The Passivhaus Handbook

The Passivhaus Handbook : A Practical Guide to Constructing and Retrofitting Buildings for Ultra-Low Energy Performance

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'As we move towards the 2016 zero carbon target in house building, Passivhaus construction looks like becoming not just popular in the UK, but commonplace. This is a no-nonsense and engaging introduction on how to do it.' Kevin McCloud

The Passivhaus Handbook is an essential guide for anyone wanting to realise a supremely comfortable, healthy and durable home with exceptionally low energy costs. Passivhaus design focuses on getting the building fabric right, to achieve ultra-low energy consumption in the most cost-effective manner. The approach is relevant to a wide range of building types and climates.

Passivhaus methodology can be combined with elements of other building standards, such as the UK's Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), or with other sustainable building goals, such as a commitment to using low-impact or natural building materials.

Whether you are building an extension, retrofitting your house or starting from scratch, and whether you are new to low-energy design or already have some experience, this book will help you navigate around the potential pitfalls and misconceptions. It brings together current thinking and best practice.

The book includes:

A clear explanation of the underlying building physics and terminology.

Detailed information on key elements of Passivhaus: avoiding air leakage, designing out thermal (cold) bridges, moisture management and ventilation strategy.
Practical advice on setting up a project, including developing a motivated project team.
A discussion of economic considerations and the policy context in the UK.

As pressure on global resources increases and energy prices continue to rise, the Passivhaus approach, proven over 20 years, meets the challenge of ultra-low-energy building for the future.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 205 x 255 x 18.8mm | 916.26g
  • Totnes, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0857840193
  • 9780857840196
  • 61,261

Table of contents

Foreword by Wolfgang Feist


How to use this book

Part One: The how and why of Passivhaus

Chapter 1: What is a Passivhaus?

The Passivhaus energy standard, the Passivhaus concept, common misconceptions, retrofitting and the EnerPHit energy standard

Chapter 2: The economics of a Passivhaus

Economic culture, energy costs and supplies, factors affecting property prices, factors affecting Passivhaus costs, methods of determining cost-effectiveness

Chapter 3: Passivhaus Certification

Certification of buildings, building components, designers and contractors; the process and information required for building certification

Chapter 4: Challenges of meeting the Passivhaus standard

UK building culture, education and employment in construction, professional expertise, risk-aversity, the planning system, vernacular styles, the team approach, the disadvantages of a Passivhaus, Passivhaus and other low-energy standards

Chapter 5: Natural materials, zero carbon and resilience

Natural and low-embodied-energy building materials, zero carbon and the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), on-site low- or zero-carbon energy, post-peak energy, energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)

Chapter 6: Setting up a Passivhaus project

Choosing a plot, planning considerations, retrofit considerations, phased retrofitting and extensions, selecting an architect and builder, the role of the client

Part Two: Passivhaus projects: a practical guide

Chapter 7: Using the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP)

History of the PHPP, PHPP worksheets: Verification, U-Values, Ground, WinType, Windows, Shading, Ventilation, Annual Heating Demand, Summer, Shading-S, DHW + Distribution, SolarDHW, Climate

Chapter 8: Thermal bridges

Constructional and geometrical thermal bridges, linear and point thermal bridges, thermal bypass, internal and external psi-values, dealing with thermal bridges, thermal bridge calculation

Chapter 9: Airtightness and sequencing

Air leakage and Passivhaus, internal air quality (IAQ), airtightness standards, wind-tightness, breathable materials, airtight materials, air leakage at the design stage and construction stage, sequencing, on-site communication and training, airtightness testing, typical airtight construction details

Chapter 10: Moisture

Liquid moisture and water vapour, relative humidity (RH) and indoor air quality (IAQ), capillarity, hygroscopicity, vapour permeability, moisture management in construction, breathability, example constructions (new build and retrofit)

Chapter 11: Windows

High-performance windows, U-values (frame, pane, spacer and installation factors), solar gain, window installation, window sills, doors, roof lights, avoiding summer overheating, the construction phase, future developments and costs

Chapter 12: Ventilation

Ventilation in UK housing and in Passivhaus, indoor air quality (IAQ), humidity, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) (components, heating, efficiency, noise levels, possible objections to MVHR, installation skills)

Chapter 13: Living in a Passivhaus

Noise, energy bills, kitchen and bathrooom, drying clothes, the MVHR, entering and leaving the house, case studies (Totnes Passivhaus, Denby Dale, Grove Cottage, Passivhaus apartment buildings)

Chapter 14: Policy change in the UK

Planning, a building-fabric-based energy standard, floor measurement conventions, VAT, Energy Performance Certificates, property tax, change in the construction sector, self-build, home-grown Passivhaus products, culture and policy-making

Appendix A: Space heating and hot water

Appendix B: Thermal conductivity values

Appendix C: US units - metric conversions

Appendix D: Certified Passivhaus projects in the UK

Glossary of terms

Glossary of units



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Review quote

As we move towards the 2016 zero carbon target in house building, Passivhaus construction looks like becoming not just popular in the UK, but commonplace. This is a no-nonsense and engaging introduction on how to do it. -- Kevin McCloud This excellent book acts both as an introduction to the details of the Passivhaus methodology and how it works in practice. Anyone who has clients who have expressed interest in a Passivhaus project would be well advised to suggest they get a copy of the book, as it is extremely well written and accessible... It's a very good introduction to the subject, introducing all the key issues in plain English and giving examples of real solutions...The challenge set by the book is to increase the number of Passivhaus buildings in order to reduce emissions and increase the quality of construction... The first-hand experience of the authors provides an excellent grounding for this highly recommended book. -- Dave Palmer FBEng RIBA * Building Engineer * This book gives a wonderful overview of Passivhaus in the UK today, not only enabling interested parties to understand the principles and pitfalls for their own projects, but also for policy makers and planning officers to understand how to avoid some of their 'own goals' in attempting to encourage conservation. -- Peter Warm, Passivhaus Consultant, Trainer and Certifier The Passivhaus Handbook really is the 'bible' for developing passivhaus housing, particularly if you are thinking of a self-build passivhaus.

Read the full review at Passivhaus in Plain English. -- Elrond Burrell * Passivhaus in Plain English * I'm delighted to see everything about Passivhaus and its application in the UK collated for the first tiime, in The Passivhaus Handbook. The first-hand experience of the authors provides an excellent grounding for the book. -- Jon Bootland, Chief Executive, Passivhaus Trust
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About Janet Cotterell

Janet has wide experience of working in sensitive settings (conservation areas, listed buildings, historic parks, so is familiar with the use of traditional and natural materials. Her focus is on the importance of sustainable building practice and low-energy design principles. She is a chartered architect and a Certified Passivhaus Designer and holds an MSc in Architecture: Advanced Environmental & Energy Studies. Adam is interested in different approaches to 'sustainability' and 'resilience' as they affect building practice.He is a Certified Passivhaus Consultant and member of the AECB (the Sustainable Building Association) and holds a postgraduate diploma in Architecture: Advanced Environmental & Energy Studies from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT).
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