PASSIVE DESIGN – THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

November 11, 2014

Through the use of clever planning and the implementation of passive design principles we can use the local conditions to create beautiful spaces that are not only comfortable all year round but also feel refreshing, uplifting and inspiring. Passive Design Principles can dramatically reduce and even eliminate the need for any mechanical heating and cooling equipment. There are multiple benefits to this process; the building costs less to run, it’s easier to maintain and also it significantly reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it releases into the atmosphere.

The idea of Passive design is that buildings should be designed to provide comfortable living temperatures all year round, taking advantage of the natural climatic conditions, rather than using mechanical ventilation, heating or cooling.

A beautiful building should not only look breathtaking, it should be uplifting; it should feel comfortable and be able to naturally respond to the needs of you no matter what time of year we are in. A building shouldn’t be an inanimate object, rather it’s a living system that can be adjusted and attuned to suit the occasion.

Within Australia there are many different climate zones. We can tell you all about this, being based in Melbourne means we’re often subject to the ‘four seasons in one day’ but we can’t say we’d exchange it for the hot and humid conditions of far North Queensland! These different and often extreme weather patterns can sometimes result in very unpleasant building conditions. Therefore to achieve a comfortable passive building it’s important to understand not only the characteristics of the local environment but also the sites unique microclimate which is often informed by the sites immediate surroundings.

Local wind direction, neighbouring buildings and the contours of the land will all effect and impact the way a design solution is approached and achieved.

In order to realise the best outcome the designer should put the proposed design through a rigorous research and experimentation phase to ensure passive design principle are being met and applied.
Using the latest in 2D, 3D AND BIM (Building Information Modelling) architects and designers are now able to computer generate models that analyse proposed building within a virtual landscape.

This means a proposed design can be accurately assessed on how it will perform and operate within its unique microclimate. Design decisions are then informed as a result providing a sophisticated
level of comfort no matter where the location is, or the time of year it might be.

The next series of blogs will explore some of the principles behind good passive design enabling you to activate your home and learn how to control and adjust it according to the condition.
So what are some passive design principles?

Orientation…
Heating…
Cooling…
Thermal Mass…
Insulation…
Ventilation…