14/07/2014 | Gary Hartley | Energy and water efficiency at home, Products and technology | Active House, Activhaus, allowable solutions, energy efficiency, future homes, generating energy, green building, Passivhaus, zero carbon homes, zero carbon target 2016
Innovation is all about staying ahead of the game - and, just as the idea of the Passivhaus is starting to come to mainstream attention, so begins the buzz about the next wave of energy efficient building - the Active House.
It’s about producing more energy on-site; more energy, in fact, than its inhabitants can use. The idea is that all energy available in the building is from a renewable source, and so much energy is generated and captured by the design of the building that it can give back its surplus. Required to achieve this is not only energy sources like solar PV, but special attention to orientation, shading and ventilation, with state of the art controls at the heart.
As with the Passivhaus concept, its beginnings are in Germany, and perhaps the most ambitious application to date is what is to be the country’s tallest residential building in Frankfurt, which is set to be constructed to the stringent standards required. Additional features of note in the development include the use of radiant surfaces in rooms for maximum comfort, district heating, and absorption refrigeration, which uses waste heat to drive the cooling system.
For England, 2016 is the next key date for green buildings - the target for all new homes to be zero carbon. The zero carbon standard is long way from 'active house', but it still represents a major step forward in building standards in this county.
Under the zero carbon standard a three-step process will be in place to guide the design and construction of new homes: Firstly, the building fabric must meet specific standards for energy efficiency with high levels of insulation and air tightness required. After that, it's a matter of selecting the right renewable energy systems (solar panels, heat pumps etc), heating, lighting, ventilation to meet challenging on-site carbon emissions standards.