Passive Houses


When building a new home, building energy efficient is key.

Those with existing homes can improve their energy efficiency significantly by adding in more insulation, switching old windows for modernised double or triple-glazed windows, or even just switching appliances for the more eco-friendly options.

Everyone is jumping on the band-wagon for energy efficiency, not only because it is healthier and more comfortable to live in, but it also makes that time of the month when the power company comes calling a lot less traumatising.

Being energy efficient is one thing, but if you want the best of the best in energy efficiency then you need to look into what is known as a ‘passive house’.

Passive house is not a brand name, it’s a construction concept which was developed in Germany around 1990 and the first certified passive house in New Zealand was built in 2012.

What is a passive house?
A passive house is ultimately a home that requires no heating. It works by minimising heat loss and maximising passive heat gains. This is achieved by using airtight materials together with a ventilation system or more specifically a heat recovery ventilation system, insulation and triple-glazed windows.

The result of living in a passive house is virtually no heating or cooling bills.

Because of its air tight structure, the temperature in your home remains consistent year-round, no matter what part of the country you live in. Your home will be warm and dry with no cold spots or nasty drafts.

Combined with energy efficient appliances your electricity bill can plummet up to 90 percent.

Does New Zealand have the capabilities to build passive houses?

There are already 13 certified passive houses in New Zealand to date, one of which is right here in Christchurch. We certainly have the capabilities and the products here to be able to increase the number of homes built by this concept, says Sustainable Engineering director Jason Quinn. Jason Quinn is New Zealand’s first and only passive house certifier.

In fact, he says, most of the materials required are now manufactured in New Zealand. If they are not manufactured here they are still readily available.

Now more than ever it is important to reduce our carbon footprint; by reducing the need for oil and gas we will be well on our way to making a difference.

By using passive house technologies you can even improve your existing home – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a whole new rebuild to make an impact on your energy consumption.

So what have you got to lose?

For more information on building your own passive house go to:

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