Passive Houses -- Engineering Homes for Nothern Climes That Do Not Require Heating

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by mkrishnan, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/world/europe/27house.html?pagewanted=all

    One more from NYT... this one because it's just really cool. :eek:

     
  2. macrumors 65816

    mcavjame

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    #2
    Talk about needing to monitor carbon monoxide.
     
  3. thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    This part is actually slightly counterintuitive. The house is hermetically sealed and heavily insulated to prevent incidental air exchange with the outside, but air is continually brought in to the house.

    The article states the air also passes through a HEPA filter, FWIW, in the process.
     
  4. macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #4
    Wow, that is a neat house. It is amazing how they are able to heat the house without requiring a furnace.

    I am even more amazed at the cost. One would assume that it would cost a good deal more for the technology, but it fact, the cost is not that much more than a conventional house.

    Thanks for sharing this article with us mkrishnan. :)
     
  5. Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #5
    Interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

    I found this tidbit interesting:

    Here in Japan, most apartments and homes are small. This may be wonderful system for use here. Well, except they have terrible mold here. That issue would need to be solved.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

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    #6
    There is not much technology too it. Basic concept is to take the money saved from not installing a furnace and use that money for additional insulation, high performance windows (triple glass) and a heat recovery ventilator (simple mechanical device).

    Most of the "magic" comes from good design and as such is not particularly expensive, though not necessarily easy to find....
     
  7. thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #7
    The American version would clearly need a few unwarranted multitouch control panels, some laser cut aluminum alloy, vague references to nanotechnology, and a smattering of faux carbon fiber or no one would buy it. ;)
     
  8. macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #8
    Pretty awesome, however the limitation of 500 square feet/person is a bit tiny. Maybe my perceptions are just messed up though...we've got about 1400 sqft/person right now. Combo the passive-house tech with a bit of geothermal supplementary heating and you could probably do pretty well as far as expanding goes, though.
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #9
    I wonder what the average space per person is for the US?

    I know here in Japan, it's sub 500 square feet. If I had to guess, I would say that the average in Japan is around 300 square feet.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    teflon

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    #10
    It sounds like a neat idea, but I wonder, is using all those extra insulation and triple glass window less environmentally friendly than just using an electric heating system?
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    JG271

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    #11
    True. I guess it all depends how long the house lasts for, ideally a hybrid system would be best I suppose...
     
  12. macrumors Core

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    #12
    awesome system. i wonder how the cooling is during the summer months? and just how cold the outside weather can be before having an impact on inside temperatures.
     
  13. Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #13
    I would be interested in the answers to these two questions as well.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

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    #14
    For cooling they have so much insulation that they often don't need any, if they do then its possible to use an "earth loop", air is brought into the house via a long pipe buried in the ground. This cools the air before it enters the building.


    These houses work, with minimal heating, in climates that see 0°F (-17C).

    They work by storing heat during the day from sun light (in a concrete foundation) and releasing that heat at night. So if its cloudy out then obviously heating is required, however as they are highly insulated they only need a small amount of heat, in the region 1KW, for the coldest days.

    Colder than that, in the arctic circle, such houses do not work AFAIK. Its far too cold and there is not enough winter sun light. Still, the houses are built to the same standard...but when its -22 outsite the heat loss through well insulated walls and windows is significant enough to benefit from some kind of real heating.



    Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house
     
  15. Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #15
    Cool.

    Thanks for the link.

    IMHO, this is a wonderful way to build homes.
     
  16. macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

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    #16
    One problem would be people in humid climates. You would at least need to add a dehumidifier into the system in Georgia for mid spring to mid fall. Other areas of the World are far worse in humidity.

    Since these houses are hermetically sealed are they Ant proof? If so I am sold. I have always dreamed of owning an Ant proof home. Maybe a solid concrete pad surrounded by a moat.

    You could always build a hobbit house. The earth is used for insulation and if their is enough earth around it the house should maintain an even temperature throughout the year. These kinds of houses are even friendlier environmentally I would assume since you do not need all of the man made insulation.

    Incidentally the Hobbit House besides being environmentally friendly also looks really awesome.
     
  17. thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #17
    I think this is a really good point, but OTOH, could you imagine if, tomorrow by magic, every home in the Northern developed world, to which this technology is more readily applicable, from Russia to Northern Europe to Iceland to the Northern States and Canada were replaced with one of these? The environmental benefits would be huge.

    I wonder... one thing about this design is that it takes the local needs into consideration very carefully, making it well suited to our kind of climate up here. I mean, for that matter, these houses have basements, I think, right? That itself would eliminate them from implementation in much of the South of the US. I really wonder if it would be better to take a design platform like this and re-engineer it for humid, warm climates, or if it would be smarter to start over in a place like Florida or Georgia or Greece and design a house that was suited to the climate in the first place?
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    teflon

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    #18
    Wow the hobbit house looks pretty cool, it's like a fantastical little retreat :). Thanks for sharing! However, would it work as well on flat land? It seems to have saved a lot of material because it sits inside a hill.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

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    #19

    Don't need basements. They exist in European houses because land is so expensive that it cheaper to build down than across.

    Not really intended for predominantly humid climates. Never the less there are ways to deal with that too...easiest being to move further north :D
     
  20. macrumors 601

    Don't panic

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    #20
    1400 sqft/person is a LOT of space.
    in cities, it apts are way smaller than that, at least in the US.

    a typical NYC 2 bedroom apartment (for a family of 3/4) is usually less than 1000 sq ft.
    2000 sqft for a family of 4 is plenty of space; something along 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, kitchen and studio, all of reasonable size.
     
  21. thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #21
    Yes, in cities, that is very true, albeit in suburban / rural spaces, it is generally not. I think the problem isn't so much having 2000 sq feet for 4 people (which to me is quite livable, particularly when the children are young... harder if it's a husband, wife, and two high schoolers) as it is scaling that down -- while I think 2000 sq ft for 4 is fine, I'm suffering having gone from 800 sq ft to about 600 sq ft for just myself, and I could not imagine living in 500 sq ft total. This is simply because some things don't scale down -- I still need my own bathroom and kitchen and so on.

    On the other hand, I don't really understand how this is a rate limiting element of the house. If you have a person who lives by themselves in a small-moderate house or a condo (say 1500-1800 sq ft, which "should be" enough for 3 people +), then how is it any less of a gain in efficiency for that one person to move into a "passive" house of 1500 sq ft and live there by themselves? Granted, he/she would be less efficient than sharing that place with two other people, but it would still be a huge improvement over their traditional home, non?
     
  22. macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #22
    I do find it cool how the home takes advantage of the heat already there.

    My appartment is very conformable when the out side temperature is between 55-65 degree as the electrics anything else generating heat tends to put enough out to keep the apartment at around 72-75 degrees.

    Now cooling places like that will struggle more with internal heat generation than anything else. At a certain point like maybe 60 it might have to find a way to dump heat outside.
     
  23. macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Not helping in Canada (even southern), it's been -45 (celsius) here (Calgary) for a while now
     
  24. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #24
    Would have been funny to see a home like that with a "Heated by 2 PowerMac G5s" sign out front.
     
  25. macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #25
    Very true! :D

    When I had my 2.3GHz DP Power Mac G5, it kept my room nice and toasty (especially in summer). :cool:
     

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