What is a Passive House and what are the benefits of building one?

Passive House is a building standard and methodology creating new and altered homes, designed with the local climate in mind. These homes are comfortable to live in and efficient to run, with as little impact on the environment as possible.

When we talk about a Passive House, we’re referring to a Certified Passive House. This certification provides a guarantee to you the homeowner that your house will meet the highest standards of performance and quality.

A Passive House focuses on five key principles:

  1. Excellent insulation
  2. Mechanical ventilation and heat recovery
  3. Airtight building envelope
  4. High performing windows and doors
  5. No thermal bridges

Passive Home comfort and health

The comfortability of a Passive House is one of its biggest drawcards. People who have experienced life in this type of home are struck by how comfortable it is. The design is optimised to be free from cold spots and excessive heat, and free from draughts. The use of appropriate windows and insulation, along with the implementation of mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, ensures that the home has a constant supply of fresh, clean air. 

By extension, a Passive House’s comfort means it is also healthy and quiet. And with more people spending time at home, especially for work, these homes provide an optimal environment for cognitive performance. Imagine doing your work without having to worry about changes in temperature, stuffiness or odours. Elements that can distract you and detract from clear thinking.  Plus, a Passive House is super quiet. So, no matter where your home is situated, you won’t be distracted by outside noise. This feature is achieved by the use of high-performance insulation and windows.

Save on your energy bills as well

Not only will you be able to live comfortably in a quiet and healthy Passive House environment that’s great for the whole family – you’ll also save on your energy bills. 

According to the Australian Passive House Association, you can save up to 90% on your home’s heating and cooling consumption compared with typical existing buildings and over 75% compared with average new best-practice constructions. This is why your best option lies with an experienced Passive House builder. Most builders will construct homes to the minimum standards of efficiency required. However, Australia’s energy efficiency standards are drastically lower in comparison to the rest of the world.

At Coy’s Constructions, we are certified in Passive House construction. We can help you design and build a home at world-leading standards for energy efficiency. You don’t have to educate us about the benefits of such a home because we’re already well versed in the benefits. The process begins at the modelling stage and takes into account the orientation of your land, climate, your projected behaviour as occupants and many other factors. So, it’s really important to think about what you want from your home at the start in order to maximise the design.

By building a Passive House, you’ll be making a long-term investment in your future – and saving an extraordinary amount of money over the lifetime of the home.

Better for the environment

Imagine not only living in a greener, more energy-efficient home, but also playing a part in saving the planet. A Passive House by its very nature also benefits the environment. It creates less indoor pollution and relies less on energy powered by fossil fuels, and more on renewable sources of energy like solar. 

This type of home also tends to be more durable meaning there are less repairs required over the life of the home. This can also be a significant win for the environment with less products needing to be produced and used.

Overall, this means that even one Passive House can make a difference to the planet. But many can bring about extraordinary change. Certainly a feel-good benefit of choosing this type of home, knowing you will be leaving future generations with a better Earth to live on.

The cost of building a Passive House

It’s clear that a Passive House has extraordinary benefits that make for ideal living conditions in modern society. But at what initial monetary cost? Can anyone afford to build a Passive House? The answer is yes.  The cost isn’t as much as you may think.  A Passive House Designer will take into consideration the orientation of your home on the land, the location of windows and other design elements. These elements don’t cost more to build – they are just smarter choices that will significantly improve the overall performance of your home.

Of course, as with any building project, cost is also influenced by the size of your project, and the quality of the finishes you choose. These options can be talked through with your designer so you get the most out of your budget.

Sometimes higher costs in Australia are due to quality components only being available from overseas, where energy efficiency standards are much higher. The good news is that this market is expanding in Australia, and with more companies now introducing these products to the local market, costs will come down.

At Coy’s Constructions, we understand everyone has a budget. It’s our job to bring you solutions so you get as much of what you want, as you can afford.

Of course, when you look at your house as a forever home, any initial extra cost at building stage will be offset by the amazing savings you make. Put simply, your energy bills will be much lower and over time, you will make that money back and then some.

The real question is – Can you afford not to build a Passive House?

A Passive House design can be traditional or modern

A Passive House can be traditional or modern, and the design can suit any aesthetic you like. The simplicity of the design is important but the key to a Passive House is having a certified builder and designer working together to ensure that your house meets as many of the Passive House principles as possible.

A certified builder will intricately understand the components of a highly efficient and comfortable home. They will be able to work with you to come up with a design that suits your family’s needs. Comfortability, as well as efficiency, are important outcomes for a Passive House.

We will work with you to get the best Passive House outcome for you.

The Benefits of a Passive House

In today’s society, where more people are working from home or enjoying downtime at home, a comfortable and healthy Passive House is a smart choice.

  1. Healthy – A Passive House features great indoor air quality. You will have constant, fresh, filtered, clean air all year round. This is achieved through a certified ventilation system that delivers air silently to occupied space, and withdraws stale air.
  2. Comfortable – A Passive House has unparalleled thermal balance. This is achieved through insulation and mitigation of thermal bridges. It means you can enjoy consistent temperatures no matter what the weather is outside.
  3. Resilient – Temperatures inside a Passive House are maintained for long periods even when there’s a blackout, so a Passive House is more resilient than a traditional one.
  4. Affordable to Run – Low heating and cooling costs mean Passive Houses are much more affordable to run. Say goodbye to escalating energy bills!
  5. Easy to Operate – Passive Houses are about careful design, simple and durable systems, and quality construction. You won’t need complicated and expensive control systems because the building itself does the work for you.
  6. Quiet – Superior insulation and high-performance windows provide acoustic control, cutting out outside noise and providing you a peaceful abode.
  7. Access to Finance – Passive House Certified buildings qualify for reduced interest rates on borrowing. Ask your bank whether they offer this.

If you’d like more information about Passive Houses, or would like to start designing one, Coy’s Constructions is ready to help.  We’re Certified Passive House builders and are proud to be helping Australians live better lives and help the environment.

 

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Tom Coy

Tom Coy is the founder and director of Coy’s Constructions, Custom New Home and Renovation Specialists.
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