Five Principles of Passive House Design and Construction Part 1
"Achieving Passive House levels of heat resistance is not just about how much insulation you have"
Passive House is considered the most rigorous voluntary energy-based standard in the design and construction industry today. Fundamental to the energy efficiency of these buildings are: 1) superinsulated envelopes, 2) airtight construction, 3) high-performance glazing, 4) thermal-bridge-free detailing, and 5) heat recovery ventilation. In this five-part series, Neil Norris, senior industry consultant for Passive House Canada outlines how the Passive House concept can inform conventional building.
By Neil Norris
Passive House makes the most of the envelope by superinsulating the building in order to minimize heat loss. For a Passive House, the aim is to use assemblies with enough insulation to double or triple the heat resistance compared to what is required in current Canadian building codes, resulting in a significant increase in the thermal performance expected from the building envelope. Insulating to Passive House levels has added advantages of greater soundproofing, improved durability, and greater building resiliency, wherein interior comfort can be maintained for extended periods even if there is a power failure.
Achieving Passive House levels of heat resistance is not just about how much insulation you have, but whether that insulation is used effectively. Insulation is most effective when it wraps the building uninterrupted by other materials, but there will always be areas where this is not possible, such as around components used for structural reasons. When a material bypasses the insulation, it is known as a thermal bridge and can significantly reduce the effectiveness of insulation, especially if that material is very conductive, like metal.
Minimizing repeating thermal bridges and aiming for continuous insulation where possible helps make the most of the insulation within the building envelope.
Neil Norris is senior industry consultant, Passive House Canada
The 2019 Passive House Canada Conference takes place on October 17 & 18 at the University of Toronto Scarborough. The conference is a two-day deep dive into leading Passive House projects, best practices, and lessons learned. Program sessions will focus on Part 3 and 9 buildings, multi-unit residential buildings, retrofits, and hands-on skills seminars. Conference takes place on October 17 & 18 at the University of Toronto Scarborough. For more information or to register for the conference go to the Conference website.