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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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Living bridges: How traditional Indian building techniques can make modern cities more climate-friendly

Dense, humid broadleaf forests, monsoon-swollen rivers and deep ravines – in the Indian state of Meghalaya wooden bridges easily decay or are washed away in floodwaters. Bridges made from steel and concrete are pushed to their limits here as well. But bridges made of living tree roots can survive here for centuries. Prof. Ferdinand Ludwig of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has investigated these special structures and proposes integrating this extraordinary building technique in modern architecture.

Inaccessible valleys and ravines lead from the North East Indian Meghalaya plateau to the wide plains of Bangladesh. In the monsoon months the mountain streams...

18.11.2019 | nachricht Read more

Corrosion - Slow Decay

"Corrosion" comes from Latin "corrodere": to gnaw something to pieces. This refers to the gradual destruction of a sub- stance due to the influence of other substances in the environment. Specialists at Empa take a close look at such processes and can find timely ways to prevent material failure due to corrosion – long before disasters such as those in Genoa occur.

The owner of a new Swiss industrial facility for the production of high-tech machinery was faced with a mystery: Kilometres of brand new stainless steel and...

22.10.2019 | nachricht Read more

Switch2save: smart windows and glass façades for highly efficient energy management

Smart Glass Solutions – such as electrochromic (EC) and thermochromic (TC) windows and glass façades –control the radiation energy transfer with the "touch of a button" and thus can drastically reduce the energy demands for heating and air conditioning of large buildings. On 1st October 2019, the EU-funded initiative "Switch2save" was launched to improve the availability and affordability of EC and TC smart glass technologies. The consortium of ten partners from research and industry will demonstrate the energy saving potential of smart glass solutions in two fully-operational buildings.

Climate change is a topic now on everyone's lips and climate targets are being discussed at all levels. Solutions such as the use of natural resources for...

15.10.2019 | nachricht Read more

Switch2Save: smart windows and glass façades for highly efficient energy management using novel switching technologies

On October 1, 2019, the EU-funded initiative “Switch2Save” was launched to improve the availability and affordability of electrochromic and thermochromic smart glass technologies. The consortium of ten partners from research and industry will demonstrate the energy saving potential of smart glass solutions in two fully-operational buildings.

Climate change is a topic now on everyone's lips and climate targets are being discussed at all levels. Solutions such as the use of natural resources for...

04.10.2019 | nachricht Read more

Wood that Shapes Itself

Report in Science Advances: Sophisticated modelling technology opens up new avenues in timber construction and digital design.

Researchers from the University of Stuttgart, ETH Zurich and the Swiss Empa have presented a method with which wood panels themselves bend into a previously...

16.09.2019 | nachricht Read more

For a better climate in the cities: Start-up develops maintenance-free, evergreen moss façades

Air pollution is increasing in many cities. It is also getting warmer and warmer and flooding occurs during heavy rain because the surfaces are sealed. Therefore, new concepts are needed to ensure that cities remain livable for their inhabitants, including more green spaces that ensure a pleasant climate and keep the air clean. The greening of façades is also important. A start-up of Technische Universität Kaiserslautern has developed a system for green façades that is maintenance-free and, thanks to moss, self-greening. The founders market this system through their company "Artificial Ecosystems". For their idea, they were awarded 1st place in the Rhineland-Palatinate Ideas Prize 2019.

Around 400 million years ago, mosses formed on Earth. Unlike other plants, they do not have roots. "They filter their nutrients out of the air," says botanist...

25.06.2019 | nachricht Read more

5G transmission masts made of wood for an attractive and sustainable cityscape

The new 5G radio standard is intended to make our communication and data transmission considerably faster and more efficient. For this to be possible, a sufficient number of transmission masts are needed. In a seminar held in the Department of Architecture at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, participants discussed the possible design of these masts. For their models, the students have opted for the environmentally friendly material wood. The best designs are currently being constructed. Over the next few weeks, it is planned to install them as part of a pilot project in Kaiserslautern.

5G transmission masts have to be distributed throughout the entire area in order to ensure reliable data transmission. In order not to adversely affect the...

20.05.2019 | nachricht Read more

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

Im Focus: Electron cryo-microscopy: Using inexpensive technology to produce high-resolution images

Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".

Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

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