Over the years, as people become increasingly aware of their impact on the environment, there has been an increased focus on the value of environmentally responsible building and interior design. More people are seeking to add sustainable principles to their houses, whether they be homeowners or not.
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In Australia, around one-fifth of the country’s greenhouse gases emissions are generated from Australian households. According to the Environmental Protection Authority, one household is responsible for producing over 18 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.
Switching to a passive house design, however, can significantly cut down energy use in a home by up to 75 to 90 percent. If only houses all over the world are designed that way, imagine the huge difference it will make to the environment.
What is a passive house design, though?
A passive home design is a voluntary standard for constructing a house that takes full advantage of environmental elements while delivering a healthier indoor environment with the right temperature, humidity, and comfort while using minimal energy.
Also known as the “fabric first” approach, it essentially focuses on getting the right skin of the building so that everything will fall into place. This home design reduces the need for additional heating or cooling which comprises about 40 percent of energy usage in the average Australian home.
The value of switching to passive home design cannot be overemphasized. Not to mention, houses with passive home designs tend to last longer as they are more resilient and adapt to natural environmental conditions.
Though achieving good passive home design is more economical when adopting it during the initial planning and building, it does not mean that substantial renovations to an existing home are impossible.
Also, to achieve the optimal benefits, the passive home needs ‘active’ users or people who have a basic understanding of how the home elements work. That means knowing when to open or close windows, adjust shading, and how the home functions as the season changes.
Cope With Climate Change With Designing
1. Design for Climate
One of the features of a good passive design is that it ensures that the occupants remain warmly comfortable needing only minimal additional heating and cooling.
Every region in Australia has a corresponding climate zone. By knowing your location’s climate zone and gaining more understanding of the thermal comforts, you are more equipped in making an informed design choice for your home.
Your home’s orientation plays a huge role in ensuring that your home takes full advantage of climatic features like the sun and cooling breezes. For instance, it is ideal for most houses to face north or as close to north as possible so that the structure can have maximum exposure to the sun.
With good orientation, your home eliminates the constant need for additional heating and cooling. Furthermore, it helps improve solar access to your panels. All in all, it makes your home more comfortable to live in while less expensive to run.
One of the best ways to reduce the heat during the summer months, while improving comfort and energy is by putting some shading to your house and outdoor spaces. This includes shading your shutters, window awnings, eaves, and pergolas.
By shading glass, you can block up to 90 percent of heat. But keep in mind though to maintain a balance so as not to block winter sun.
4. Sealing Your Home
Around 15 to 25 percent of winter heat loss in homes is due to air leakage. This significant heat loss can cause your energy bills to increase. To avoid this while also increasing the comfort in your home and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, you can simply seal your home against air leaks.
Accordingly, with the exception of those houses in the tropics, the more extreme your climate condition could be, the more beneficial sealing is for your home.
Your home’s insulation serves as a blockade to heat flow. It is necessary to keep your home warm during the winter months and cool during the summers. It also helps with soundproofing and waterproofing.
With a well-insulated and well-passively designed home, you are ensured a year-round of comfort, lowering energy bills, and you help minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
There are plenty of eco-friendly materials for home insulation. You may opt for fiberglass, polyurethane, or organic options such as straw, cork, or external timber cladding materials.
Sustainability is the key to help preserve mother nature. One way we can embrace sustainability is to look into our living conditions. And with this, passive home designs are the answer.