What is a Passive Design?

A ‘Passive Design’ is home designed and constructed to take advantage of the climate, maintaining a comfortable temperature range in the home all year round. These custom and clever designs reduce or eliminate the need for auxiliary heating or cooling, which accounts for about 40% of energy use in the average Australian home.
I don’t know about you but we really don’t like power bills! And every year we feel busier and busier, making it seem harder and harder to get out to cut our loads of wood, to get us through the winter.
When it comes to passive home design, this energy efficiency is achieved by appropriately orientating your home on its site and carefully designing the building envelope (roof, walls, windows, and floors of a home). Well-designed building envelopes minimise unwanted heat gain and loss, yay!
The importance of passive design cannot be underestimated and the most economical time to achieve good passive design is when you’re in the initial design stages.However, if your needing to undertake substantial renovations to an existing home this timing can also offer a cost-effective opportunity to redesign and or upgrade, achieving more thermal comfort. Even small changes can deliver noticeable improvements.

I want to buy a home, What do I need to consider?

If you’re buying a new home or apartment, assess its prospects for thermal comfort and/or ability to be cost-effectively upgraded to reflect good passive design principles in its climate.

Passive Design 10 Key Strategies

1. Design for climate
In the South West of Western Australia we sit in two-zone types; 5 – Warm Temperate and 6 – Mild Temperate. Both of these climates present cost-effective opportunities to achieve positive outcomes, so make the most of your home locations, it’s not all about the views but the quality and comfort that we live in. To do more reading about zone types and their specific considerations visit www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/design-climate.
2. Orientation
Orientation refers to the way you place your home on its site to take advantage of climatic features such as sun and cooling breezes.
3. Shading
Shading of your house and outdoor spaces reduces summer temperatures, improves comfort and saves energy.
4. Passive solar heating
Passive solar heating is the least expensive way to heat your home. Put simply, design for passive solar heating keeps out summer sun and lets in winter sun while ensuring that the building envelope keeps that heat inside in winter and allows any built up heat to escape in summer.
5. Passive cooling
Passive cooling techniques need to cool both the house and the people in it — with elements such as air movement, evaporative cooling and thermal mass.
6. Sealing your home
Air leakage accounts for 15–25% of winter heat loss in buildings. Sealing your home against air leaks is one of the simplest upgrades you can undertake to increase your comfort while reducing energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Insulation
Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential for keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer. Another benefit it has is it can help with weatherproofing and soundproofing. Keep in mind, if insulation is to perform as intended then it must be correctly installed.
8. Thermal Mass
Materials like concrete, bricks and tiles have high heat storage capacity and are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass. Use of materials with high thermal mass throughout your home can save significantly on heating and cooling bills, but thermal mass must be used appropriately. Poor use can exacerbate the climate, radiating heat on a hot summer night or absorbing all the heat you produce on a winter night. Good use of thermal mass moderates indoor temperatures by averaging day−night temperature extremes.
9. Glazing
Glazed windows and doors can bring in light and fresh air, but we need to get it right!  Up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through glazing
10. Skylights
These can make a major contribution to energy efficiency and comfort. They are an excellent source of natural light, perhaps admitting more than three times as much light as a vertical window of the same size, and can improve natural ventilation. However, they can be a major source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.

Energy House Ratings

The learn more about the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), with its star classifications click here. http://www.nathers.gov.au/


Good passive home construction and design is critical to achieving a lifetime of thermal comfort, low energy bills and low greenhouse gas emissions.
At White Building Co we pride ourselves in building functional homes, so expect to have us raise suitable passive design strategies with you. It’s not a sales pitch it’s a cost-saving initiative. Think Win – Win.
Reference Source:

Commonwealth of Australia Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources [2020]. Your Home: Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homesDesign For Place is CCBY licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.