Passivhaus overheating shouldn’t happen: it’s one of the criteria of the international Passivhaus standard.

Even so, people sometimes ignore this requirement during the early stages of the design process.

It shouldn’t be ignored. Overheating is a key design issue and should be addressed from the beginning as an integral part of the Passivhaus design process.

But how?

This blog post is a simple guide to preventing Passivhaus overheating by design.

047 Passivhaus Overheating Design

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This blog post is a review of the 3rd, revised edition of “Details for Passive Houses: A Catalogue of Ecologically Rated Constructions” published in 2009. This book is edited by the IBO, the Austrian Institute for Healthy and Ecological Building. It is a large and hefty hardcover tome at 3.2 x 24.8 x 35.6 centimetres.

People often ask if there is a catalogue of suitable details for Passivhaus construction. There isn’t one, at least not in English, that I am aware of. Of course, this might be because it is possible to build a Passivhaus with almost any construction system, so such a catalogue would be a huge undertaking. However, this book is the closest thing there is to such a catalogue.

The purpose of “Details for Passive Houses: A Catalogue of Ecologically Rated Constructions” is twofold; to provide an ecological evaluation of a range of Passivhaus-suitable construction details and to suggest alternatives that “illustrate the possibilities and limitations of ecologically motivated material selections.

The book contains 130 Passivhaus construction details, with assembly cross-sections and junction details. The details are beautifully illustrated to scale in four colours throughout.

Details for Passive Houses: A Catalogue of Ecologically Rated Constructions” is an excellent reference for successful Passivhaus construction detailing.

Successful Passivhaus Construction Details Cover

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Design and build procurement routes have been particularly popular in the UK for large scale Passivhaus projects. Clients, often public bodies, want the benefits that Passivhaus brings, but are wary of the delivery risks in a relatively immature Passivhaus market. Using a design and build procurement route allows the client to pass the majority of the risks to the contractor. The client may pay a higher price for this, but theoretically, it offers more certainty of cost and time.

However, using a design and build procurement route can offer the greatest potential for an integrated design approach. And this is beneficial for a Passivhaus building project. When it is done right, the full design and construction teams can collaborate to develop a highly integrated solution. Unfortunately, when not done right, design and build procurement can conflict with an integrated design approach.

This blog post looks at three situations where design and build procurement can conflict with Passivhaus;

  1. Design scope mismatch
  2. Consultants timelines out of sync
  3. Tender design overconstrained

These situations can cause issues with any building project and may increase costs and delivery time. For a Passivhaus building project, these situations may additionally jeopardise achieving the standard.

Passivhaus design and build procurement: avoid situations that conflict with an integrated design approach.

Procurement Conflicts with Passivhaus

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This blog post is a review of “The Passivhaus Designer’s Manual: A technical guide to low and zero energy buildings” published in October 2015 and edited by Christina J. Hopfe and Robert S. Mcleod. Until now, there hasn’t been an English language manual for Passivhaus Designers. Training courses include relevant teaching material, but it is only available for course attendees and makes the most sense in the context of the course. This book covers all the main topics of a Passivhaus Designer course in an accessible and technically detailed format.

It is intended to provide a technical reference on important topics that often require more detailed explanations than can be found in most introductory handbooks. It is assumed that those reading the book will already be familiar with the fundamental principles of low energy design.

It is a design-focussed manual, bringing the academic and practice-based knowledge of the long list of authors together into one volume. Suitable background information is provided for each topic, but the main thrust is towards practical application in designing Passivhaus, or low and ‘zero-energy’ buildings.

Passive buildings are not all about technology. Their greatest benefits are not in avoided costs and emissions but in quality of life. Why did people meeting around our dining room table stay alert and cheerful all day, than in an ordinary office, become sleepy and irritable in half an hour?
– Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

The Passivhaus Designer’s Manual could easily be the textbook for a Passivhaus Designers course. It will certainly become the reference book of choice for many Passivhaus Designers and the source of self-study for many aspiring Passivhaus Designers

042 Passivhaus Designers Manual sm
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Where is all the timber needed to construct more Passivhaus buildings going to come from?

This was a question (paraphrased) asked by a person at a recent presentation I gave about the international Passivhaus Standard. They were clearly under the impression that it was easier / better / necessary to use a timber frame construction system to build to the standard.

I shouldn’t have been surprised since I was presenting on behalf of Architype, where I work. Architype are leaders in designing Passivhaus buildings and timber buildings, so the majority of the Passivhaus buildings I presented were timber construction.

It is a common misconception that timber is best for Passivhaus construction.

Ironically, there is also a misconception that ‘natural materials’ are not suitable for Passivhaus, therefore ruling out the use of timber.

Neither is true!

The international Passivhaus Standard is a performance standard: many different construction systems are possible.

041 Passivhaus Construction Not Just Timber
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