One of the most important and overlooked considerations in building a comfortable and healthy home is a smart ventilation system. Ensuring your home has sufficient ventilation means that not only will your home have a constant supply of fresh air, but you will be preventing damage caused by moisture and mould.
By international standards Australian homes are poorly sealed and poorly ventilated. Buildings only allow for fresh air to be introduced by opening windows and doors, although a tried and tested method, this involves allowing in either extremely hot or cold air. Air that requires energy (money) to be heated or cooled to the desirable temperature. As the necessity for sustainable and energy efficient building grows, building a home that is well-insulated, sealed and includes a Heat Recovery Ventilation System (HRV) is increasingly becoming the standard.
HRV systems distribute fresh, clean filtered air to the living areas of your home whilst removing moist and polluted air from wet areas such as the bathroom or laundry, keeping your home at a comfortable temperature year round.
BUT I ALREADY HAVE AN AIR CONDITIONER – WHY INSTALL A HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATION SYSTEM?
HRV systems are already commonly found in commercial buildings such as hospitals, shopping centres, and offices in Australia. They are also already widely used domestically across Europe and the US. By installing a HRV/ERV (Energy Recovery System) alongside solar panelling, insulation and effective air sealing, the energy efficiency of your home will be significantly reduced, meaning less active heating or cooling is required. Reducing your bills and your impact upon the environment.
In addition, the ability of the HRV to filter incoming air as it enters the system greatly improves the air quality in your home. And with the poor to hazardous air quality many of us have been experiencing over the last few months due to the recent devastating bushfires, this is particularly important and relevant.
HRV EXPLAINED – HOW DOES HRV IMPROVE THE AIR QUALITY IN YOUR HOME?
The systems are designed to bring clean filtered air into areas within your home where you spend the most time, such as the dining and bedrooms whilst removing air from rooms with the worst air quality, such as the kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Incoming air is filtered so that pollutants are reduced.
With an HRV system, you can enjoy high-quality filtered air year-round. Fresh, clean air is great for the overall health of your home and family, especially for the young, elderly, and those with respiratory conditions (such as asthma).
INTERNAL TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Another great benefit of the HRV system is the ‘heat recovery’ part – in other words, how the system works to retain up to 90% of the heat of the outgoing exhaust air.
The below diagram illustrates how cold air captured from outside is filtered into the house and using the outgoing ‘dirty air’ is warmed to a comfortable temperature. The opposite can be applied for Summer.
You can then see how that process translates into the rest of the house.
FOR A HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE HOME, AN HRV SYSTEM IS A WISE INVESTMENT
With the increasing efficiency requirements of new homes, and the recent poor air quality experienced in many parts of Australia, technology that has the ability to filter air coming into the home and reduce the need for active heating and cooling, has never been more relevant and necessary.
So if you’re building a new home, and looking for ways to make it cleaner, healthier and more efficient, a Heat Recovery Ventilation system should be high on your list of priorities.
It’s important to be well informed whilst maintaining a realistic view of what is achievable. The majority of building companies will get your attention by proposing advertising such as “more space for less cost” or “free ducted air conditioning”.
For the average home buyer, this is a trap. Going through one of these building companies will leave you with an ordinary, poorly designed home that has been built to meet the bare minimum of building standards. Sure, it may look great but it is far from being a High Performance Home.
Having a High Performance Home is so much more than just adding a few solar panels.
Some critical decisions in regard to needs and wants have to be made early. Do you really need a McMansion? Or would you consider reducing the footprint size and incorporating structural and building features that will make a huge difference during the lifetime of the home.
For example, isolating the slab from the ground ensures that your home is future proofed from mould and condensation. A kitchen benchtop or bathroom vanity can always be changed and modernised every few years, but the “skeleton” structure of the home can be very difficult and expensive to change later down the track.
Balancing needs and wants vs. affordability is the challenge that most of us face.
There are design fundamentals that are free and must be incorporated early in the design process in relation to the location, ie: Solar orientation, natural light and ventilation exposure.
Building a High Performance Home will initially cost you slightly more, but in the long run will be your most intelligent and cheaper option.
TIP 2 | Select an Experienced Team
Planning to build a High Performance Home requires the expertise and knowledge of many people over a wide array of professions. Architects, Building Designers, Engineers, Certifiers are just a few.
Avoid using inexperienced people. By selecting a team that has prior experience you can be sure that they have a passion to provide, and deliver a finished product that meets the criteria.
It is easier said than done to find a cohesive team of professionals that share the same values, and have a common interest in providing great quality work.
We are all familiar with horror stories within the building industry that have occured from undertrained building professionals and a lack of supervision.
As with all things in life, choosing a quality team will be more expensive at first but imagine the potential cost of bad design or bad building practices. Above all, do your research. Not just based on fees but the value that they will bring to your project.
TIP 3 | Select the Right Building Materials
Choosing the right environmentally-friendly and high-performance building materials is critical for building a High Performance Home.
The choice is getting increasingly harder, there are so many variables, and alternative options out there. It can be hard to know if you’re selecting the right option.
The building materials you select will be a big factor in determining not just the purchase cost, but will also impact the future indoor air quality of your home, the durability of your house, and the interior surfaces. It will also affect how much home maintenance you may be required to do in the future.
Check the product data sheets on the websites of material providers to learn the chemical composition of materials, air and vapor permeability, as well as proper applications and installation techniques.
The market is flooded with material providers that claim their products are the best “sustainable greener etc”. There are some building products in the Australian market that are not allowed to be used in Europe, so use this to your advantage!
To produce a High performance Home, products and building techniques, like air sealing using adequate insulation and vapour driven air barriers is important to get right .All product selections need to be finalized before you sign any agreements so make sure you are aware of exactly what you are purchasing. This will prevent the builder from purchasing a cheaper, inferior or even toxic product to increase their profit margin.
TIP 4 | Contractual Obligations… Avoid Variations
There are two parts to each building project.
The most experienced design professionals will have 3D rendered drawings. If all the material choices and specification of works is detailed and complete in writing, there is obviously a lot less room for error or mistakes.
Contractual obligations need to be detailed and specific, once this is achieved, it is difficult to make mistakes, unless you start making variations of contract.
It is common in the building industry to charge high margins for variations of contracts, the onus is on you to avoid it, therefore ensuring your project runs on time and on budget.
TIP 5 | Building your High Performance Home
A High performance home, either being a new home or a major renovation doesn’t just happen by chance. High performance passive homes are a holistic approach to building using the right design, the right experienced teams and the right materials.
Unless traditional construction… A home either is or isn’t high performance. There are no guesses, planning software tools and checking measures during the build are required to ensure you will end up with the expected result, not just an ordinary home with solar panels on the roof.
High performance homes use 60 to 90% less energy with superior levels of comfort with consistent temperatures throughout the year, and are healthy, with less dust, pollen and illnesses for the entire family.
In the short term, yes, it can be more expensive in labor and materials compared to building a standard home – however in the long run, it will be one of the best investments for your family and the environment.
Bushfires are adding to this phenomena, increasing air pollution in cities around Australia.
A lack of awareness and weak building standards is affecting our health in unprecedented numbers like never before.
Air pollution is associated with cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, pregnancy complications, sleep disorders, pregnancy disorders, lung cancer, and the list goes on.
More than 3000 Australians die from exposure to air pollution each year, and current air pollution standards are not strong enough to protect human health.
Recently, the Australian government has warned that air quality levels in some Australian cities are 3 to 4 times above pollution levels that the World Health Organization recommends.
As cities develop and become bigger and busier there are many other factors to be concerned about than just bushfire smoke and dust storms. Increased activity means an increased amount of pollutants and toxins are released into the atmosphere, directly affecting the quality of air you and your family breath.
Long term exposure to inhaling carbon monoxide can be deadly, CO binds strongly to our haemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body, at 100 parts per million it can starve the human body of oxygen.
With bushfire smoke surrounding our cities, the most dangerous component to our health are the microscopic particles we don’t see which are easily carried by the wind, penetrating our homes.
These are particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres known as PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter.
These invisible particles are measured by the following Air Quality Index:
From August to November 2019, Canberra’s AQI was nearly 450ppm. This posed a serious health risk with particles penetrating into the lungs and making their way into the bloodstream. During this time Canberra had the highest recorded AQI in the world.
What do or Authorities Recommend?
Authorities advise spending more time indoors. But does it really work? Is that the solution?
Most homes and apartment buildings are designed to be naturally ventilated. The National Construction Code requires most habitable rooms to have an opening for light and natural ventilation.
Closing windows and doors reduce the number of Air Changes, which is the number of times an hour the internal air gets replaced with the outside air.
In Australia the CSIRO reveals that our homes continue to be quite “air leaky”.
High Performance Homes require homes to have less than one Air Change/Hour. Most new homes in Australia have 12 to 23 ACH, quite a significant difference.
As the external pollution gradually worsens outside our homes so does the amount of pollution inside our homes. We are exposed to increasing amounts of Carbon Monoxide, Benzene, Formaldehyde, Naphthalene, Nitrogen dioxide, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Radon, Trichloroethylene to name a few.
This is a major concern for all of us, but what can we do about it?
“SPENDING MORE TIME INDOORS IS CLEARLY NOT THE SOLUTION.”
Air purifiers are expensive to run and you would require one for every room.
Air conditioner filtering systems are not equipped to filter fine particles.
And what about internal pollution? VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) in building materials, furniture, smoking, cooking and heating, off-gassing of chemicals, garages… All of which are inside your home.
What happens when you leave your car closed in the sun? It overheats obviously, the same happens to the homes, and particularly if they are completely air sealed.
So if opening the windows is not a practical solution and sealing the building from the outside air is also unfeasible, what is the solution for a Healthy Home?
Fortunately, the solution exists!
Although building biology and technologies have improved, unfortunately regulations and standards have not. High Performance Homes are the solution and can be achieved to suit most budgets.
If the solution exists then why is it not compulsory?
Great question! One we will have to leave that for another article.
What is important now is to find out what you can do to ensure that your new home or renovation is future proofed using the highest performance building standards.
You need to create a Thermal Envelope around all living areas. Air sealing the home with vapor driven wall wraps, and reduce the number of air changes per hour @ 50 pascals of pressure.
Then you will need an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator). This is what we call the lungs of the home, it helps maintain the desired air temperature whilst also introducing clean fresh air into your home.
How do they work?
An ERV allows fresh air into the home whilst retaining pre conditioned heating or cooling and operates on the basis of the air-to-air exchange theory. Incoming air is passed through a filter and mixed with the outgoing pre conditioned air from your home. This means that fresh air from outside is introduced whilst being cooled down in exchange for stale air from inside. This also ensures a consistent level of humidity.
Perhaps the most attractive feature is the massive increase in energy efficiency savings in comparison to using technologies such as air conditioning (AC). Most ERV units offer 75% to 95% energy recovery, resulting in reduced power bills and a further environmentally friendly home. A spinning wheel, or stationary core device utilizes the counter flow of air to remove the stale air from inside, while retaining air temperature.
Most units offer 75 to 90% energy recovery, the result is reduced power bills, and very comfortable filtered fresh air.
A small disadvantage to this technology is natural events like the recent bushfires and dust storms will require you to replace the air filters more often.
Currently there is no better technology in the world to achieve a healthy home with superior levels of comfort, while reducing your power bills, and significantly reducing
Your carbon footprint to help the environment. It’s a no brainer and can be achieved with any design, within any size home.
If you are in the research phase to build a new home or a major renovation this report is specifically for you.
Most people take for granted that Australian building codes will protect them, they assume they are getting the latest state of the art 6-star building technology.
Design looks fantastic, the floor plans are a dream, so why wouldn’t it be?
Unfortunately, it is not the case.
Normally most people only find this out the hard way, after they move in and start to experience the performance of their home through summer and winter.
The bad news – We have some of the worst-performing homes in the developed world.
There is a mould epidemic, heating and cooling demand is enormous, your electricity bills keep rising, carbon emissions are maximised, and people think solar panels are the solution.
Current building codes aren’t adequate to combat the problems.
There is no testing required, what is designed on paper is not how the home will perform in reality, not giving you the benefits you are expecting.
Building a new home or a major renovation is not as simple as it used to be, and everyone you talk to seems to be a design and build or real estate expert.
There is a lot more to be aware of, particularly when you are planning one of life’s most expensive journeys. It pays to be aware and learn as much as possible before you dive into design and building.
Regardless of design, building costs and your partners, if you implement just some of the measures within your project, we feel we have done our job.
HOW TO AVOID FINDING OUT THE EXPENSIVE WAY?
Yes, there is a solution that has been developed over the last 28 years.
Passivhaus, a Science Based building standard role model for eco-friendly housing and built to last for future generations. There are a whole bunch of reasons why they assist the environment, increase wellbeing and significantly reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.
This building standard is becoming ‘mainstream’ and more affordable by the minute. Governments the world over are increasingly confident that Passivhaus Building standards should become the world building code, for all climate regions.
Timeless and modern, Passive House standards can be adapted to suit both brand new or retrofit existing homes. Design or features are in no way restricted or limited.
Owners might even wish to pursue worldwide certification, prooving that your home is, in fact, unparalleled in comfort, health and environmental impact.
Think of your lifestyle as being a world-class standard. When you live in a Passive House, each design is progressive and dedicated to the healthiest living standards – for all levels of the market – supplying the cleanest breathing air, low-cost energy bills and stylish interiors.
This is science-based eco-engineering at its apex.
Easier said than done, creating what’s known as a ‘thermal envelope’, a blanket all around the home (inclusive of the glass) needs to comply with simple but strict guidelines to achieve the standard.
Taking a ‘fabric first’ approach to insulation, the ability to ensure your home’s energy bill is extremely low without harming the environment and with no restrictions on your desired architectural style.
Preventing heat or cooling loss, the building materials are carefully selected for each climate zone.
If you can imagine a ‘thermos’ the walls and the lid are super-tight when closed. The amount of energy to heat or cool is only complete once and the temperature will last for a long time.
Glass and high-performance windows are critical when it comes to achieving a Passive House. Your glass can provide insulation that reduces the loss of heat or cooling by up to 40%, and this is critical to achieving superior thermal efficiencies.
Current building standards ask you to insulate the walls, but then accept minimum glass & window standards?
Losing so much heating/cooling through the glass… It could well be the equivalent of purchasing a new fridge with a couple of holes.
A High-Performance home requires double or triple glazing filled with argon gas, with Low–e glass to help create a continuous thermal envelope.
Once the walls, floor, roof and windows are insulated effectively, the main route for heat-loss is through air leakage.
Minimizing air leakage to achieve airtightness is pivotal to achieving a High-Performance Home.
The materials required to achieve this need to allow low moisture transport in winter and a high degree of drying in summer.
Moisture in insulation needs to dry out repetitively so mould has no chance to grow.
We achieve this with humidity variable vapour retarder airtightness membranes. Technology all available right here and right now, but most builders are not using it.
Standard code accepts ‘minimum standards’, perhaps a reason why there we get mould epidemics in Australia, and it’s because we keep using 1970 technology to build our homes.
Not to be confused with ventilation, current building codes and our building standards, do not measure the amount of air leakage.
To get an indication of why the majority of new homes are poorly built; Most new homes when measured for air airtightness, results show 12-20 (Air changes per hour) and a Passive Home needs to achieve less than 1 (Air changes per hour).
With current GreenStar standards, up to a level of 20 (Air changes per hour) is acceptable, which is the equivalent of your brand new fridge operating with no seals.
Please be informed, don’t let your most expensive investment get built with outdated technology.
Natural ventilation has proven to be costly on building maintenance, human health and the environment through continuous heating and cooling. Many of us have become accustomed to living in these buildings where the gaps and leakiness rely on a form of uncontrolled ventilation to ensure that things remain steady in terms of airflow.
Air Conditioning dries up and recirculates the existing air.
Our homes once tested can be 5 times more polluted than the outdoor air.
PassivHomes use a balanced mechanical ventilation system with energy or heat recovery that transfers recovered heat/energy from the stale outgoing air to the fresh incoming air.
This new air is also filtered, giving you peace of mind that you and your family are protected from the external environment.
Occupants living in passive homes reportedly mention better sleep patterns and fewer allergies.
We want to believe that we have pure fresh air in our cities, please check daily air pollution forecasts in your area, and you will soon realise that unfortunately, it’s not as good as we think.
But how bad is Australia’s air pollution?
More than 3000 Australians die from exposure to air pollution each year. Thousands of others suffer health effects like stroke, heart disease and asthma. Australia’s current air pollution standards are not strong enough to protect human health.
Natural Ventilation, beeswax candles, house plants, essential oils, natural air purifiers are not the cure…
We don’t like to be the bearer of bad news but it is the reality, and if you are building or renovating you’re in luck as there is a solution available now.
Minimising or eliminating thermal bridges is another requirement to achieve a High-Performance home.
As the name suggests, transfer of heat or cold through the materials affects the indoor air temperatures, cold or hot spots.
A bit more care in planning ensures a lifetime of comfort.
Call us ‘biased’ but Passivhaus is the highest level of building standard in the world, period.
When you go to the effort of building your own home, the last thing that you want to encounter is a homewrecker such as black mould. Search engines will show you a number of black mould outbreak headlines across Australia. Year after year warnings for asthma and allergies are given amidst heavy rain that sees manifestations of it within cars, houses, pillows, clothing and all different types of fabric.
If it’s not the tropical states such as NT and QLD, where there are loads of possessions becoming infested – Cities across Australia experience ‘crazy weather’ that can trigger heartbreaking manifestations.
One in three homes become affected by toxic mould and a further 1 in 5 rentals become toxic or abandoned due to cosmetic property maintenance procedures.
Floods are causing people to move out of their homes, but in many cases, the less obvious manifestations are just as tragic; possessions are lost and people are forced to move out of the mould.
Even though scientists and doctors are still linking symptoms of illness directly to condensation. The health symptoms are so broad that people are only attributing them to mould after leaving their houses.
Mould and Our Homes
When sitting at the office of a display village, it’s easy to become swept up in your dream vision. But in today’s market, the majority of large standardized home builders are rarely concerned about ventilation. To them, it’s more so about keeping heating and cooling locked inside. This leads to a lack of airflow and air-tightness which creates condensation and mould.
Have you noticed that most Display homes have air conditioning running full time? If they were left with windows open, the uncomfortable heat is unbearable. So if these are the display homes, would you think your home will be any better?
Once there is a build-up of air, the lack of ventilation causes humidity that doesn’t allow for damp surfaces to dry out. Windows and fans are hardly enough to ensure that any stale or water-vapour infused air is replaced; Just as mould decomposes dead leaves and tree’s outdoors, water left on a surface only takes spores 48 hours to start doing this to your house, mostly within the insulation of your home which is unseen.
Most building designers say the answer to mould and condensation problems are unique for every property depending on the size of windows and location of the house.
These are mostly for solutions that are made based on untrailed and un-researched methods of ventilation.
Scientific analysis has been published to suggest that people should use purge ventilation with windows. However, in order for this to happen enough on average, windows would have to be opened for 5-10 minutes every 3 hours, even at night! Newspapers claim that people should resort to their own trial and error processes, but who has time to do that?
Not only is the Passive House able to ventilate with or without opening windows, but the ventilation system will also collaborate with carefully selected building fabrics; clearing vapour from the air across each room. You can easily maintain the highest state of thermal wellbeing. No component of the building would ever allow for mould to prosper.
Lastly, thermal bridges are minimized between the building elements… What does this mean for mould? There is no condensation in the first place. The inner-fabric of the home essentially remains dry, along with the air that is monitored for humidity by the ventilation systems…
Common Preventable Causes:
Whilst there is an increasing number of complaints being made about mould to Australia’s Building Commission, here are some common reasons that buildings are prone to condensation:
Poorly ventilated roof spaces that breath moisture and therefore mould
Positioning a home in a water prone area such as a flood plain or a watercourse.
Lack of drainage that supports the home.
Planting garden beds against the home.
Uncontrolled humidity entering the home.
Concrete slabs and footings in contact with ground absorbing moisture.
Thermal bridges between building materials where condensation occurs.
And many more…
Worst Case Scenario
Interstitial condensation is achieved within a 7-degree difference in outdoor/indoor temperatures.
Mould grows in between wall cavities and within the insulation than can not dry out. It often goes highly undetected and as one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution, is most often discovered at the time that building inspectors go through the house; after an offer has been made to sell.
It’s a cause of serious health issues and directly attributed to ‘sick building syndrome’
The building fabrics of a Passive House are designed to avoid and prevent this.
How Does the Mould Spread?
Once dew point starts to occur, water within its gaseous air travelling invisible form will turn into droplets of water. They’re often so harmless that our children might start to draw smiley faces in the windows. You often see it on the lawns, cars and houses where it is quickly forgotten.
Once the mould spores reach a damp surface they start to feed off bacteria, which are just about everywhere within a home. Most buildings and furniture are the ideal feeding ground for mould, and it often becomes difficult to identify the source of the moisture. Opening a window or two might assist, but once the invisible spores are sitting on a surface for more than 48 hours, the microbes will attempt to take over space by producing endotoxins, mycotoxins and all kinds of microbial organic compounds that can dramatically reduce the indoor air quality.
Ensuring that air is cured isn’t as easy as opening a window; Frosty water streaming windows, sweaty looking walls, dampness soaking through, wallpaper peeling, tiles popping off walls… All of these things are tell-tale signs of condensation that still happen within regular homes; placing the home and the people within it at risk. In properties where the air is not cured, there are easily manifestations of mould.
Is your house closed during the day? Overheating of building materials, the thermal mass absorbs the heat and transfers inside by poorly quality government approved walls.
Using design and building software, all 5 elements of achieving a Passive House and reducing humidity or dry air is done through balanced pressure-controlled ventilation. This will ensure the proper distribution of fresh air in all rooms and safe dehumidification of kitchens and bathrooms.
Overall, the ventilation system of a Passive House is about supplying fresh and filtered air, and exhausting polluted from odorous areas and directing flow throughout the house; ensuring that the ventilation functions properly.
The good quality air is an important pre-requisite for a healthy and comfortable living environment. There is no re-circulated air which equals hygienic air quality. The convenient solution is to supply and exhaust air systems with heat recovery.
Do you ever feel that your home feels “stuffy”? Cold/hot spots in different times of the year, this doesn’t happen in a High-performance Home.
Just the right quantities of fresh air that are required for good health and comfort are supplied. Only filtered air enters the living areas, there is no recirculation, which provides hygienic air quality. This is all possible with flow rate adjustment in ventilation systems, automatic volume flow and designed for the volume of air in your home.
Mould and Health Affects
The most important thing about mould in relation to health is its tendency to destroy building materials.
Inhaling or touching mould or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions such as asthma attacks, eye irritants, skin, nose and throat and lungs can also occur due to allergic and non-allergic causes.
Mould has devastating effects on those who can’t make antibodies against it (75% of the population), and research on the extent is still ongoing. Given that fungi and mould have been around for such a long time… Why are they such a health problem now?
WELL, here it is:
Scientists have discovered that the chemical slew of microbes (bacteria and fungi) as well as their by-products (fragments, spores, endotoxins, mycotoxins), are thought to be responsible for the health effects associated with being in a water-damaged building.
Around a quarter of the population have a genotype (haplotype) that does not enable them to produce antibodies to fungi, so what happens every time they walk into a mouldy building? It sets up an inflammatory response that doesn’t switch off.
In contrast, the rest of the population (25%) DO produce antibodies that enable them to recognize and clear these anti-germs from the body automatically.
An inflammatory reaction may cause key neuro-properties in the brain such as: Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, melanocyte-stimulating hormone and in some cases; antidiuretic hormone, to create illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome. 25% of people produce an antibody that can prevent this; that’s why some people get sick while others remain healthy.
Common Health Problems:
Overly Sleepy? Mould can cause fatigue that upsets the entire ‘circadian’ rhythm. You might fall asleep at your desk, or be tossing and turning at night.
Common Coughs? You might become prone to cold and flu and suffer on a recurring basis. It’s likely you’ll have a range of symptoms that are potentially treated as common infections, hayfever or pneumonia.
Super Tired Syndrom? This is the chronic fatigue that causes more than just sleepiness, but headaches, sleep disturbances, brain fog and poor short-term memory.
Unusual Body aches and pains (Fibromyalgia) with an inability to thermo-regulate; being too hot or cold.
Excessive urination and/or thirst that isn’t a result of ‘diabetes’.
The ability to become easily shocked when touching electrical appliances. This is caused by changes in osmolality due to issues with the antidiuretic hormone.
Symptoms often improve when they are away from the building.
What the Experts Say:
“We can get very irritable; people either get depressed or aggressive, so their behaviour changes,” mycologist Dr Keiki Neumeister Hemp said.
“It can be irritable bowel syndrome, it can be fatigue and all kinds of headaches.”
“In a nutshell, it’s a type of fungi that should be avoided because there is a possibility that they cause severe health effects.”
It is very expensive to get rid of mould once it starts to happen, and so too is an investment in prevention that’s not tried or proven enough.
Curing the air and airways of mould altogether is a key design feature of a Passive House. It ensures that the building and its inhabitants live a long and healthy life together.
We thank the sources who provided information to create this work. Please request, if you would like to receive any of more of their citings.
Poor indoor air quality can result in significant adverse impacts on our health and environment. Moreover, these impacts carry a significant cost burden on the economy. The CSIRO estimates that poor indoor air quality in Australia may cost as high as $12 billion per year.
So, what to do about it?
We spend most of our time indoors during that time, people cook, clean, chat, read, play, watch TV and do other things. People also bathe and sleep. And throughout it all, they breathe. New studies find that our activities can pollute the air we breathe indoors. And some of those compounds may harm our health.
Bike racks and solar panels are two of the urban development ‘sustainability’ features that are “trending,” however, a few solar panels and a stylish bicycle are hardly the makings of an eco-friendly home. How is it possible to remove toxins from the air without eco-friendly technology?
There are 2 big things to know when it comes to indoor air pollution:
The pollutants within the air in our building have been linked to all kinds of illnesses and;
Due to the lack of sealing in modern buildings, the concentrations of external toxins/allergens are getting higher.
That’s why we need to improve our building standards.
Controlled ventilation offers the distribution of clear fresh air across every area of indoor living space. Air pollutants are monitored and exhausted from the main rooms, and a balanced recovery ventilation system removes pollutants from the wet rooms (bathrooms, kitchen and Laundry areas).
The airflow is supported to achieve the perfect balance between dryness and moisture that flows throughout corridors and the corner of each room; keeping the property at an ideal temperature and volume of air.
Common indoor air pollutants are created by chemicals, allergens, excess moisture and VOC’s. Here’s why you should be mindful:
Allergens have been a leading cause of health conditions such as asthma, eczema, hay-fever and food allergies, with steadily increasing numbers over the past few years in Western Countries.
Environmental factors such as mode of birth, diet and others can play a role too. Sources of Allergens in the home include:
House dust mites
Studies have shown significant differences between when there is dust inhaled with pesticides and those who have similar ancestry and lifestyles. This is particularly of relevance for children, who have been proven to inhale more than adults.
Please don’t ignore this, as populations increase, polluted environment/dust/pollen’s will affect you and your family health. With high performance homes based on building science, this problem can be easily solved.
Volatile Organic Compounds
VOC’s are an invisible range of air-polluting substances that evaporate and continue to be inhaled
There are several different types including:
Building materials and furniture (carpet and furniture)
Gas and fuel from the garage
These all include the eye, nose and throat irritating chemical known as ‘formaldehyde,’ which can also be so strong it results in asthma or damage to the linings of the nose and throat.
VOC’s are often at concentrations that are too low to be sensed which means they often go undetected. Cooking and cleaning are two of the most common causes of this within the household air compounds.
Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices such as using polluting stoves with solid fuels and kerosene. Many people suffer ongoing as a result of their stoves due to odors and toxic fumes.
VOC’s CO2 & NO
Over 3 billion people contribute to toxic cooking processes each year, and many of them suffer from premature illnesses that could be avoided with fresh clear air.
Whilst emissions of many harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide have fallen by 80% since the 1970’s- There are still a great deal more to be discovered.
But where do these VOC’s exist?
NO2 otherwise known as ‘laughing gas’ and its close relative CO2 is hardly anything to joke about. They are the most common VOC’s and generally happen when fuel does not fully burn. Other causes include when wood or natural gas are burned, or if these VOC’s are released as a result of leaks.
You will likely find the most guilty VOC culprits to be domestic gas heaters, cooking stoves and wood, polish finishes, silicones etc VOC’s create headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, chest pain and can cause a ‘flu-like’ disease.
The VOC fumes become even higher concentrated within enclosed spaces. Once inhaled, the fumes can displace oxygen within the blood and deprive the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen.
Once you’ve finished having a shower, you know to leave on the fan or open a window in order to ventilate- But even when doing this, the health of a building occupant and the building itself are being negatively affected.
The most common moisture problems arise when warm moist air encounters a cool surface such as a mirror, window, or the wall of cooler space. Condensation is then left on the surface and over time can cause mold, mildew and dust mites.
It’s often easier to spot this form of air pollution. The effects of moisture can cause asthma, allergies, destroy wood products, and accelerate the rusting of metal building components.
High indoor humidity can also facilitate “off-gassing” of toxins in furniture or cleaning products.
Indoor air pollution quite frankly might maybe a slow-kille
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
If you are planning to build, with all this knowledge would you use ordinary building standards that are proven faulty and don’t have your health at heart?
The Passive Home (high performance) building standard is the solution to the evergrowing air concerns, it’s no wonder passive homes are quickly being adopted, and become the fastest-growing building standards across the world.
In November 2014, a government-funded report found that Australian buildings were suffering from poor energy efficiency compliance within the National Construction Code.
“The net result is a pervasive culture of mediocre energy performance across the Australian building industry.”
How do you choose to make yourself feel ‘at home’? Is it a fluffy warm blanket to rug-up in-front of the tv? A toasty warm fireplace to warm your toes? A tub of yoghurt or a piece of toast? You don’t have to get a taste for comfort for it to be a top priority. Whether we consciously realize or not – thermal, acoustic and visual comfort is a constant influence on our wellbeing.
Comfort isn’t just something we aim to do when we’re practising Dutch ‘Hygge’ or any other habitual things. Nurturing the 5 senses is something we unconsciously seek to do across summer, autumn, winter and spring. And across each of these four seasons, within a Passive House, the standards of comfort are higher than some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
When it comes to nurturing the 5 senses, a Passive House grants a high level of environmental integrity that leads to 6-star quality comfort all year round.
The lamp, the sunlight, the noise, the silence; Here is how each of these elements interact to accommodate your wellbeing as apart of Passive House design standards..
Have you ever looked at a balmy tropical island on your desktop screen? You’ll know how even just watching the weather can make us want to jump in a pool or pull on a sweater. That’s why buildings are created to guard against temperatures outside – achieving a level of comfort is a big influence on our wellbeing.
What if an ideal state of interior temperature became second nature? When it comes to a Passive House, a state of interior thermal comfort is just that.
No matter the weather, the temperature level fluctuates very little all year round. The building is carefully insulated and heated/cooled very little to an optimized temperature that’s designed to give you a feeling of thermal balance 24/7, with ideal humidity levels.
In nature, we never want to reach hypothermia or extreme heat. So, to ensure that ideal body temperature is effortless, the trick is to achieve what’s called a ‘thermal balance.’
Naturally, thermal balance is achieved in a Passive House with the management of air temperature, humidity and air movements that are all automatically monitored within a proper balance of each-other.
Here are some of the benefits:
No cold surfaces
Summer and winter comfort- minimal heating and cooling required.
Humidity? Perhaps the most important element to keep the temperature under control. Excessive humidity makes people feel warmer and the air feels “stuffy”.
Controlling the humidity within the 40% to 60% range is attainable without much effort within a passive home.
When you hear the swarm of oncoming traffic or the crescendo of an approaching engine, it can become a stressful experience on your mental and physical health over a long period of time.
Loud or ongoing external noises are an intrusion on peoples thoughts – A form of noise pollution that makes people forget what they are saying and doing, disrupting your indoor peace.
Aside from direct damage to hearing, unwanted noise can be detrimental to our health in other ways.
Additional consequences of noise exposure include: cardiovascular disease, hormonal changes, psychosomatic illnesses, sleep disorders, decreased physical and mental performance, stress reactions and more….
A state of long-term interior wellbeing is dependent on acoustic comfort.
Due to Insulation levels and a good thermal envelope, exterior noise levels are automatically reduced. The ability to disconnect and protect from exterior noises contributes to your ongoing health and wellbeing.
You have probably stared at the sun, or tried reading in an environment that’s too dark – Light is most certainly one of the key contributors to comfort. Aside from optimum productivity – Visual appearance of your home will play a roll in comfort too.
How you react to the quantity and quality of light within your home determines your visual comfort. Too much or too little creates stress or fatigue because the eye is constantly adapting.
Visual comfort is linked to health recovery when sick and has been associated with better overall performance and wellbeing.
When it comes to Passive House, assessing a visual environment requires the analysis of three main factors:
The sources of light (artificial/ natural), the distribution of light within the space (colour & intensity) and its perception.
These factors are assessed to achieve standards in terms of aesthetic quality, lighting, ambience and view.
When it comes to a Passive House, designs are formulated around natural daylight with consideration of geography and optimal house positioning.
This includes achieving the ideal state of:
Views of outside space
Connection to nature
Absence of glare
The less artificial lighting used, the higher the energy savings. Light changes constantly and varies in intensity, which is why sun shades are pivotal to achieving a High Performance home. Window orientation and shading are also essential and with the aid of solar passive design, you will receive the best of both worlds.
This is the main reason why it is important to design specifically to the land orientation and avoid ‘cookie-cutter’, off the shelf plans!
If you really want to feel comfortable in your home and tend to your soul without costing the earth, you can relax like never before with thermal, visual and acoustic comfort.
IN 2020, ACHIEVING OPTIMAL LEVEL OF COMFORT IS INCREASINGLY POSSIBLE AND AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW.
Passive Houses are also a part of a global collaboration that is driven by a collective mission for climate change and healthy living.
Want to be a part of the change? Find out that this is not rocket science and very achievable regardless of your project type.
An inspiration that achieves the modern living standards we all aspire to, whilst keeping the cost of energy bills down, it’s a combination of style and sustainability that place ‘Passive House Standards’, within a league of their own. It’s undeniably impressive making a minimal impact on the environment can be so affordable.
On top of that, Passive Homes are eco-friendly without design limitations. Concerns about health and the environment are balanced with modern and timeless visual appeal.
The building fabrics are of the highest quality known to mankind due to collaboration between architects, building scientists, engineers, designers and building specialists who have each discovered a unique way to reduce co2 emissions without compromising on style.
The sky is the limit when it comes to Passive House. Whether it’s a 2 bedroom ‘Tiny House’ or a colonial beachfront; the home will remain at a stable temperature all year round. Between winter and summer; it will reduce your energy bills by up to 90% (we’re not exaggerating). You could literally build a mega apartment complex if you wanted.
You’ll also be closer to net-zero with your own solar panel battery.
It’s easy to understand why people would hand-pick Passive Homes amongst many different options in the market… By getting to know the current standards regulated by the government and those adhered to throughout the industry; you’ll soon discover there is a great deal of compromise on building quality.
Below are 8 reasons why Passive House is the #1 standard in the world
1. Proven, Tested and Measured
Passive Houses (passivhaus™) are the most globally recognised standard of eco-friendly living in the world. Now tested across more than 80,000 projects worldwide, and hundreds of different climates, Passive House standards can accommodate many different building types.
When it comes to a proven and tested method of reducing energy costs; no buildings uphold the same level of credibility and trust. A number of governments and regulators are already considering or even implementing them as the national building code.
Passive House Standards are paving the way for sustainable building standards. They are confidently chosen as the world-leading standard for large-scale eco-friendly projects in residential, commercial, community and government nature.
The globe has seen many success stories, with thousands of new developments. The largest Passive House residential development is currently being built in Gaobeidian, China. “Bolueta,” in the Spanish city of Bilbao is the world’s tallest Passive building… Across the border, the world’s first certified Passive Hospital is currently under construction in Frankfurt.
With 28 years of development and improvement, a passive home is becoming more affordable by the minute.
There is a global upswing to produce healthier, sustainable and more energy-efficient buildings. In Brussels, ‘Passive Standards’ have already been implemented into their national building code. Every kind-of property; new or retrofit, private or commercial is to become ‘PassivHaus’ in a wave to tackle climate change.
2. Passive House is optimised for all Climates
Passive Houses are built to withstand the coldest winters and the hottest summers and are optimised to offer the most thermally comfortable indoor environment imaginable. Wood or masonry, double or triple-glazed windows, humid, hot or dry; There are no design or building limitations within different climate zones.
Return on investment for a Passive House starts as soon as people move in, but that’s not just financially… How could you even measure your health? Priceless, right? What’s more, is that any extra costs incurred to achieve the PH Standard are immediately offset with positive lifestyle changes. Health, high- quality comfort and near-zero energy bills are all part of the ‘passive home suite’.
Reducing your energy bill is done with building materials that cohesively work with the environment to create an eco-friendly living environment that is appealing from the present and into the future.
3. Worldwide collaboration reduces the building cost
The no.1 reason why people do not consider building an eco-home is the extra upfront cost. The overwhelming anxiety is – just how much of a premium exists?
With the ability to share ideas and implement new cost-effective techniques – Experts across the world have progressively reduced the cost of building a Passive Home… How?
It’s all to do with economies of scale. When the first Passive Houses were built over 28 years ago; there was hardly any demand and architects, builders and consultants were still learning.
But now? With global Adoption? Climate change solutions are affordable. Experts have tackled some of the worlds biggest health and building issues with eco-friendly innovations.
Tried and tested techniques are now placing the pressure on manufacturers and governments to update their building regulations. And as science continues to solve these problems, building costs will keep on decreasing.
4. Passive Standard is a precise and reliable outcome
Time-tested methods that optimise the components of a Passive House are planned with a Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), a software that’s used to plan and gain certification throughout the building process.
The PHPP energy model clearly integrates each of the Building components and systems while creating the most energy-efficient framework. Over time, this highly precise model has become so fierce that it can repeatedly (and consistently) reduce heating and cooling demands comparatively to ordinary construction systems.
The Passive House Standard is tested onsite. This ensures that you are actually getting what you pay for and that your certification is based on true-to-life expert approval.
5. Passive House will generate a lifetime of energy savings
What happens to the energy that you don’t use in a regular house? Most of it is stored within a panel or grid. The grid itself becomes an ongoing maintenance liability.
But that’s just for regular houses. A Passive House will not only reduce the costs of storing and consuming energy today, but lock-in energy savings for the future.
Perhaps not the news energy providers want us to know, but the world and your health is your priority.
Being power efficient is a no.1 priority for 3 reasons; the environment, the cost and the market value of the property. Approximately 35% of energy in Australia is used on heating and cooling, and of that amount, 8% of national emissions are caused directly by heating and cooling usage alone.
Rather than relying on electricity, Passive Houses also achieve a very stable temperature through the design and building fabric. This cuts the cost of installation, maintenance and energy use. The control of thermal temperature through other means greatly reduces the cost and provides long term affordability.
Case studies have proven that the same cost efficiency can be achieved with different materials across different temperatures. People in Norfolk have found that an initial 5% cost premium on their property has incurred a 90% saving on their monthly energy bills, significantly saving them long term.
In Australia? We actually benefit more because our temperature doesn’t vary as much. It’s even easier to achieve Passive House standards and can be more affordable than you think…
6. World class comfort and health
Across locations outdoors and indoors, the city and the country, from pesticides to VOC’s; you can be sure that air pollution exists.
Although, within a Passive House, you are guaranteed fresh breathing air with quiet, low volume ventilation that’s draught free.
To achieve superior air quality, a combination of air-tightness, continuous insulation, high-performing windows, minimal thermal bridging and continuous fresh-filtered air all contribute to keeping flowing air healthy and safe.
Imagine less dust, less allergens, less odors, a stable temperature, a reduction in noise and humidity… This is what to expect from a Passive House.
Health benefits are even greater, experts claim occupants include:
Better Sleeping Patterns
Less Allergies of all types
You can still open and shut windows whenever you want, although unlike regular homes, this is not required to maintain healthy air quality.
7. Solar Power during storms and severe weather
Most homes are light-grade at best, and based on a climate that no longer exists; Passive Houses are built to withstand extreme heat, cold and climate change in a number of ways.
It’s a standard being tested in Mongolia – where people are experiencing 40° degree summers and -40° degree winters.
In Qatar’s extreme heat conditions, research was conducted on properties built comparing their local building standards with PassivHaus, unsurprisingly passive design outperformed Qatar’s conventional standard.
Norway, the Svart Hotel built with PassiivHaus principles in the base of a glacier (extremely cold) will be “energy positive”, meaning entirely sustainable – producing more energy than it uses. The hotel will use 85% less energy than traditional buildings.
You can maintain a pleasant temperature all year round, even during the middle of a black-out.
Solar has a remarkable ability to survive during extreme weather conditions and hosts highly viable power grids that will protect its source of energy, keeping electricity running throughout your home.
8. Supporting the growth of local manufacturers and eco-friendly suppliers
With the popularity of eco-friendly living on the rise, an increasing number of manufacturers and builders are recognising Passive House as a growing market and quickly developing the best possible solutions to cater to local markets.
The Australian Industry is predicted to grow significantly in coming years, particularly since the announcement of a new skyscraper in Melbourne designed by the winner of the Beaulah International Design Competition.
This winning design will become a two billion dollar tower for “mixed-use”, called the Green Spine, that is set to become the tallest building in Melbourne at an impressive 856 metres tall.
It uses Passivehaus principles to make a green-statement against a high-consumption cement jungle backdrop.
Do you share a vision to achieve up to 90% less in energy costs, be thermally comfortable all year round, and live your best life?