Why the passive house concept is a hit: save 90% on your electricity bill by paying 1 euro per m2 per year


The world is changing. Sustainability is no longer just a term that appears as something ethereal, but a reality that businesses – and everything in their private lives – must apply on a daily basis if we want our planet to remain habitable. And within the construction sector, the Passivhaus standard is key to the fight against global warming. All this without having to lose an iota of comfort.

The Passivhaus standard was developed in Germany at the end of the 20th century and has gradually made its way into the construction sector in many parts of the world. Spain is one of them. The first building in our country with this standard was built in Granada in 2009. Since then, numerous homes of different types have been built with this certification throughout Spain.

Passive houses, therefore, explain the Passive House Institute of Germany, are not a brand, but a construction concept that can be applied to all buildings. “It is a building standard that is energy-efficient, comfortable, affordable and environmentally friendly at the same time,” they point out.

One of the keys to this type of construction lies in energy savings. According to the Institute, such properties allow for energy savings related to heating and cooling of up to 90 per cent in the case of older houses and 75 per cent compared to average new construction.

“Our standard ensures a heating cost of 1 euro per square metre per year. A 90 square metre house would only cost 90 euros per year”, said Bruno Gutiérrez Cuevas, president of the Spanish Passivhaus Platform (PEP), a non-profit association that promotes housing renovation and sustainable construction, in an interview with EL ESPAÑOL.

How is it achieved?

The passive house concept is not only applied to the construction of new housing, but can also be applied to the refurbishment of existing homes. And the solution, as Arturo Andrés Jiménez, president of the Passivhaus Platform, points out, is simple. “It is based on making the most of the sun and the orientation of the building to capture as much energy as possible,” he told ENCLAVE ODS. From there, he added, it is enough to apply “in a coordinated and simultaneous way five basic principles in the construction of the property”.

A first principle has to do with insulation. For a property to be considered a passive house, it must have high thermal insulation, i.e. the “façades or exterior walls, roofs and exterior floors or slabs must have a low thermal transmittance”, according to DMDV Arquitectos.

Another second element is the installation of triple-glazed windows and doors, including proper installation. The third is that the passive house needs mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, as this would allow for good indoor air quality and save energy.

A fourth principle would have to do with air tightness, i.e. no uncontrolled leakage through openings of more than 0.6 of the total volume of the house per hour during a pressure test at 50 Pascals.

Finally, the last principle is the absence of thermal bridges. “All edges, corners, connections and penetrations must be carefully planned and executed to avoid thermal bridging,” explains the Passive House Institute.

By applying these criteria to construction (or refurbishment), dwellings are created with high levels of thermal comfort all year round. This, according to Gutiérrez, generates a higher level of comfort than standard properties. “The people who are going to live or work in these houses have comfort conditions far above what they normally have,” he concluded.

By El Español Diario.