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The Passive House Standard excels due to its extremely high energy savings in comparison with ordinary new constructions. These savings are achieved by efficient buildings and efficient building engineering systems and not by living “economically”. Besides careful planning of details, this requires the use of particularly energy-efficient components –which are generally about two to four times as efficient as the products commonly used. High efficiency is decisive for achieving the Passive House Standard. For the user it is not easy to determine clearly the relevant specific values of the related products, especially with regard to their permanency. Relevant experiences with initial Passive House projects prompted the Passive House Institute to formulate practice-oriented, easily checkable and clearly ascertainable criteria which need to be met by Passive-House-suitable products. These criteria are based on two categories:
It is the objective of the PHI to base the requirement standard on the physically or physiologically verifiable impartial requirements (e.g. maximum radiation temperature difference of 5 K between the half spaces, derived from ISO7730). Where this alone is not sufficient for formulating the criteria, efficiency categories have been introduced (e.g. as for Passive House windows).
Where possible, climate-independent criteria have been formulated, but this is usually less understandable for the user, and this is why criteria have also been specified for defined climate zones.
All criteria can be expressed by using measurable quantities and tested by using established methods. The specific values of the respective products that are relevant for the energy balance, as well as those for determining comfort, have been provided in the certificate (as required for an energy balance with the PHPP tool, for example).
The specific values are defined so that they really are characteristic of the component behaviour in a built Passive House (e.g. for the balance boundary of ventilation systems in relation to the building envelope).
Each of the specific values refers to the relevant product only, any limit conditions regarding the integration into the object as a whole, that have to be complied with, should also be given; for example, the installation situation of the windows. The limit conditions are always chosen with reference to realistic implementation and are not based on artificial laboratory conditions.
Certified Passive House Components are listed on the component database www.componentdatabase.org
The Passive House requires high quality components: super-insulating window frames, highly efficient ventilation units, thermal bridge free connection details, glazing that allows solar gains, compact heat pump units… For the designer, assessing the energy efficiency of components and the specific values that have to be used can be rather difficult. Specific values as described in national or regional standards are very often unrealistic or not accurate enough; reliable project planning using manufacturers’ information alone is often not possible.
As an independent authority, the Passive House Institute tests and certifies products based on their suitability for use in Passive Houses. Products that carry the “Certified Passive House Components” certificate have been tested according to uniform criteria; they are comparable in terms of their specific values, and are of excellent quality regarding energy efficiency. Their use facilitates the designer’s task and significantly contributes to ensuring the faultless functioning of the resulting Passive House.
The following external link leads to the pages of the Passive House Institute where these criteria are explained in detail:
Component Award 2016
The Passive House Institute is announcing its third Component Award, recognising high-quality, cost-effective Passive House Components.
This third edition of the Award will be dedicated to cost efficient ventilation systems. The award ceremony will take place at the 20th International Passive House Conference, to be held in Darmstadt, Germany, on 22 and 23 April 2016.
Addendum concerning the use of vacuum insulation
The introduction of vacuum insulated panels (VIPs) represents an exciting development in the range of available insulation materials for buildings. Passive House Institute (PHI) recommends that this technology be used in a controlled manner, and only where standard, non-vacuum insulation materials cannot be installed or are not economical (under consideration of life cycle costs and shorter service life compared to standard insulation materials).