In 2003, the United States began to adopt an energy efficient building structure that had become increasingly popular in Europe since the 1990’s called passive housing. Passive housing reduces a building’s ecological footprint because they require little energy for heating and cooling. The passive design can be used not only for housing, but office buildings, schools and more.
What makes this design different from a conventional building are the several ways it generates warmth. The main tactic used is the passive heating technology. This ventilation system floods the house with air from outside and pushes out the stale, old air through vents in each room. In this process, the cool air from outside is heated by the warm air that passes on its way out. Passive housing structures use this ventilation to cool and warm the space and prevent that “stuffy feeling” and evenly distribute temperatures throughout the whole house.
A passive house also creates internal heat through its angle towards the sun. The structure should be in a position for optimum solar orientation and maximum light exposure. These designs also use passive heat sources such as body heat and the heat radiating off of technological devices.
A conventional structure has thermal bridges around windows, doors, cracks that allow heat and air to escape. Whereas in a passive houses this does not happen as the design uses airtight construction and heavy insulation. The Passive House Institute also recommends that homeowners use windows that are fitted to be opened, however, it is not necessary for a building that may not need ventilation.
Passive housing uses modern technology to heat and cool homes in the most energy efficient way, and decreases air pollution tremendously while increasing air quality internally. These structures require around 90% less heating energy than conventional buildings and create long term financial savings after the initial investment.
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