2018 has become a critical year for the global community as researchers have warned leaders and policy makers that the world has only 12 years to curb global climate change. This requires urgent action not only on an international scale, but also making drastic changes in how we live our lives and produce goods in Canada. This is why many policy makers, engineers, and city developers see the need to implement sustainable living and development as buildings create about 56% of greenhouse gas emissions – more than that of transportation and waste combined. One way engineers and design teams are tackling the tremendous issue of greenhouse gases, is through Passive House Designs.
Passive House Design refers to conscious design strategies that help reduce a building’s energy consumption, and often implements reusable energy. Passive Houses achieve their goal of hyper efficiency through the design and implementation of highly insulated building envelopes. The main standards of a Passive House Design are as follows:
- Proper Insulation.
Proper insulation reduces energy and heat leaving the home through areas such as window panes. With Passive House Designs developers and designers will want the structures to contain as much heat as possible, so as to reduce using heating systems that push hot air inside and inevitably consuming more energy.
- No Air Leakages.
Similar to the definition above, the intent here is to contain the heat and air that is better used within the home rather than letting it escape.
- No Thermal Bridges.
In this case, architects and engineers must be cognizant of heat that can easily travel through walls and other means. A good use of design can prevent this from happening.
- Proper Windows – Triple Pane Glass.
Windows are common areas to lose heat and by implementing triple pane glass windows this will not only allow for insulation for hot days, but for cold days as well.
- Proper Positioning.
This standard refers to the positioning of windows and ventilation systems. The strategy utilizes the natural heat from the sun and allows for heat to enter a home, and when it is warm outside this method also helps contain cool air inside.
- HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation).
This component allows for fresh air to circulate without allowing heat to escape in the process. Some buildings have even incorporated sophisticated ventilation systems that circulate air in and outside of homes; by extracting and redistributing warm air to different parts of the structure. This method is quite revolutionary as we can create comfortable heating without emitting CO2.
Photo provided by: Passive House Institute
Passive House Designs also tend to incorporate other components that help reduce emissions while continuing to produce energy efficient heating and cooling for its occupants, such as solar energy and geothermal energy. This is all done in the effort to prevent climate change, but these design strategies are also great for high density areas with high cost of living. Reducing energy consumption is great for keeping energy and appliance bills low. For those residing in areas such as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver where temperatures change drastically throughout the year, Passive House structures may be coming to you much sooner than you may think! Buildings and developments across Canada are beginning to implement these methods and designs, as well as imbedding them into provincial and municipal standards.
It is possible to reduce energy consumption for a large number of residents, as well as reduce one’s energy bill, all while remaining environmentally conscious. With how quickly technology is advancing, and environmental standards making waves across the country, it’s simply a question of when will your city be implementing Passive House Designs?
For an in-depth look at passive house designs, see this wonderful resource, What is a Passive House? Understanding the Principles Behind This Sustainable Housing Movement.