7/28/2015

Exploring the Active House Concept

Active House is a vision that plays off of the concept of Passive House or PassivHaus, as it is known in countries besides the U.S. Passive House standards are geared towards using insulation and “passive” design elements to promote natural energy savings, ventilation, and comfort. Active House standards, on the other hand, are geared towards adding features such as skylights and windows in addition to specific design elements to actively save energy, decrease the impact on the environment, and increase comfort.

Who is Behind the Active House Concept?

The Active House Alliance is made up of companies and organizations from around the world that specialize in construction, manufacturing, architecture, ventilation, and many other areas. Some members are engineers or design experts that help to come up with design elements that will further the goals of the Alliance. The head office of the Alliance is located in Brussels, Belgium. Individuals and companies around the world can support the Active House concept by becoming network users or even members of the Alliance.

Goals of the Active House Alliance

The main goal of the Active House Alliance is to create an independent and international influence that helps to further the cause of crafting buildings that are healthier and more comfortable for residents, yet do not negatively impact the environment or the climate. The Active House Alliance seeks to open dialogues between building partners that help to achieve the goals and inspire designers to take a more holistic approach to construction. The Active House Alliance hopes to inspire politicians, legislators, building material suppliers, and architects to participate in furthering the Active House concept.

Active House Standards

The Active House standards differ from Passive House standards and other standards because they take many more elements besides energy consumption into consideration. Active House standards focus on factors such as lighting, view, indoor air quality, and ventilation. Active House standards also focus on noise transmission, freshwater consumption, and the life cycle of building materials used. Active Houses generally use more energy than Passive House standards allow, however.

Active House Design Elements

Some of the main elements that are used in the design of Active Houses are skylights, windows, and solar panels. Skylights and windows can be used to control the amount of light and heat energy that is allowed into the home, decreasing the need for heating or cooling and artificial lighting. Since these are some of the highest energy consuming activities in the home, energy usage is naturally decreased without sacrificing comfort. Active Houses may differ widely in appearance and structure, however.

A More Comfortable Solution

Active Houses are designed to cater to many different needs of homeowners and occupants, whereas most housing standards simply drive towards decreasing energy usage. This makes Active Houses a more comfortable solution than most “green” buildings. While many green concepts try to limit the number of windows to save energy and tighten the building envelope, Active Houses use windows for lighting and ventilation, giving the homes an open feel.