What is Passive House (Passivhaus)?
Passive house (Passivhaus) is a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building's ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling. The standard is not confined to residential properties; several office buildings, schools,educational facilities and commercial buildings have also been constructed to the standard. Passive design is not an attachment or supplement to architectural design, but a design process that integrates with architectural design. Although it is principally applied to new buildings, it has also been used for refurbishments.
Does a Passive House Cost more to Build?
In Australia, building energy standards are lower than in many parts of Europe, and it is relatively difficult to source some high quality components here. The extra cost will depend greatly upon design, size of project, quality of finishes and so forth, but typically a range of 10 – 20% should be prepared, assuming the builder has some experience and training in this type of construction. However, recent local social housing projects are suggesting very small additional costs. The more large-scale window and door manufacturers bring high-performance products to the Australian market, economies of scale will drive down costs. The cost is usually offset by the massive reduction in energy bills, and the elimination of heavy mechanical heating and cooling units. With increasing energy prices, the question to ask yourself is ‘Can I afford not to build a Passive House’!