The Impact of Passive Design on Sustainable Architecture


What is passive design and how does it affect sustainable architecture?

People are quick to get excited about the monetary savings associated with sustainable architecture, but aren’t so quick to study-up on the difference in savings between active and passive design. One design is truly energy and cost effective, and the other is not so sustainable. What is the difference, exactly? What is the overall impact of active design and passive design? Which is right for my budget? Alternative Energy Construction has the answers you need to make an educated and informed decision.

Active Design vs. Passive Design

Active design refers to any “purchased” energy, or anything that uses electricity. Passive design refers to all “non purchased,” natural energy. Every time you flip a light switch, you are using active energy. You are also using active energy design every time you use a fan, HVAC unit, or radiant flooring to cool or heat your home. Active energy costs resources, which means it costs you and the environment. Active design within a sustainable building takes away from the sustainability factor, as it doesn’t save you much of anything, and costs you while still leaving a substantial ecological footprint.

Passive design uses natural energy from the sun and wind patterns to light, heat, and even cool a building. Passive design utilizes south facing windows to add heat, parallel windows to create a cooling cross-breeze, and skylights to offer light and additional heat. Passive design also utilizes strategically placed windows or skylights as a cooling mechanism, deflecting unwanted light back into the atmosphere and away from the building. Deflecting heat away from a building, affords a cooler internal temperature without relying heavily on HVAC units. Sustainable architecture relies heavily on the reduction of energy consumption and the increase of energy-sufficiency to make it truly, well, sustainable. Running HVAC units and other heating and cooling systems is costly in dollars and in energy.

Passive design is essentially the key sustainability component in sustainable architecture. Passive design reduces the need for purchased energy (i.e. electricity, natural gas, etc.), which then reduces use of resources, costs, and the impact that your home has on the ecosystem.

Sustainable architecture is a moneywise and eco-friendly investment, but only if it is truly sustainable in an energy consumption sense. Rather than spending time and money on a “sustainable” building with costly active energy design, utilize passive design and turn your home into an energy-efficient and eco-friendly home – and reap the benefits of your future savings!

Passive design is sustainable and eco-friendly; active design is only sustainable to the big electric and natural gas companies’ bank accounts. Save more, while simultaneously saving the environment we live in. Passive design helps pave the road to a sustainable future.

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