic properties

The magnetic properties of a chromium halide can be tuned by manipulating the non-magnetic atoms in the material, a team, led by Boston College researchers,...

Im Focus: A new method to significantly increase the range and stability of optical tweezers

Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with a team of the V.E. Zuev Institute of Atmospheric Optics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have discovered a method to increase the operation range of optical traps also known

Optical tweezers are a device which uses a laser beam to move micron-sized objects such as living cells, proteins, and molecules. In 2018, the American...

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