Timber and Sustainability

What is a Passive House?

Avino offer a range of passive house windows and doors that offer the highest levels of certified performance of any system. With timber frames and high specification glass, these passive house windows keep heat in and elevate a building to an eco build.

Passive House is a Construction Concept for Low Energy Buildings

Unlike other low energy building schemes, Passive House is not a brand name. Passive House is an approach to building that looks to reduce energy consumption of the building from the very inception of its idea.

Established by the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany in 1996, “passive house” was a pioneering concept for building low-energy houses and is today a leading building standard.

True Passive House buildings could easily offer a reduction of energy consumption of 75% when compared to a typical low energy, eco home. This is a substantial saving to both the owner, but also the environment.

When creating a Passive House project you are not just looking at the thermal efficiency of the envelope (including the use of passive house windows and doors). Instead you are looking to create a building that is truly energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and ecological at the same time.

What Makes a Building Passive House

In order to be considered a Passive House, a building must meet several criteria set out by the Passihaus Institute to achieve the passive house standard: 

  • The energy demand for heating the building must not exceed 15 kWh/m2 of living space per year or 10W/m2 at peak demand.
  • Total energy needed for all applications (heating, hot water and domestic electricity) must not exceed 60 kWh/m2of living space per year.
  • Passive buildings must be very airtight and should have no more than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure.
  • Living areas should be comfortable all year round, with no more than 10 percent of the hours in a given year exceeding 25°C.

To be able to achieve all of the above, the design of the building must be carefully considered. Many architects who create passive house buildings are specially trained to consider all aspects of the building to create a passive house environment.

The key points that must be considered are:

  • To have no thermal bridging – the interior and exterior structures must be completely thermally separated
  • High performance passive house windows are an important part of the building envelope
  • Ventilation and heat recovery systems
  • High quality insulation
  • An air tight construction

Passive House Heating and Cooling

The methodology of the Passive House technique is in the name.

The building is designed to be as passive in its environment as possible, drawing as little energy from external sources as it can.

Energy is considered within the structure, shape, placement, orientation and design of a passive house building in order to maximize the energy the building can generate itself. Heating and cooling energy savings that can be achieved from a passive house start at approx. 90% when compared to a typical building and over 75% when compared to a low energy home.

The building can be designed to use internal energy sources – such as the body heat of occupants or solar radiation – to keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature.

It is because of this that the placement and orientation of passive house windows and doors is extremely important in a passive house design. Windows are a must – not only for the comfort of the occupants – but to provide passive heating via solar radiation.

The windows must be placed within the architectural design in a way that will maximize heat generation in the winter months without overheating the space in warmer times.

Ventilation and Passive House

As the structure of a Passive House building is extremely air tight, the inclusion of a form of fresh air into the interior is important. Passive House ventilation systems allow natural air to flow through the building whilst not allowing any of the self made energy to escape.

The windows on passive house buildings do not include ventilation strips unless they are fully tested and certified as part of the passive house certification.

Instead, the ventilation is achieve through specialty designed mechanisms.

It is a difficult balance for passive house designers to achieve but it is a key important feature of a successful passive house design.

Specifying Passive House Windows and Doors

If you are designing a true passive house that will be certified on completion, you should look to use certified passive house windows or door systems from the early design stages of your project, as the certification process can pose a challenge later on if the specified products don't already meet the rigorous passive house standards.

As timber suppliers and sub-contractors, Avino technical experts work closely with architects and developers to provide the correct specification of passive house products. From design to installation, the Avino team ensures that each chosen system is custom made to perfectly suit to the desired architectural specification.

The Avino Passiv is a range of windows and doors that carry the passive house certification and can be used on passive house rated projects.

If you are looking to achieve low Uw values and high air tightness, passive house standards can be achieved with a range of our timber windows and doors.

Speak to the team at Avino today to talk to us about your passive house project and what can be achieved with the glazing and windows.