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 draughts.
- No cold surfaces
- Quiet ventilation
- Summer and winter comfort- minimal heating and cooling required.
- Lower running costs
- Comfortable and healthy.
- Managed humidity and dryness
- Low Skin wetness
In a high performance home, you’ll need very little heating or cooling to control your space.
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
- Light quality
- 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.
For more context, you can see Australia’s housing contribution to cold-related deaths: Australian Contribution to Cold Related Deaths: