Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Passive architecture: how to have homes that have neither heat nor cold and consume almost no energy

Heat waves, skyrocketing fuel… Heating or cooling a home is becoming more expensive and problematic, no matter where in the world you are.

In a few decades, parts of the Earth that used to have a temperate climate will experience Extremely extreme weather. More heat, more air conditioning, resulting in more energy consumption, which will contribute to global warming and translate into more heat. a vicious circle in which we are already immersed and Who condemns us to disaster.

However, there are solutions for building buildings that have a low environmental impact, either because they use recyclable natural materials such as wood or clay, or because Follow a series of guidelines that significantly reduce energy consumption.

The latter is a concept known as “passive homes”, which Use your own architecture of the building to keep them warm in the cold months and cool in the hot, and who can reach reduce energy consumption up to 90%,

“The idea is that saving energy should not only be a user thing, but it’s something technical that can and should be solved with architectural components and through technical knowledge”, he explains BBC Berthold Kaufmansenior scientist passive house institute, German organization that set a manufacturing standard that has spread throughout the world today.

Passive houses in the Tigre Delta, Argentina, raised on pillars to allow repeated flooding of the river
Passive houses in the Tigre Delta, Argentina, raised on pillars to allow repeated flooding of the riverPassive House Institute

In other words, reducing energy consumption should depend not only on lowering the thermostat, Whether we get used to being warm in winter or warm in summer: architecture should and can help. following a series of basic principles, such as good insulation and study of solar orientation and the climatic conditions of the environment, “passive homes” can reduce a home’s energy footprint to a minimum level.

Spanish architect Nacho Cordero, who was trained in the concept of “Passivhaus”uses an analogy to explain it: “Imagine you’re going to build a boat, and the way to design it is to make a bilge pump so that it doesn’t sink. Passive architecture is the opposite. Try this that the ship may not need or have a bilge pump only for an emergency”. Basically, he explains, the idea is simple, “trying to make things right,

Although we usually associate eclectic homes with luxurious and luxurious constructions, or those located in dreamy places, any home in fact, Even a soft suburban apartment blockCan become a passive house.

Of course, the building that meets their standards will be very different in Iceland or Spain or Cuba, The concept and physical properties on which it is based are maintained, but in a cold country, for example, it will try to achieve the greatest possible solar gain, while in summer where the sun burns, want to create shaded area,

However, they all have the same purpose: to keep energy consumption to a minimum. “For new housing, the aim of passive homes is that they consume a maximum of 15 kW per m2 per year, and 25 for those that were renovated with these standards,” says Kaufman. Taking into account that a traditional household may consume between 150 and 300 kW per m2 per year, savings are important,

Passive architecture tries to avoid heat loss from buildings to limit energy consumption as much as possible (Photo: BBC)
Passive architecture tries to avoid heat loss from buildings to limit energy consumption as much as possible (Photo: BBC)

Basically, passive architecture, understood as one that adapts to the climatic conditions of its surroundings, exists since ancient times, Throughout history various peoples tried to use the resources available in their environment and adapt to the geography Meteorology provided them with an acceptable level of comfort for building the house.

Mali’s mud houses, cold under the Sahara’s bad sun, or igloos, are sustainable and passive habitats of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions.

with Invention of modern air conditioning and heating systems in the 20th centuryHowever, the architecture became largely detached from the environment that surrounded it. For example, a building can be kept cool with an air conditioner even though it is made of glass in a sunny area. Heating boilers, whether gas or oil, keep homes warm even with windows that don’t close properly.

oil crisis of 1970 However, put the concept of energy efficiency on the table, something that climate emergency It became a priority.

Since then, the concept of “passive housing” has become popular in architecture schools with the aim of reducing the energy impact of buildings. Although various schemes originate in the United States, Italy or Switzerland, the one that ends up was founded in the late 1980s by the German Wolfgang Feist and the Swedish Bo Adamson. their The first “Passivhaus” was built in 1991, Today there are thousands of buildings around the world with this certification.

Thermal insulation is essential in passive architecture
Thermal insulation is essential in passive architectureduquezmora

Five basic principles govern the Passive House Standard.

thermal isolation, Passive homes have excellent thermal insulation, which can be triple that of traditional buildings. “In cold climates you need to use 20 or 30 cm layers of insulation, although in temperate climates it doesn’t need to be that thick,” explains Kaufman. This protective layer enclosing the house will prevent both the penetration of cold or heat and its loss.

air tightness. If quality insulation is installed but not sealed well, heat will escape through the gaps and uncomfortable drafts will be created, losing energy efficiency. “Passivhaus” takes into account the tightness of buildings and for this, tests are carried out in which air is blown into houses to check where it comes out and is able to fix it.

Quality homes and doors. A very important part of the energy we use to heat the house goes out through the windows. Passive homes not only take maximum care of the orientation of home openings to make the most of solar gain, but also use triple-glazed windows to avoid heat loss as much as possible.

Lack of thermal bridges. They are the points where the insulating surface is broken (for example, by a wedge or aluminum window frame) and allows heat to escape into a building.

Ventilation system with heat recovery. When opening windows to ventilate, heat is lost in winter and cools in summer. Passive homes have a mechanical ventilation system installed that filters the air and recovers the home’s own heat to heat the air that enters. It is not necessary to open windows with this system.

At its 88 meters high, the Bolueta, in Bilbao, Spain, has been the world's tallest Passivhaus building until a new building to be built in China removed the title.
At its 88 meters high, the Bolueta, in Bilbao, Spain, has been the world’s tallest Passivhaus building until a new building to be built in China removed the title.VARQUITECTS

This standard is becoming more and more common in areas of the world such as The European Unionfrom where institutions Requires new construction to be as close as possible to almost zero energy consumptionGuidelines which are then enforced in each country by its own regulations.

But, in general, more and more countries are trying to reduce the carbon footprint of new buildings. sometimes, even with striking measures, as if someone tried to impose by New York Mayor Bill de Blasiowhich proposed a ban on the construction of “classic glass and steel skyscrapers, which are incredibly inefficient”.

The measure did not advance, but it did make many people reflect on the relationship between architecture and climate change. For Kaufman, propose De Blasio makes a lot of sense: It’s not only greener, but cheaper, too. “A 30-50% glass surface is more than enough to get the required light. In an office building, for example, Only the window area above the desktop is usefulWhat is below is not everything, it will be very hot in summer and will lose heat in winter”, he reflects.

Any house can become a “passive home”. The most efficient would be those that are already built to these standards, but “could be” Renovate homes following the Passivhaus concept”, Asegura Merchant.

“It is more common in the rehabilitation of whole buildings or single-family homes,” Cordero explains, although this does not mean that an apartment cannot be air conditioned to be as close as possible to the “Passivhaus” standard. Is.

Renovated home in Asturias, Spain, following standards "passive house"
Renovated house in Asturias, Spain, following “Passivhaus” standardsduquezmora

Obviously, investing in quality content Makes the manufacturing process more expensive, “It’s true that it’s a little more expensive, but not more expensive”, recognizes Kaufman, which comes in a 5-6% more The cost of the building envelope. Other elements, such as high-quality windows, also add to the final price.

“In absolute numbers we calculate about $100 extra per m2 The habitable area of ​​a new construction, and some more for refurbishment, is about $150-200 per m2″, the expert explains.

Architect Cordero recognizes that this type of construction increases the cost of housing, especially if you want to obtain a certification provided by the Passivhaus Institute, a process that can be lengthy. “It is not mandatory, but in the end it is the seal of quality”“, Understand.

Sealed or unsealed, the goal is the same: save energy. “Clients tell us they want a home that doesn’t have to be maintained. energy hole, In the end it’s common sense: If you’re going to make a big investment like building a house, It is better to spend a little more on making it but then, month after month, it is more bearable”.

and maintenance? except for ventilation systems, which require change filter From time to time, the rest of the maintenance is the same as in traditional buildings.

In the end, Kaufman explains, It’s about thinking about the future, Passive architecture requires such low power consumption that it can use only renewable energy, something currently impossible for traditional buildings. “That’s why we need to reduce their energy demand, when we won’t have gas or other fossil sources of energy in the future.” A future that, perhaps, is not so far away.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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