5 Key Factors of Energy Efficient Design
In today’s world, where environmental concerns and energy costs are top of mind, designing buildings that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also eco-friendly and cost-effective has never been more important. Many architects aim for the Passive House design standard, which prioritises insulation, superior windows, ventilation and heat recovery, and airtight construction.
In this blog we’ll take a look at 5 key factors of energy-efficient construction:
1. Super Insulation:
One of the foundational principles of Passive House design is super insulation. This involves significantly increasing the insulation levels of the building envelope, including walls, roof, and floors. The goal is to minimize heat loss during the colder months and reduce heat gain in the warmer months, creating a stable and comfortable indoor climate year-round.
Key aspects of super insulation include:
- High-quality insulation materials.
- Continuous insulation without thermal bridging.
- Proper installation to eliminate gaps and voids.
2. Airtight Construction:
Airtightness is crucial in Passive House design. An airtight building envelope prevents the infiltration of cold or warm outdoor air and the escape of conditioned indoor air. Achieving a high level of airtightness helps maintain a consistent indoor temperature and reduces the need for mechanical heating and cooling.
Airtight construction principles include:
- Careful sealing of joints, seams, and penetrations.
- The use of airtight membranes and tapes.
- Blower door testing to verify airtightness levels.
3. High-Performance Windows and Doors:
Energy-efficient projects require high-performance windows and doors designed to minimize heat loss and maximize solar gain. These windows and doors typically have multiple glazing layers, low-emissivity coatings, and insulated frames.
Characteristics of high-performance windows and doors include:
- Triple glazing for improved thermal insulation.
- Low U-values (indicating low heat transfer).
- Solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) tailored to the building’s orientation.
4. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR):
Controlled ventilation is essential to maintain indoor air quality while conserving energy. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems continuously supply fresh, filtered air while simultaneously extracting stale indoor air. Heat exchangers recover and transfer heat from the outgoing air to the incoming fresh air, reducing the need for additional heating or cooling.
MVHR systems offer the following benefits:
- Energy-efficient ventilation.
- Improved indoor air quality.
- Reduced humidity and condensation issues.
5. Minimal Energy Demand:
Ultimately, the Passive House standard aims to drastically reduce a building’s energy demand for space heating and cooling. By combining the principles of super insulation, airtightness, high-performance windows, and efficient mechanical ventilation, Passive Houses can achieve energy savings of up to 90% compared to conventional buildings.
Achieving minimal energy demand involves:
- Careful design and planning to optimize energy use.
- Use of energy-efficient appliances and lighting.
- Integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.
These principles work together to create buildings that are exceptionally energy-efficient, comfortable, and sustainable, making Passive House construction a leading approach in the quest for greener and more comfortable buildings.
Ultimate Coatings Ltd. have installed the airtight coating in record breaking projects, including the Archive Building at the Imperial War Museum, which became the most airtight building in Europe. If you want expert advice on installing airtight coatings into your project please get in touch.