Passive home designs work with the environment rather than against it. By taking advantage of location, orientation, and local climate, a passive home is designed to maintain comfortable temperatures while reducing energy consumption.
Passive building and design principles revolve around the concept of working less to gain more all year long. These smart but simple principles allow a home to leverage natural heating and cooling resources to minimize auxiliary heating and cooling. The resulting benefits are lower bills and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
This type of sustainable design can be as simple as adding solar panels or skylights or as thorough and integrated as building from scratch in a way which optimizes every natural element of the home’s location. While a home can be upgraded to enhance year-round thermal comfort and create more sustainability, it’s ideal to incorporate these principles during the initial design and build phase.
Carefully positioned and oriented on a plot of land, a passive home lends itself to a naturally efficient design. The envelope – walls, windows, floors and roof – are then designed to take advantage of climate, orientation, shading and sunlight.
Solar-path-finder devices, for example, are tools for calculating how the sun hits the site at different times of the day to determine where windows and trees should be placed to capitalize on sun or shade.
High performance triple-glaze windows and exterior and interior motorized shades on south-facing walls to control thermal comfort even more during every season of the year. The home can be constructed using materials that have a high thermal mass such as brick, concrete, and tiles, so it can store more heat energy longer. Sealing and insulation can then be strategically installed to prevent heat gain or loss.
Similar to LEED-certification, homes can be certified Passive. This means that a home has successfully passed a certification process to confirm that it meets all the standards for passive design. One of the nation’s largest certifiers, the Passive House Institute U.S. Environmental, can save you money on utility bills and may also grant you with certain tax breaks.
We encourage anyone looking to upgrade their home or build a new home to consider environmentally-friendly building and design options that suit your home and lifestyle. To learn how our team here at TMS Architects practices sustainable design, read about our commitment to eco-friendly architecture or contact us to speak to a team member.