A passive house is a home design built for optimal energy reception, retention and generation. Passive styles follow strict energy standards and regulations and are considered the epitome of eco-friendly home design. They’re airtight, extremely insulated and generate heat by external passive solar gain. Of course, these passive houses are outfitted with passive structures, including doors and windows. Passive windows have their own unique designs and characteristics that set them apart from traditional windows. Discover more about the exclusive qualities of passive windows below.
How Windows Fit into the Passive House Design
In passive designs, windows must adhere to specific principles. For example, the windows must provide a certain amount of shading or be oriented in a certain way to ensure maximum energy dispersion. There should be fewer windows on the north, west and east sides of the house. In fact, the north should have the fewest windows. The south-facing side, on the other hand, should have the greatest number of windows. This is all based on how the sun shines, as the south receives the greatest amount of sunlight and the north receives the least. So, the more windows on the south side, the more sunlight your home will receive.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is a major component of passive house design. SHGC is a measurement of the amount of solar gain a passive house and its structures possess. In passive designs, at least 50% of the heat comes from passive solar gain, 15 to 30% comes from internal gain, and 10 to 20% comes from a heating system. Thus, in this type of design, south-facing windows must have a high SHGC. The SHGC is measured in decimals, so south-facing passive house windows are required to have an SGHC of 0.50 or more. This type of rating can often be found in European windows, like those sold by Fohn Openings.
Passive house designs work best with windows with low U-factors or values. Windows with higher U-factors enhance insulation and energy performance. European windows also offer these low U-factor ratings. Passive designs don’t require windows with these low ratings; they simply work better with them and are therefore highly recommended.
For more information on how European windows will add significant value and style to your home, please contact us.