The Passive House standard has a great proven methodology for building homes that require little energy and that are cozy and comfortable for their inhabitants. The Australian Passive House Association brings together Building Designers, Architects, Builders, Engineering experts, Building physics consultants, Designers and Sustainability specialists in order to create the best workshops, studies and conferences for those who are interested in an the newest trends and how to make them achievable for others.
APHA founder and past director says that energy efficiency and wellbeing are the most required topics right now. The fact that Passive House is now addressing these issues is amazing, seeing that these kinds of projects started increase and be more diverse. However, there are a lot of voices who are questioning Passive House’s involvement and approach to these matters.
Clare Parry, Director of the Australian Passive House Association says that there are a lot of misunderstandings on the market regarding zero energy homes. “A lot of people see Passive House as restrictive and quite strict. But it is broad, and it allows for freedom and architectural expression,” Passy says.
A highly insulated and well-sealed envelope with minimized thermal breaks, high performance glazing, a passive solar design, and an efficient system of air conditioning and ventilation are some of the principles APHA in trying to implement. All these systems will provide the wellbeing people are looking for while being energy efficient.
Unlike other strategies, the Passive House methodology doesn’t rely on the new innovative technology. Parry says that the want to maintain a level of simplicity. “In some green buildings there is a whole heap of technology used to solve problems that shouldn’t be there in the first place. It is about going back to basics – using the old principles of orientation, shading and good design, then applying a refined level of technology,” Parry explained.
Heat recovery ventilation systems are the main technology the Passive House uses. Parry describes them as “well-established androbust systems”. And they are proven to maintain optimum indoor air quality and they also provide excellent cost-effective heating and cooling. Furthermore, Passive House is an all-electric building so it can be net zero or even energy positive, if there is installed a polar PV system and an energy storage system.
The Passive House standard is open-source and the red tape is kept to a minimum intentionally, to give each owner the possibility to create a level of guaranteed performance. Those who seek Passive House certification need to know that a blower door test will be conducted in order to verify if the building’s envelope is up to standards and if it is air-tight.
There are 120 projects, including commercial buildings, mixed use, urban regeneration, education, social housing, multi-residential and detached dwellings, in Australia which are using Passive House. Parry says that “any space where it is important to have great air quality and focus on health and wellbeing.”
Impact Investment Group’s Younghusbands Woolstore in Kensington, Melbourne is one of the Passive House’s projects that is making a headline. It is a super-sustainable urban industrial village.
Monash University’s new administration building, the new Catholic School building in regional Victoria and the The Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship at the University of Melbourne are some of the most notable Passive House projects.
The Passive Place is a social housing project which will be completed soon. Another impressive project, which is combining CLT and Passive House principles, is Pirovich Group’s mixed-use development in Abbotsford, Melbourne.
In Sydney, an 11-apartment project, near the Redfern station, from Steele Associates is taking form. The project team’s credentials and the quality of the project was enough to get NAB to support the project without the requirement of pre-sales.