I was first introduced to Passivhaus several year back when we decided to pursue it in the architect’s practice where I work. It seemed like the right step forward in so many ways. However, learning about the Passivhaus Standard and everything that is required for certification, presented many challenges. There were some technical challenges, but probably the biggest challenges were to the received wisdom that I held firmly onto at the time.

This somewhat tongue-in-cheek post explores some of those mindset challenges with the benefit of hindsight. It also explores some other mindset challenges that arise from delivering passivhaus architecture.

010 10 Things I hate About Passivhaus

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The Passivhaus Standard sometimes gets confused with a passive solar design approach, particularly when it comes to solar orientation. This often means people assume that solar orientation is critical for passivhaus, like it is for passive solar design.

On the other hand, sometimes those who particularly favour a passive solar approach assume that the opposite is true. That solar orientation doesn’t matter at all for passivhaus. And if you pick up a book on passivhaus, such as the one I reviewed last week, solar orientation doesn’t feature in the list of key methods or principles.

So which is it?

The key to passivhaus is an integrated approach to design. Solar orientation does matter for passivhaus. However, it doesn’t need to be the driving factor.

Solar orientation impacts on solar gain. The importance of solar gain depends on the type of building. (Passivhaus isn’t just for houses, remember?) And windows have other purposes besides heating!

009 Passivhaus Solar Orientation

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This blog post is a review of An Introduction to Passive House by Justin Bere published in December 2013. Justin Bere, a pioneering passivhaus architect in the UK, wrote and compiled this slim and beautifully presented volume.

This is first and foremost a book addressed to the architectural industry, as Dr. Wolfgang Feist writes in the foreword:

Justin Bere uses the language of an architect … and shows how Passive House opens up new possibilities for creative design.

The two key themes for the book are set in the Preface:

  • Integrated Design for the 21st century, that is to say, for the anthropocene, and
  • Building Physics – using the right tools & process to eliminate guesswork

The following sections of the book pack in a wealth of interesting and useful context, history, introductory technical guidance and wide-ranging inspirational case studies.

Throughout the book there are reminders, directly and indirectly, that architecture must also be beautiful to be successful.

008 Passivhaus-Architects-Intro-JBere

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