Does Passive House Design Work In Extreme Heat?

September 11, 2014

Passive House in Qatar

A home in Barwar City, Qatar is set to be the guinea pig to answer whether Passive House design will work in the desert.  Passive House (or Passivhaus in German) design relies on the mass of a building and super insulation to naturally heat and cool a building, limiting the need for heat and air conditioning.  It has proven successful in cold climates, but has not yet been tested at the other extreme.

The experiment involves two similar sized houses built right next to each other.  A family of four will live in each one for six months.  The first is designed to Passive House design criteria with a few additional amenities: airtight construction, high-efficiency air conditioning, small windows and skylights made of high performance glass (to control solar heat gain but allow daylighting), solar panels to generate renewable power, and bioreactor tanks that treat and recycle water.

The house next door will be built to local green building standards (Global Sustainability Assessment System).  Experts predict this house will use 50% more energy and water and create 50% more carbon dioxide emissions.

 

Putting Passive House to the Test


Passive House in Qatar kitchen

After six months of living in the homes, both families will be given training on living an eco-friendly life, and then will be observed for another six months.  This part of the study is meant to measure the effect of education and training on energy and water use and emissions.

Dr. Alex Amato, head of sustainability at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), said the live-in experiment was chosen to produce more true-to-life findings than using a computer-simulated test.  “If we can achieve success, the next step will be to see how we can reward people for their behavior, and to expand the program for existing houses and new neighborhoods,” he said in a statement on the Qatar Foundation website.

The families will be moving into the houses this autumn.

Source and Photos: Green Prophet


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Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.  
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