The Five Passive House Design Principles

The Sociable Weaver
2 min readAug 28, 2023

A passive house is an energy efficient, environmentally friendly and comfortable home.

A Certified Passive House features these five design and build principles, as defined by the Australian Passive House Association.

  1. Airtightness: Achieving an exceptionally low air leakage rate (less than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascal) is crucial for Passive House certification. Creating a well-insulated building envelope, including walls, roof, windows, and floor slab, ensures energy efficiency, comfort, and affordability. All of this prevents warm or cold air escaping when doors and windows are closed.
  2. Thermal Insulation: Proper thermal insulation involves using thick and continuous insulation to create a thermal barrier between the indoor environment and the outdoors. This enhances thermal comfort and reduces condensation.
  3. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR): MVHR improves indoor air quality without the need to open doors or windows, or compromising energy efficiency. MVHR systems recover otherwise wasted warm and cool air and regulate humidity.
  4. High-Performance Windows: Windows are a crucial element in Passive House design, allowing the sun to warm up the interior during winter while minimising excessive heat gain in summer. Airtight and double or triple glazed windows are often used to achieve this balance.
  5. Thermal Bridge Free Construction: Maintaining continuous insulation is key to avoiding thermal bridges. Making smart design choices early on and reducing penetrations through proper insulation will minimise heat loss and decrease condensation risks.

In addition to these principles, the design of an accredited Passive House takes into account other factors, such as thermal mass. Thermal mass refers to the ability of certain materials like concrete, bricks, and tiles to absorb and store heat energy, releasing it back into the space when temperatures drop, further improving its energy efficiency and overall performance.

If you would like to understand more about Passive House or want a complete Passive House ‘Design and Build’ hit us up.

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The Sociable Weaver

Design and building company that creates healthy, sustainable, and inspiring homes.