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Company Passive Home

Passive House Standards

September 20, 2021

With people becoming more environmentally conscience, we’ve seen an increase in interest for new builds to follow the trend of reducing their ecological footprint. A great way to do this is to build to the Passive House standard. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a Passive House, it is the idea of your home (or building) being as energy efficient as possible. Homes and buildings built to the Passive House standard are ultra-low energy buildings and are designed for minimum heating and cooling load requirements.

To qualify for the Passive House standard your build must take extra measures to ensure the following details are built to a higher standard.

  1. Insulation
  2. Windows
  3. Airtight Construction
  4. Heat Recovery Ventilation
  5. Thermal Bridge Free Design

Depending on your path to certification, the requirements may be different to qualify for Passive House certification. German standards require there to be less than .6 air changes per hour at a 50 pascal pressure difference. This is based on the volume of the house. The North American standard is .05 cubic feet per minute, per square foot of service area of the house.

A common test we see when working with Passive House projects is the blower door test. This consists of the air being sucked out of the house so there is more pressure outside of the home. This measures how much air is leaking into the building. In a typical North American home with sliding windows and conventional doors, these will be the main source of air leakage. However, Access Windows and Doors are comprised of 3 layers of compression seals, with the centre seal being continuous, leaving nowhere for air to escape. The multiple locking points on Access Windows are all the way around the window keeping them tight.

Access Doors are available with two sill options, one with a 56mm high fibreglass to prevent freezing in very cold climates and a 20mm aluminium sill for areas that are less prone to extreme winter temperatures. Both of these options are designed with compression seals to prevent air leakage and meet Passive House standards.

Besides the obvious benefit of energy savings from lower heating and cooling bills, there are a number of added benefits to a home that is built with the Passive House standard.

Better Air Quality – With your home being extra airtight and superior ventilation systems being required, these homes ensure pollutants are removed and your home can maintain clean and crisp air quality.

Better Sound Insulation – The added insulation and high-performance windows required with these builds help to reduce the noise pollution and keep your homes protected. Similar to air, sound waves travel and use the slightest gaps to penetrate your home. Having tightly sealed windows & doors will ensure to keep the noise out.

Increased Security – Access Windows and Doors are designed not only with the Passive House standard in mind, but also with multiple locking points making them much harder for people to break-in. In addition, having a strong frame material gives a potential intruder only one option – to go through the glass. With triple-pane, high-quality glass that is not easily shattered, our windows & doors become a very undesired point of entry and will very likely deter anyone from breaking in.

When you make the choice to build your home to the Passive House standard we found it is best to work with a builder who has the experience or is known for their high quality standards. They are familiar with the protocols and regulations put in place to ensure a truly energy efficient build.

As passive homes are not solely reliant on high-quality windows and doors, though that is one of the most crucial factors, it is also imperative that the rest of the home is built with high attention to detail and has no air leakage points.

We have found that most people wanting to go the Passive route have put a lot of time and energy into researching the best practices for qualification and have found builders and architects that are comfortable making the right choices for the build. It is important to have your team of architects, builders and Passive House Consultants on the same page to ensure your home is following all of the standards. Building a Passive House is something that needs to be the goal from day one, you won’t be able to decide to do it halfway through the build, without potentially starting back from square one. Materials, design, and inspections all take the Passive House standards into consideration.

At Access Window and Door Design Centre, we have always held our products up to a high standard and are proud that our products are regularly used in Passive House designs. As mentioned earlier, windows and doors are not solely responsible to meet a Passive Home standard but are one of the largest contributing factors.

On top of that, our windows are available in three coating options, one that almost completely blocks solar heat, one that lets in some solar heat and a third option that lets in a lot of solar heat. Since any home is likely to have some south-facing windows, it is important to use the appropriate glazing. Allowing heat to come into the home from the south side during the colder season gives your home free heat. To negate the opposite effect during hotter seasons, we recommend a roof overhang over the south-facing windows. This will throw a shadow over these windows and prevent them from overheating the home when it is to be cooled.

We have found that most people building to Passive House standards don’t go for the certifications but instead are only wanting to lower their impact on the environment and have a more energy efficient home. Whether you are aiming for certification or not, our team are happy to walk you through the options available to you to lower your energy costs and reduce your ecological footprint. Contact us today to see how we can help!