• Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Passive House Construction – Ultra Energy Efficient Homes

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | ‘Passive House’ is a voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require minimal energy to heat or cool the space.

Passive House is one of the world’s leading energy efficiency standards. It is a construction concept made to build comfortable, environmentally friendly and affordable homes and buildings.

The design focuses on making the best use of the “passive” influences in a building, like sunshine, shading, and ventilation, rather than active heating and cooling systems such as air conditioning and central heating. Coupled with top levels of insulation and airtightness, this makes it possible for a passive home to use up to 90 per cent less energy than a typical dwelling.

This design principle has particular relevance for a country like Uganda, who has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world. Despite significant efforts over the last 20 years to bring electricity to more Ugandans, the rate has remained low; around 24%.

While power is available in Uganda, many communities, homes, and businesses do not have access to electricity due to expensive grid connection fees, including high house wiring costs.

Therefore, better building design that minimises the need for electricity is well suited to Uganda.

For any home to be designated as passive, it must incorporate a set of specific best practices that seal it from outside temperatures while maintaining a stable indoor temperature and high air quality.

Space Heating

At peak demand, the energy demand for space heating must not exceed 15 KWH/m2 of living space per year or 10W/m2. This contrasts with the 100W/m2 needed in a typical house. 

Primary Energy

Total energy needed for all domestic applications (heating, hot water and domestic electricity) must not exceed 60 KWK/m2 of living space per year.


Passive buildings are airtight and should have an amount equal to or less than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure.

Thermal Comfort

Living areas should be comfortable all year round, with 10 per cent or fewer hours in a year exceeding 25°C.

Therefore, in the era where we are grappling with the emergence of climate change and looking for ways to live a sustainable lifestyle, a passive house offers hope not only as of the world-leading energy efficiency standards, but also as a construction concept for building comfortable, environmentally friendly, and affordable homes and buildings.

If you are interested in building a passive house, do the basics right. Before you make your building design, find a passive house consultant or certified designer. This is a vital step that will propel you in the right direction.

“The worst thing you can do is wait for the house to be designed and then try to add the passive elements on top,” says Ken Levenson, a passive house professional.

A passive house is built like any other as it uses the same materials, methodologies, workers, and schedules as a non-passive house.

Most work takes place during the design stage. This is because every element has to work together to produce the desired benefits of the method.

“It’s sort of like building a thermos,” says Ken Levenson, “but it’s a thermos with great ventilation.” 

When you want space to maintain temperature naturally, whether it’s as tiny as a thermos or as large as a home, you’re going to be following many of the same rules.

Passive houses need to be airtight, have continuous insulation, triple-paned windows, and an excellent system for controlling air quality.

The home’s design also needs to eliminate a phenomenon called thermal bridging, which occurs when the temperature of one material transfers to another through physical touch, like a room feeling cold in winter because the steel beam supporting the floor is touching the freezing brick on the façade.

In summary, passive house design follows five principles: no thermal bridging, superior windows, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulation, and airtight construction.

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