Passive House & Low Energy

Passive House standard designs built in SIPs

Passive House (the UK equivalent of Passivhaus) is a low energy standard developed in Germany that reduces the heating required in buildings to negligible levels, thus negating the requirement for a traditional heating system. It is widely recognised as one of the most demanding energy efficiency standards around – and a popular goal for self-builders looking to create a bespoke, long-term home with minimal running costs. 

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are a first-class choice for self-builders looking to achieve a highly-efficient home with low running costs. The system provides inherently excellent fabric performance and airtightness, combined with a simple, streamlined construction programme, and they now offer a well-established alternative to traditional techniques..
Even more importantly, SIPs make it possible to build to standards such as Passive House without the need for excessively thick walls. You also retain complete design flexibility, whether your tastes run to the ultra-modern or a more traditional appearance.

Minimal air-leakage
As well as providing excellent levels of insulation, the jointing arrangements inherent in SIPs can provide extremely airtight structures, with air-leakage rates as good as 1m3/hour/m2 @ 50 Pa. Simple additional measures can be taken to reduce this rate to the 0.6 air changes per hour @ 50 Pa required by the Passive House standard.
Common construction techniques can be susceptible to air-leakage through poorly sealed sockets/switches; at floor zones through masonry cavity walls; under skirting boards; and even through poorly sealed loft hatches and top storey light fittings.  Using SIPs can help to alleviate all these issues. 

Mechanical Ventilation
The demanding airtightness requirements of the Passive House approach makes mechanical ventilation essential in order to maintain a constant flow of fresh air within a property and, in most cases, it will make sense to add a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) element to the system. MVHR units use the heat from outgoing stale air to warm incoming fresh air, creating a fresh and comfortable indoor environment and further reduce the property’s heating requirement.

Thermal bridging 
This is another factor in heat loss within a house. With SIPs the panels’ jointing arrangement is typically interrupted less frequently by repeating studwork, greatly reducing repeating thermal bridging  compared to timber frame construction.

Speed
Your SIPs kit is manufactured off-site with tight manufacturing tolerances, meaning that SIPs can be constructed very quickly once onsite. This allows for a much shorter build programme, which can typically be completed within a matter of weeks, leaving you with a highly insulated shell ready to receive follow on trades.

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