The concern for sustainability also influences architecture. Although it is not a new construction concept (it got standardized in Germany more than three decades ago), it is now that passive houses are gaining strength. But what are they?
Key concepts in a passive house
The basis of this type of construction is energy efficiency, to such an extent that the objective is to reduce air conditioning consumption by up to 90% thanks to a very particular design. A design with some essential pillars:
- Thermal insulation: it is a must. The goal is to accomplish avoiding thermal exchange with the outside, thus maintaining an optimal temperature inside. The insulation must work along with high-quality glazing.
- Absence of thermal bridges: these are points where heat loss occurs, usually joints or places where materials with different insulating characteristics connect. In passive houses, it is possible to locate and remove them thanks to thermographic devices.
- Tightness: it is another key concept. In this case, the purpose is to prevent the entry of air or suspended particles and air leakage by the perfect sealing all the joints and closures.
- Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery: it is possible to achieve it thanks to systems that allow adequate air renewal without the interior temperature being affected by it.
Besides those factors, other issues are taken into account when designing passive houses, such as the climatic zone (influences the choice of insulation), the orientation (to make the most of solar energy) and the employment of non-polluting materials.
Advantages of passive houses
The construction system of passive houses offers plenty of benefits. The most outstanding is the energy-saving as the need for air conditioning, or heating is practically nil. But there are more.
In addition to its energy efficiency, this type of construction stands out because the temperature inside not only remains stable but homogeneous. There are no colder areas than others, which increases the comfort of its occupants.
Also, the natural ventilation system they have makes the indoor air much healthier and cleaner. That's an additional benefit for everyone, but especially for people with allergies or respiratory problems.
And finally, we must not forget that this type of houses, protect not only against outdoor temperatures but also against the noise. They are quieter houses in which it gets easy to relax and rest properly.
We are living times of enormous concern for the environment and where homes have also become workspaces. For this reason, passive houses play a prominent role in the construction of new developments.
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