The Gruen Eco Design blog about how to convert your dream for an energy efficient home into a reality.



In November I spent 2 weeks doing some further professional development and did the PassivHaus/ Passive House Designer course.

Although a lot of the principles of Passive House weren’t new to me and were to some degree part of my education when I studies architecture in Germany, there were many aha moments and it got me thinking a lot.

 Even so much so that it got me rethinking the design and layout of our 20/20 House. And it got me very determined to build our own home as a passive house, using SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels).

 With my original design I was very set on having a concrete slab throughout the ground floor as thermal mass. Since there is 1m fall over the length of the house we had set it up as a split level. Due to internal steps needed we required extra circulation space. 

When building your house according to the Passive Haus guidelines, rather than solely following passive solar design principles, thermal mass is not that crucial anymore. Because of that we have decided to raise the entire ground floor onto one level. Having some steps in front of the house. This means part of the ground floor will be a suspended timber floor and the back of the house will be slab on ground. By doing this we were able to reduce the size of the home a bit. Every square meter counts. 

Also while working on the redesign we had another look at the services and where we can locate what. When building a passivehaus you need a mechanical ventilation system, a so called heat recovery unit. The actual unit itself should be located inside the house. And is about the size of a large washing machine. Just as a rough guide. So, you have to make sure you have made an allowance in a central spot where this can go.

Furthermore, a compact floor plan is ideal, with wet-areas close to each other.  Making sure you can have short runs for the ventilation system and water pipes.

It is also important to think about where the ducts and pipes will go. Do you have a service cavity somewhere where they can go up to the upper level? Can they run in the ceiling space, in the floor area etc. Think about where the outlets and extract air vents will be installed.

 After some tinkering with the floor plan my partner and I are much happier now and getting really excited. It is starting to look like our home 🙂
Now we can start with some finer details.

 Stay tuned.