MATERIALS FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
10/2016 BUILD AWARD:
Recognised Leader in Sustainable Construction & Design - Australia & Best for Environmentally Conscious & Energy
Efficient Development 2016
4 November 2014 First registered Passivhaus in Australia
Right from the start, we at Passivhaus Australia knew it would be a challenge to build the first passive house in Australia to be registered with the Passivhaus Institute in Germany.
Ordinarily we prepare our own passive house-integrated house designs but, in this case, our brief was to use an existing design, specific to Australian Standards, and transform it into a ‘Registered Passivhaus’, integrating Building Biology credentials.
Australian Standards are not comparable to ‘Passivhaus’ or ‘Building Biology’ principles. Therefore, our challenge was to build the house in a way to ensure it would pass Australian Standards, whilst meeting Passivhaus standards, using Building Biology principles. This had to be done within the limitations of local sub-contractor knowledge and skill, and all without changing the visible appearance.
Much time and creativity went into adopting the existing design, as well as researching materials and components. When required elements were not available in Australia, we imported them from Germany or Switzerland.
Another challenge was convincing local engineers, unfamiliar with the Passivhaus concept, to accept our thermal breach-free solutions and insulation proposals. After many lengthy discussions, they ultimately adopted most of our requests.
When the time arrived, our team enjoyed taping and sealing every imaginable air leak. Even Anna, our registered Passivhaus Designer, was seen up a ladder taping joints. Our efforts were rewarded when the first BlowerDoor test at lockup stage measured n50 = 0.38/h. The final test after finishing the house measured n50 = 0.40/h.
At the end of the day, we feel the final result justifies all the hard work involved, such as introducing sub-contractors to new building concepts and quality controls, as well as doing all the extra little (and big!) things necessary to reach the Passivhaus standard. We are proud to have achieved the first registered Passivhaus in Australia, particularly so given the added challenge of having to adapt a pre-existing design, rather than designing the house ourselves from scratch.
We look forward to using our experience to advancing Passivhaus integrated design in Australia and, in so doing, lifting the standard of some Australian buildings to a more energy-wise level, and increasing the awareness of these possibilities to a wider public.