Statistics show that around 40% of the energy we use is consumed in houses. Therefore, it is crucial that we make changes at home. Energy-efficiency is exactly what passive houses are all about. The concept originates from Danish experiments on how to build sustainable homes. Later, knowledge within this field increased rapidly in Germany and Austria and today a passive house is defined as a building construction in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems. The house heats and cools itself – hence the term 'passive'.
Low-energy and passive house concepts are visions of the future. The low heat consumption in these homes is achieved by e.g. extra insulation, highly efficient windows, ventilation with efficient heat recovery, utilisation of passive solar heat, rain water harvesting systems, green roof design and waste recycling. This means that the layout of the houses has to be carefully thought through. In Ramboll we have designed low-energy and passive houses in Greenland, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom and Denmark.
Sustainable one-family homes
In Skibet, Denmark, Ramboll is part of the design and construction process of the KOMFORT houses. These are an example of how one-family homes can become sustainable by ensuring minimal energy consumption without having to sacrifice architectural details or comfort. The aim is to unify Danish architecture with good indoor climate and low energy consumption.
Award-winning housing development
In Upton, Britain, we provided structural engineering, building services engineering and sustainability services on an award-winning scheme for a new housing development where high architectural standards are combined with a strong sustainability agenda. The project comprises 165 residences, which is a mix of houses and flats. Here, features such as solar panels, solar hot water, green roofs and facilities that reduce utilisation of energy and water ensure low energy consumption.
Low energy housing in an extreme climate
We have also provided full consultancy on an energy efficient house in Sisimiut, Greenland, just 50 km north of the Arctic Circle. The aim was to build a house that would consume half as much energy as prescribed by the building code. Due to the extreme climatic conditions with winter temperatures as low as -35˚C, areas with permafrost, strong winds and very few solar hours during winter it was a particular challenge to reduce the heat consumption in the house. The results collected from this house will be used during a renovation of existing housing in Greenland, as well as future construction projects.