Guide passive houses or passivhaus by Lobo Studio

passive houses



It will not surprise you if in this post we talk about sustainability and energy efficiency. On several occasions we have commented on this topic and it is one of the trends in architecture and construction from now on. And if this is the first time you hear about it, hurry up because to care with respect and help improve the environment is a very important factor that concerns us all.

At Lobo Studio this is something we fully believe in and for that reason, we like to get involved in architectural projects where these factors are taken into account.

If there is an innovative and efficient construction system with respect to energy savings, it is the passivhaus or passive house.

You may be familiar with this concept, as many construction companies and architects already implement it in their work or even specialize in it. But if, on the other hand, it is something you are unfamiliar with, don't worry.

Here we are your team of wolfers for you to discover everything: what a passive house is, why you should opt for it, how it works and many other curiosities and reasons that will make passive houses or passivhaus a priority or a new goal. 


What are passive houses or passivhaus?

A passive house or passivhaus is a sustainable and efficient building that aims to reduce energy consumption through established design strategies.

Thus, energy efficiency is the basis of its construction system, reducing its consumption by 90% compared to a conventional house. To achieve this, the climatic and geographical conditions of the site must be taken into account, i.e., consider an optimal orientation, capture and protect the building or house from solar radiation.

Although it is a term that is the order of the day, passivhaus or passive houses began to be designed in the 1970s, creating healthy and more comfortable spaces for humans without the need to use external energy sources to acclimatize the house.

If you choose to design passive spaces, it is essential that you have knowledge of bioclimatic architecture techniques. 

What are the benefits of a passive house / passivhaus?

The first thing is that a passive house manages to bring welfare to the environment and respect it as it deserves. There are a lot of benefits that passive houses bring, not only to the building, but also to the health of the inhabitant.

Mainly because proper ventilation and thus making the space clean and free of particles makes the indoor air natural, quality and much healthier than the usual houses. And you know that they say that good health improves mood. So healthy house, happy inhabitants.

In conventional housing, dampness, mold and fungus can sometimes appear due to the materials and insulation used, but in the case of thepassivhaus it is a factor that can be prevented.

Similarly, the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable materials and the construction process employed allows heat loss to be drastically reduced.

That is, passive houses are heated with sunlight and hardly require heating. This fact, in addition to maintaining the space with a homogeneous and pleasant temperature, reduces energy consumption by up to 80%, which is also reflected in the energy bill, since in our country we can save more than half the money thanks to passive houses.

The same thing that happens with the air conditioning of the building, happens with the acoustic insulation. The airtightness of passive houses is much higher than a conventional house. So we can keep the house isolated from outside noise and help the comfort and rest of its users.

As a consequence of their air conditioning systems and the purity of their installations, passive houses are dust free, allow healthier plants thanks to clean air, it is not necessary to install air conditioning because its ventilation system does not pass heat and, in addition, the fact of using large glazed windows makes you enjoy more natural light and views.

How does a passive house save energy?

Maybe you're just starting to discover passive houses and you're getting the bug to learn more. And you may be wondering how a passivhaus works.

Well, passive buildings or houses manage to significantly reduce the air conditioning needs, both cold and heat, of the house and only use a minimum supplementary part of energy that is obtained from renewable energies. 

A standardized system is implemented that consists of introducing fresh air from the outside into the space for optimal ventilation and cooling. In the same way, it collects the air from the inside to expel it to the outside for cleaning. 

Regarding heating, we have already mentioned that passivhaus buildings use sunlight to maintain an adequate temperature. In winter, the sun is lower and therefore allows more direct light and heat to be received. On the other hand, the higher the sun is, as in summer, the more shading and less overheating occurs inside. 

This standard system does not consist of using specific materials, finishes or architectural designs, but rather optimizing resources through techniques that benefit the sustainability and efficiency of the home, both in the construction process and throughout its life.

What are the requirements for a building or a house to be passivaus?

You already know that passive houses must reduce energy consumption, but not everything is valid. For a building or house to be considered passivhaus or passive it is necessary to meet 5 basic requirements or principles: 

  • Airtightness: in a passive building envelope should be as sealed as possible. It is achieved in the construction process, when the joints are made, they are subjected to a pressure test where it is verified that there are no infiltrations or air currents. 
  • Absence of thermal bridges: thermal bridges originate between the joints of materials, shafts or corners when there is a break in continuity causing heat loss. In passive houses, materials with higher thermal resistance are used, the insulating layers are not interrupted and the joints are protected so as not to cause breaks and thus eliminate thermal bridges.
  • Quality windows and doors: you should already know that in conventional houses, windows and doors are a source of air inlet and outlet, even if they are closed. In the case of the passivhaus, the materials, design and placement of doors and windows must be taken into account. The carpentry should be of low thermal transmission and double glazing filled with inert gas, which reflects the heat to the interior and maintains the right temperature according to the season of the year. 
  • Thermal insulation: structural elements, such as walls and ceilings, must be of the highest quality. This means reducing energy consumption by up to 30% and preserving heat in winter and reducing it in summer. For this purpose, the thickness of the thermal insulation must be between 15 to 20 centimeters, depending on the construction area. 
  • Mechanical ventilation system: Passive houses, as mentioned above, must distribute the air in a way that distributes fresh air inside. A natural crossover system is used to recover the heat generated by people and appliances and thus, dispense with cooling systems and improve health. 

What is the price of passive houses? 

Finally, we do not want to leave one of the factors that most concerns the client or owner when purchasing a home. Is a passive house more expensive than a conventional one? The answer is yes and no. Let us explain.

When calculating the cost of a house we must take into account both the construction price, but also the maintenance costs that it generates in the long term. And in this case it is a very important factor to highlight. 

The construction cost is more expensive than a regular house. Approximately, a passive house can have a higher cost between 5% and 10%, where the increase in insulation, airtightness, ventilation system and carpentry performance is added.

This means that a passive house costs between 1000€ and 1200€ per square meter plus the additional cost of approval that the construction company must certify. 

But, on the other hand, we must also take into account what this initial expense means in the future. And this is reduced to energy savings and, therefore, economic savings. That is, the bills and the price of maintenance of thepassivhaus is much lower.

During one year we can see the energy cost reduced to 35%, which means a return on the construction cost overrun of between 5 and 9 years.

As we have seen, passive buildings and houses require quality design, attention to detail and good practice of architectural and construction techniques to save energy consumption and, as a consequence, improve the world.

There is no doubt that passivhaus is in fashion, but this fashion is here to stay. Our recommendation is to stay ahead of the times, why continue designing and building ordinary homes if we can be more efficient and sustainable?

This can also help us in the future, saving us time and money, because if, today, there are established rules regarding passive houses, everything indicates that over time the rules will be regulated so that all architectural works meet these requirements.

From Lobo Studio we opt for a sustainable and efficient architecture. And you, do you dare to enrich the environment?

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