Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept: adapting the standard beyond the climate
What is the Passivhaus standard?
The Passivhaus standard recognizes those buildings that manage to reduce their energy needs between 75% and 90%, being the most demanding certification that currently exists.
Thanks to the implementation of the principles contained in it, the buildings manage to reduce their heating and cooling requirements to the minimum expression. The result is homes or buildings capable of supplying their low additional energy demand through renewable sources, which means significant savings for both the owners and the planet.
There are no specific materials, forms or products to define Passivhaus, but it is about using resources in the best possible way to implement passive techniques. How is this achieved? By making the most of the environment’s resources to reduce our need to resort to facilities: orientation, building shape, materials…
Origins of Passivhaus: German with American touches
The Passivhaus standard originated in Germany in the 1980s. There, a conversation between Professor Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist triggered the successive studies on the project. However, both the idea of the project and its name are of American origin.
The oil crisis in the United States during the 1970s prompted builders to look for a formula to make homes consume little or no energy. Later, it would be the physicist (also American) William Shurcliff, who coined the term passive to refer to this type of energy-efficient housing.
After years of research into the system in Germany, the first Passivhaus residences were built for private individuals in Darmstadt in 1990 (near Frankfurt). Since then, the construction of this type of housing has developed in countless countries around the world.
Basic principles of Passivhaus
As we have mentioned, the Passivhaus concept is based on a series of principles that are implemented in search of the perfect passive house. But what are these principles that maximize energy savings?
- Excellent thermal insulation. Avoiding energy loss at all costs is the main objective.
- High-performance doors and windows. Double and triple glazing for windows, glass that maximizes solar gains, avoidance of gaps…
- Absence of thermal bridges (areas of unwanted energy loss and gain, such as corners). This is achieved by placing the thermal insulation in a continuous way.
- Tightness of the envelope. In passive buildings the interior must become a bubble.
- Mechanical ventilation that allows the recovery of the cold or heat by means of the renewed air. This means a very important reduction of air conditioning resources.
Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept: Adapting the standard to the Mediterranean
Although the Passivhaus concept was born to meet the needs of cold countries such as Germany or Sweden, some pioneers have been able to see the potential of the standard and take it further.
This is the case of Dyov Studio which invites us to think of their Mediterranean Passive House Concept (Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept), as a living organism, “open and closed”, flexible, able to adapt to any climate, environment or aesthetics.
As they explain: “We are convinced that this Passivhaus functional organism must adapt to the climatic, cultural and even emotional idiosyncrasies and customs of each place where it is finally located. That is why for some years we have been trying to rationalize and merge this “German” Passivhaus concept with the soul, life, customs and culture of the Mediterranean. For this, it is also essential that the materials chosen, their arrangement on site and their suitability make possible this blending between the Idea, the means and the final Objective”.
Thus was born the Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept, the result of merging the original “closed” German concept, with the soul, life, customs, the most open Mediterranean culture and with certain intrinsic values of the Spanish Popular Architecture.
The Mediterranean Passive Houses are the result of adapting this closed model, designed to respond to a specific climate, not only to the meteorological conditions but also to the intrinsic conditions of the Mediterranean. But not everything can be extrapolated since it is not enough to adapt the “Passivhaus machine” to the latitude and longitude. In the Mediterranean, most of the time the indoor-outdoor relationship is very permeable.
Therefore, the Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept adapts the standard to the lifestyle, housing typology and needs of the area where the projects are executed. Its development in the Mediterranean implies knowing how to work with local materials, preserving the essence of the Mediterranean housing style and knowing how to understand the importance of the relationship between the interior and exterior of the house.
Thus the Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept is designed to create buildings that function as perfect machines inside, but integrating the exterior both in habitability and in the application of the standard. Factors such as the orientation of the house, treatment of the building envelope, natural ventilation inside or the hours of sunlight, etc., will therefore be decisive. But it will also be the fact that the Mediterranean lifestyle cannot be understood without having outdoor spaces to enjoy. That is one of its hallmarks.
The Mediterranean, despite being far from the original Passivhaus proposal, is undoubtedly an ideal place to implement the standard because its special characteristics have the ability to define the model as an ultra-efficient and open proposal, which executed by the right professionals is able to integrate exceptionally well anywhere.
The future of the Mediterranean Passive Houses is bright and thanks to them also that of our environment. In short, this type of houses are an example of sustainable architecture, which is committed to a greener, more responsible and efficient future.
If you want more information about this type of construction, find out more about Mediterranean Passivhaus Concept here.