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  • Writer's pictureWGG Architects

Blending Green Building and Passive House Design

Updated: May 29

Green building and passive house designs represent the forefront of sustainable construction, offering both eco-friendly features and energy efficiency. With increasing concerns about global warming, resource depletion, and rising energy prices, these structures are becoming the standard for forward-thinking construction.

A building on riverbank
Green Buildings: A Primer

These buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact on human health and the natural environment. They efficiently use energy, water, and other resources, protect occupants' health, and reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation.

Key Features of Green Buildings:
  • Energy Efficiency: Green buildings often incorporate technologies like solar panels, efficient heating, ventilation and cooling systems, and advanced insulation to reduce energy consumption.

  • Water Efficiency: These buildings use fixtures like low-flow toilets, rainwater harvesting systems, and drought-tolerant landscaping to minimise water use.

  • Material Efficiency: Sustainable construction materials, recycled content, and waste reduction techniques are at the core of green building.

  • Indoor Environmental Quality: They focus on enhancing indoor air quality, using natural light, and choosing materials that don’t off-gas harmful chemicals.

  • Site Selection: Green buildings are typically located in areas to minimize land use and are often oriented to take advantage of natural light and heat.

A building with a big window facing the sun
Passive House Designs: A Closer Look

The Passive House (or Passivhaus) standard originates from Germany and is recognised worldwide as a

rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in buildings. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for heating or cooling.

Key Features of Passive House Designs:
  • Super-Insulation: Walls, roofs, and floors of passive houses utilise thick layers of insulation to minimise heat loss.

  • Triple-Glazed Windows: Passive houses use high-performance windows, often triple-glazed, filled with gases like argon or krypton to reduce heat transfer.

  • Thermal Bridge-Free Design: Passive house design eliminates or minimises "thermal bridges" - areas where heat can easily flow out of the building.

  • Energy Source: While passive houses significantly reduce the need for heating and cooling, any remaining energy demand is met through renewable sources.

It's possible (and beneficial) to incorporate passive house techniques into a green building framework for the best results. The transition to green buildings and passive house designs is not just a trend but a necessity for a sustainable future. These structures play a critical role in addressing environmental challenges while offering a healthier and more comfortable living environment for occupants. As more architects, builders, and homeowners embrace these principles, we can look forward to a world where structures harmonise with nature, rather than work against it.

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