My daughters ringette team is looking for sponsors for the upcoming season. So I decided to be a sponsor and get my logo on their shirts, that they will be wearing from now on until March. Hopefully that will get me some additional attention. But what logo?? I spend a day with Illustrator and came up with one.
I got some input from my friend who is coordinating the fundraising and is not an architect or designer. Which is probably a good thing. She was wondering if I could add an explanation of Passive House to the logo in 3-5 words. Because there are a lot of people that don’t know what that means. HA! Not that easy. I asked if I could get half the shirt to explain that a Passive House is a super-insulated building, very airtight, you can basically heat it with the equivalent of your toaster, it has triple glazed windows, it doesn’t need an air-conditioner, it is quiet, it provides comfortable living throughout the entire year, it has superior air quality, especially beneficial for people with allergies, it is affordable, it is the most rigorous green building standard in the world, it can be applied for renovations….well by now I might have covered the entire t-shirt… And even for the sake of saving the planet – every sponsor gets the same amount of space.
While trying to come up with a three word definition for Passive House, one quality of this building standard came up most: COMFORT. And this might get your attention even more than energy efficiency: A Passive House is really comfortable to live in.
I will quote British architect Elrond Burrell and his post Passivhaus; Comfort, Comfort, Comfort, Energy Efficiency on his excellent blog to try to explain this.
“….energy efficiency is actually only part of passivhaus. People don’t often realize that the Passivhaus Standard is also a rigorous comfort standard that ensures a building is free from drafts, free from cold spots, free from excessive over heating and provided with a constant supply of fresh clean air. And it does so with the minimum amount of energy.”
The standard for airtightness (0.6 air changes per hour) makes the house completely draft-free. Since the windows are so good, designed to have interior surfaces that are within 3°C of interior temperature, there are no cold drafts off the glass like there are in most conventional houses. (That’s why typically in your house duct vents are placed under windows, to counteract this). It also means there are no cold spots.
“Windows that are much colder than the room temperature are also uncomfortable because we experience them as cold spots. The glass acts like a radiator in reverse, drawing warmth away from our body. And the reverse is true in summer; the glass acts like a radiator adding unwanted heat into the room. The effect of this is a band of discomfort around the perimeter of a room where convection currents and cold spots make the space too uncomfortable to enjoy and make use of.”
Of course in such an airtight building you need to provide fresh air.
“The Passivhaus standard requires that the ventilation system provide 30m3 of fresh air, every hour, for every person in the building. This can be provided all year round by a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery so there are no uncomfortable cold draughts from the ventilation. Alternatively it can be provided by ’natural ventilation’ in summer and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery for the rest of the year.”
This is one of the reasons I really like Passive House. Everyone can design a net-zero building by adding enough solar panels on the roof or adding an expensive geo-thermal system. But the house might still be drafty, have cold spots in the winter and overheat in the summer due to too many south facing windows.
Or imagine you renovate your house and add a nice new extension for a family room in the back. I came to the house of a friend of mine for the first time, they live in a very nice neighbourhood in Ottawa, they renovated their house, upgraded the kitchen and did an addition in the back. I really liked it, I walked around, looked at every thing (like architects do) and commented on the great new family room with a window seat overlooking the backyard. She said: “Yes, it is great, but we can’t really use it in the winter, it is too cold next to the window.” Well that is terrible! And really shouldn’t happen. If people ask me how expensive it is to build a Passive House, I like to bring up this example, because that really is expensive to build a space that is not comfortable to live in year round.
And if you happen to see a ringette team with my logo at an arena around Ontario, why don’t you ask the girls if they know what a Passive House is? And if you are willing to sponsor the team let me know, there is still room on the shirts as I didn’t add any explanation to my logo.