Passive design standards take hold

Monday, 01 February, 2016

Passive design standards take hold

As designing to German Passive House performance standards becomes more widespread, integrated solar thermal systems divert excess heat to swimming pools, providing the perfect heating solution.

Number 9 Bromby Street in South Yarra is a standout building in every sense of the word. A winner at this year's CSR-HIA Victorian Housing and Kitchen Awards, this energy-efficient, carbon-neutral home was was constructed by Ducon.

The property is designed to German Passive House standards, whereby the design process is integrated with the architecture of the building, resulting in ultralow energy consumption. The passive house standard is a performance standard, not a design standard. A home or building of any architectural style can be a certified passive house. It’s not a brand name, but a rather construction concept that can be applied by anyone and that has stood the test of practice.

9 Bromby Street is a beautiful and spectacular contemporary home that exemplifies the successful amalgamation of high-end design, high-quality construction and passive design philosophies.The specific requirement for 9 Bromby Street was to reduce its heat gain and loss in order to reduce operating costs. This was achieved through a raft of  techniques including energy recovery ventilation systems and  exposed concrete block walls which engage thermally with the interior space to control radiant temperatures.

The need for the mechanical heating and cooling of passive design buildings is minimised through the use of heating and cooling methods such as natural ventilation, solar heat gain, solar shading and efficient insulation. 9 Bromby Street uses variable refrigerant volume air-conditioning systems with each key space having a separate unit. Windows can be opened if needed and an automatic shut-off of the cooling systems ensures that they do not operate while a window is open.

The integrated roof-mounted solar thermal system provides domestic hot water, underfloor heating and spa heating, with excess heat diverted into the swimming pool. The system is supported by an efficient gas booster.

The airtight ‘passive’ construction reduces air leakage and infiltration, reducing heat gain during summer and heat loss during winter. Independent certified testing undertaken by Air Leakage Measurement Australia (ALMA) confirmed that the air leakage design criterion was met, ensuring lower operational costs over the life of the building.

The huge energy saving in passive houses is achieved by using time-tested energy-efficient building components and a quality ventilation system. Comfort is not sacrificed for energy reduction levels; rather, the level of comfort is considerably increased. Most passive buildings to date have been built in Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia, although interest is rapidly gathering pace in other countries.

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