Orla Studios Guide to green Passive House Design

The passivhaus or passive house standard was developed in the early 1990’s in Germany. It dramatically reduces the need for heating and cooling and improves air quality.
Passive Houses allow for space heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and over 75% compared to average new build. Passivehouse building techniques result in ultra-low energy buildings

Image result for modern passive house

Bamboo House by Karawitz Architects
  • It basically wraps a house in a big insulation blanket with no gaps to prevent heat loss and gain

Image result for modern passive house

  • houses are orientated to allow solar passive heat gains (in the northern hemisphere, windows on the south with very little openings on the north side). In warm climates, southern facing glazing is shaded by large overhangs or shade systems so intense summer rays do not overheat. At the Karawitz house this system is bamboo, a highly sustainable building material

Minimumhouse at Mellensee located in South Berlin is the first of a series of houses designed by Ahlbrecht Felix Scheidt Kasprusch

passive cooling

Passive house cooling in hot climates:

orla studios

insulation and use of cool colors on the exterior, airtightness to limit heat and humidity gainsnight cooling and fixed or movable shading and large overhangsgeothermal cooling, the earth is cooler just 10 to 13 feet below grade and can be used to cool structure abovethermal mass, creating a thick building envelope to absorb heat from exterior. Keeps home cool during summer and keeps heat in during winterhigh levels of insulation with low levels of thermal bridging, (thermal bridging is where gaps in the insulated building envelope cause temps to jump from inside to outside or vice versa)

  • These highly insulated wall, floor and foundations are customized based on the climate the house is located in, warmer climates use less material

  • building envelope has a high level of airtightness (they use a blow test). All joints are taped with special tape to create airtight seal


  • excellent level of indoor air quality
  • mechanical ventilation system for the whole house which recovers heat for reuse (air exiting house warms air entering through heat recovery)

images courtesy architecture-view.com and prsmanchester.co.uk
  • the standard encourages a high level of energy efficiency for appliances, lighting and hot water generation
  • photovoltaic systems are installed for energy generation
  • to be certified the house needs to meet the following energy criteria

* PE ≤ 120 kWh/m².yr + ((SHD – 15 kWh/ m².yr) x1.2)

  • EnerPHit is the passive house standard for remodels
  • triple glazing or double glazing with low e and no thermal bridging can be used for windows and doors

For certification:

the energy balance of the proposed building must be verified using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) using the appropriate regional climatic dataset. Either the monthly or the annual method may be applied.

PHPP is available from


www.phius.org US

www.passiv.de Germanypass

mg house

This article was written for the Orla Studio’s sister Site: Architecturehacker.com

#passivehouse #passivhaus #greenbuilding #greenarchitecture #marincounty #architecture

Orla Huq

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