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Passivhaus Standard*  [the german "Passive House" building standard]

The building is designed and constructed according to very strict specifications and requirements related to the minimization of the total amount of energy consumed.  Meeting all these requirements described by the standard results in the delivery of an improved and more efficient low-energy building.  The prime aim of the Passivhaus Standard is to reduce significantly the energy required for space heating and cooling in a building, without any compromise in the comfort conditions experienced by its occupants.

There are specific and well-defined levels of performance for the elements and systems of the building, and this desired performance is achieved primarily through the use of:

     •  High levels of insulation (without thermal bridges)

     •  Well-insulated windows & doors (certified)

     •  An airtight building envelope (pressure test)

     •  Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR)

No traditional heating system is essential.  Internal heat gains are enough to maintain comfort; also the cold fresh entering mechanically the building is pre-heated using the heat of the stale air coming out.  The requirements for cooling are also minimized based on the same principles of high thermal insulation and airtightness.  For overheating to be avoided, the ground temperature can be used (this also applicable to heating) so that the hot fresh air entering mechanically the building is cooled down.  But also the traditional passive design strategies like shading (often very essential) and cross or night ventilation can be used.

Finally, the Passivhaus Standard can be applied to all kind of buildings (from a small private house to a residential building or an educational, public, commercial or industrial one) whether these are about a new construction or a refurbishment project.  In particular for refurbishment projects a less strict and expensive version of Passivhaus has been developed, the EnerPHit Standard.

It can also be applied successfully to all kind of climates, even to warm climates.  And it does not restrict as much the architectural design (cost can increase though) of a building, its orientation and interior layout as sometimes the traditional passive (or bioclimatic) design can impose.  Nevertheless, at CHQ design & build we highly encourage the seamless blending of the Passivhaus and EnerPHit building standards with the proven, traditional passive (or bioclimatic) design strategies, this being a more sustainable practice.

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*The Passivhaus and EnerPHit Standards have been developed in Germany by the Passivhaus Institut (PHI).