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5 Passive Building Principles

5 passive building design principles

Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable level on the path to zero. To that end, a passive building is designed and built in accordance with the following five building science principles:

1. Continuous Insulation

The building employs continuous thermal insulation throughout the entire envelope without any thermal bridging.

2. Airtight Construction

The building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.

3. Optimized Window Performance & Solar Gains

High-performance windows (typically triple-paned) are carefully selected and positioned to take advantage of solar gain to provide supplemental heat in the heating season and to prevent overheating in the cooling season. The building also employs high-performance doors that are airtight and superinsulated.

4. Balanced Heat & Moisture Recovery Ventilation

The whole-building ventilation system uses balanced heat-and-moisture recovery to provide constant fresh air while mitigating the energy required to condition incoming outdoor air.

5. Minimized Mechanical Systems

The building employs minimized standalone mechanical systems, point source systems, ducted systems, and/or systems integrated with the whole-building ventilation system.

Additional Passive Building Benefits

Passive building principles can be applied to all building typologies from single-family homes and apartment buildings, to offices and skyscrapers. Passive design strategy carefully models and balances a comprehensive set of factors, including heat generated by the sun, appliances, and even occupants, to keep the building at comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures throughout the heating and cooling seasons. As a result, passive buildings offer the following long-term benefits in addition to reduced energy usage and operational costs:

1. Unmatched Comfort

Superinsulation and airtight construction provides unmatched comfort even in extreme outdoor conditions.

2. Superb Air Quality

Continuous mechanical ventilation of fresh filtered air assures superb air quality.

3. Resiliency

A comprehensive systems approach to modeling, design, and construction produces buildings that are very resilient in the face of extreme weather events and power outages.

4. Net Zero/Net Positive Within Reach

Passive buildings consume so little energy that with the addition of a small renewable energy system they can provide all the energy the building needs, thereby offering the best path to achieving Net Zero and Net Positive.