This is a Passivhaus Basics blog post that gives an overview of a specific aspect of the Passivhaus Standard.

The Passivhaus Standard requires a fabric first approach and a high-performance thermal envelope. Not only does the thermal envelope need to be high performance, it also needs to have an efficient surface area in relation to the size of the building. The thermal envelope is, after all, the main area through which a Passivhaus building can lose heat.

The Heat Loss Form Factor is one way of measuring the efficiency of the surface area of the thermal envelope.

The Heat Loss Form Factor is the ratio of thermal envelope surface area to the treated floor area (TFA). This is effectively the ratio of surface area that can lose heat (the thermal envelope) to the floor area that gets heated (TFA).

In other words, the Heat Loss Form Factor is a useful measure of the compactness of a building. And the more compact a building is, the easier it is to be energy efficient. Conversely, the less compact a building is, the more insulation will be required for the building to be energy efficient.

The Heat Loss Form Factor is a measure of compactness and an indication of how much insulation will be required to achieve the Passivhaus Standard.

Passivhaus Heat Loss Form Factor

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This is a Passivhaus Basics blog post that gives an overview of a specific aspect of the Passivhaus Standard.

In passivhaus design and construction, there are frequent references to the “building envelope” and the “thermal envelope.” Neither are exclusive to the Passivhaus Standard, but both are important aspects of the standard.

A building envelope is the physical separators between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, heat, light, and noise transfer. The three basic elements of a building envelope area weather barrier, air barrier, and thermal barrier. [Wikipedia]

In simple terms, this means that the building envelope is made up of the walls, floors, roofs (or ceilings), windows and doors that separate the inside from the outside. The passivhaus building envelope is also made up of these elements, but there are some key aspects that make the passivhaus building envelope distinct.

The passivhaus building envelope requires a high-performance thermal envelope, it must be continuous and it is key to the fabric first approach.

028 What is the Passivhaus Building Envelope
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Bjarke Ingels is a “Starchitect,” an international superstar architect. He is also a great storyteller and perhaps this is why he has risen to such prominence in recent years. People love stories.

Arguably, it is the narrative that people give to buildings that elevate them to “Architecture.” The trouble I have with most “Starchitecture” is that the narrative often appears to be whimsical, egocentric and divorced from environmental context.

Bjarke Ingels is a different kind of “Starchitect.” He offers a narrative where architecture embraces environmental context. His term for this is “Vernacular 2.0.”

Vernacular architecture arises out of a direct response to the climate it inhabits and the resources available locally. And this is exactly what the Passivhaus Standard aims to ensure in a contemporary context.

So what would happen if the two were combined? Can you imagine an architecture where the “Hedonistic Sustainability” of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) delivered the radical energy efficiency and exceptional comfort of the Passivhaus Standard?*

I can.

The combination of Bjarke Ingels + Passivhaus, to my mind, truly would be a “Vernacular 2.0.”

025 Bjarke Ingels Passivhaus Vernacular
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This blog post is a review of “Passive House Design – Planning and design of energy-efficient buildings” published in September 2014. Author and architect Roberto Gonzalo (who also wrote the 2012 title “Energy-Efficient Architecture”) and passivhaus architect Rainer Vallentin collaborated on this valuable guide for architects and designers.

This is a timely book as the delivery of passivhaus architecture accelerates around the world. As the authors note, more and more architects are finding their way to passivhaus:

…simply because it is one of the most scientifically sophisticated and practical energy efficiency standards for buildings currently available.

Thorough introductory and background material is provided for those that are new to the Passivhaus Standard. This is followed by chapters dealing with a range of subjects in suitable detail for those already familiar with the standard. Well-illustrated case studies complement both the introductory and the more advanced content.

Passive House Design” is an extremely useful book full of beautiful photographs, clear diagrams and detailed drawings. It maintains the very high standard of presentation and technical detail that can be found in all Detail magazines and books.

Passivhaus architecture depends on the design and construction quality of the building envelope. This book guides you in designing the building envelope.

023 Passive House Design building envelope
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The Passivhaus Standard delivers radically energy efficient buildings with excellent occupant comfort. I have written about the comfort aspects of passivhaus before in the Gary Vaynerchuk inspired post and in one of the LovePH series.

Heating is a key element of occupant comfort. So why does the Passivhaus Standard have a limiting benchmark for heating energy of 15kWh/m2 per annum? Isn’t this contradictory?

While this may seem contradictory, there are good reasons for it. Firstly, heating makes up a significant proportion of energy consumption in buildings, so it needs to be addressed to improve energy efficiency and reduce climate change impact. Secondly, setting a very low heating energy benchmark drives a fabric first approach, which has several benefits, comfort being a key one. And thirdly, having a heating energy benchmark singled out from primary energy means it can’t be achieved by offsetting with renewables or any other energy accounting cheats.

15kWh/m2 for comfort – delivered with radical energy efficiency, fabric first design and no cheating!

022 Passivhaus Less Heating More Comfort
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