Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

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Space Cat
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Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by Space Cat » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:50 pm

I'm slowly preparing for the house construction, ended up being fascinated by the Passive House concept: you insulate everything to the max and make the house airtight, so no heating needed even during the Central European winters, let alone Southern Chilean ones. The heat comes from appliances, bodies of the occupants and big North-facing windows that are protected from the summer sun with some awning.

The question, of course, is how to do it right. Even in the guides written for the UK they say that builders aren't familiar with the construction process. I've found multiple certified consultants in the southern cities (including Valdivia) but no idea if they are trustworthy enough.

Any experiences, recommendations?

I'm also thinking about outsourcing the house design (including heating/ventilation calculations) to an experienced company in the UK or Germany. Is it a bad idea to bring blueprints from abroad?

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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:46 am

it is not that hard.

well, first southern chile is not alaska. don't over think it, and dont over spend trying to do it 1000%. there is a point at which there is diminishing returns.

standard construction, but with the insulation on the outside is the house is probably the secret to doing it right and cheap.

especially, when you consider the silly wasteful framing methods they use in chile (cross supports every half meter inside the walls). it adds nothing to strength (wood shrinks), and let's energy "ghost" through the 2x4s. in other words, thermal breaks between the structure and internal surfaces are the key.

so, from outside in, siding, possibly a half inch 'rain gap', tyvek, foam insulation (2 inches will do here, but 4 inches would not cost that much more), over osb, 2x4s, interior finish.

nail the hell out of the osb, every 6 inches on the edge, 12 inches in the center, nailing schedule. those are your earthquake shear walls. make sure they are tied to the foundation.

there is a bunch of sites that will talk about using a 2x6 studs, or even double stud walls, but that really buys you little, for the money in southern chile that rarely drops below zero.

the fundamentals of doing it this way, is that it is nearly impossible to fully seal a house from the inside. much easier, and far more efficient to insulate and seal from the outside in.

of course good thermal pain windows, with pvc frames.

if you are going to super insulate, like 6 inches of foam, spend it on your ceilings / roof.

my calculations are that doing just this, without going full passive house, is at least half the price but gets at least 80 to 90% of the benefit. really, you are not using any materials that a modern house in chile has, you are just using the materials more efficiently based on the best known building science out there.
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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:54 am

here, have a look at this thermal camera image of houses with traditional studs and bat insulation vs. houses insulated from the outside in.

http://www.siplockforever.com/Thermal%2 ... Energy.htm

it states up to 30% of energy is lost through ghosting or thermal bridging through studs, and that is basically all that passuvehouse designs are really doing; or, at least it is the major gain from the building technology / technique.
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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:02 am

keep in mind that 1.5 to 2 inches of foam board type insulation will have way more R value than 4 inches of bat insulation. think you need something like 12 inches of bat insulation to equal 1.5 inch of foam insulation. especially if every 16 inches there is a 2x4 thermal bridging the cold in to your house. it not only has less R value, it looses R value as time goes by, and is impossible to insulate the entire wall with it.
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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by Space Cat » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:41 pm

Thanks a lot, that will take some time for me to process. I have no experience in construction and still have to read a ton of theory but a couple of friends can hold my hand (one of them is an actual construction manager), so I hope there are no major failures ahead.

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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by Space Cat » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:53 pm

admin wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:46 am
especially, when you consider the silly wasteful framing methods they use in chile (cross supports every half meter inside the walls). it adds nothing to strength (wood shrinks), and let's energy "ghost" through the 2x4s. in other words, thermal breaks between the structure and internal surfaces are the key.
Is it simply an inertia of a tradition or something earthquake-related?

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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:43 pm

just tradition. probably tradition of using green, none dimmensioned wood.


vertical 2x4, with fully nailed osb, are way stronger walls.

the only justification i have ever seen for a cross support, is fireblocking. however none of those in chile would qualify or work as fire blocking because they are not sealed. air still moves through the wall.
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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by Britkid » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:45 pm

I found this company online
https://www.infiniski.cl/
They produce ecological, well insulated houses
It may be worth a read at least, to see if it's relevant to you.

I don't have any experience with this company, just what can be seen online.

If any one has every used them or heard anything about them, let us know.

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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by Space Cat » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:52 pm

Britkid wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:45 pm
It may be worth a read at least, to see if it's relevant to you.
Sorry, they are from RM, it would be too expensive to get them here. You can search "passivhaus chile" and there will be enough certified companies in most southern regions. But yes, I'm in hopes that somebody can share a recommendation...

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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:40 pm

20190827_182630.jpg
so this is probably the best photo i have to illustrate the problem of framing and insulting in chile. this was my kitchen renovation; or, more exactly complete overhaul.

this use to be crappy little kitchen, with dark hallway, and crappy old bathroom with thousands of pounds of ugly cheap tile. ripped that all out to make one respectable size kitchen, with a bar.

the orginal studs were 2x3, 2.5 inches dimmensioned, then they cut in to the studs for electric and water. leaving about one inch of stud to hold the second floor up. also, no space for insulation. the studs were also warped, etc. nothing good to hang drywall on. the entire side of that house would creaked when the wind would blow.

so best solution all the way around was to reframe from the inside, offsetting the studs from the original, and taking the load off the old ones. this allowed another line of insulation, and floor to sealing with no breaks in the insulation.

when you put your hand on the old studs, you could feel how cold they are, compared to the new ones. no need for a thermal camera to notice the difference.
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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:48 pm

here is what that looked like at the start:
20190827_184919.jpg
this was an old crappy window, that looked at the wall of the garage.

look at all that wood though ghosting energy, yet it is not supporting anything. evidenced by the way the frame and wood is being crushed by the weight of the second floor.

FYI, i had already started adding blocking around the edge of the window to get the loads transfering correctly at this point.
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Re: Passive House (Passivhaus) construction

Post by admin » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:56 pm

it is like they use twice the amount of wood, in such a way that it only supports 1/4 the weight.
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