Passive houses or eco homes are usually single family homes and are a trendy architectural solution to the problem of energy consumption. They are self-sustaining houses, which means that their energy consumption depends on natural sources. Make the most of natural resources and respect the environment both during construction and when built. The Sun is undoubtedly an essential element in the solar house, as it depends on the lighting and heating of the place.
In addition, appliances should be low-energy to not spend more energy than necessary. Water is also an important factor, as rainwater is collected and recycled as much as possible. This is the beginning of these homes, everything that can be saved and reused. With an abundant amount of sunlight available in India, the concept of passive houses are gaining popularity. Functional since a year, the Indira Paryavaran Bhavan in New Delhi is India’s first net zero energy building that has been constructed with adoption of solar passive design and energy-efficient building materials.
Energy saving: Own energy must be generated through passive solar house plans, for example through solar panels. However, the home must also be properly located to save energy in both heating and lighting.
Saving water: As we have discussed, water is an essential factor. Devices that economize the use of water and control it must be installed.
Materials: The chosen materials should be as natural and local as possible as their transport should have a low impact on the environment. In addition, avoid contaminating materials, such as plastic. These rules not only affect building materials but also decoration, painting, furniture and etc.
Ventilation: The windows should allow drafts of air to avoid using the air conditioning in hot days.
Insulation and heating: If home is not well insulated, heating expenses will increase, which will damage the environment and your pocket. The passive house should be warm in winter and cool in summer.
An eco bungalow in Bangalore can cost about INR 1,350 per square foot, including construction and fittings. Home owner Prasanto K Roy spent about INR 500,000 on India's first certified eco-house in Delhi.
An eco-friendly home also helps you get loans at cheaper rates. State Bank of India charges lower interest rates for the first three years for loans taken to purchase properties in green projects which reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy. You also get other incentives from the bank. With active support from the government and the private sector, green buildings will soon become the norm. Even today, corporate houses such as Infosys, Wipro and Tata have a policy to occupy only green buildings.
There are numerous advantages in living in this type of modern house. Aside from the fact that you are helping the environment by lessening you and your family’s carbon footprint, comfort and convenience are also achieved. Living in such a home means that the temperature will be the same throughout the year (slightly lower than usual, which is probably between 29 and 30 degrees celsius, depending on how good the planning of the project is), CO2 emissions are quite low and air humidity is also always controlled, ideal aspects to maintain the health and wellness of your entire family. At the same time, because of reduced energy consumption, you are also able to save a lot of money from your monthly bills.
The disadvantage of passive house is that the initial design and construction costs can be higher, compared to a traditional building. For instance, the outer wall thickness will vary depending on the site. The design is dependent on the location and weather conditions. Owners need to consider the utility savings against the cost of passive building materials. The cost recovery begins immediately once the green building is occupied. Like all new features in a building, there’s a learning curve for new owners.
- Occupants need to learn how to operate controls.
- A back-up heating system may be needed.
- Potential thermal bridging threats exist.
Thermal bridges can exist in the walls, floor, and the roof in all home designs. A thermal bridge occurs when the insulation layer is displaced, creating heat pockets. These pockets can cause uneven air distributions. The problems can be prevented when working with an expert in the design and detailing of the home.
Weather: If you need your passive house to be built in the shortest possible time, it is best to use materials that can be manufactured in a local workshop.
Price: We must think both the price of the raw material and the cost of labour. Also if we want brick we will need at least one expert operator who will need days to place each piece. However, if we choose concrete we will have to rely on transport from the cement factory or if we decide the wood can be assembled in a few hours, but it could be more expensive.
Availability: The decision to use of a specific material should depend on the location of the place itself. As we have said, the most important principle of these homes is to take advantage of the natural available resources. For example, in India, it is advisable to use wood as it is easily accessible.
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