German architects and builders have been hugely influential in pioneering the kind of insulation and construction techniques that allow for very small amounts of energy to provide for a building’s heating needs. Key Architects of Japan have now brought the high standards of the European passivhaus movement to Japan, with a building heated largely by its occupants and appliances.
Japan’s first certified Passive House (which comes to us by way of Inhabitat) makes use of detailed construction techniques that improve the shell’s r-value to the point that the body-heat of the buildings occupants and the heat generated by appliances are captured and recirculated, cutting down on the amount of work that needs to be done by the HVAC system, which is further assisted by a Heat Exchanger, a device that uses the temperature of air leaving the building to warm fresh air coming in. The building also features triple-pane windows, thick walls for insulation, and a minimum of exterior joints, which are prone to air leaks and thermal bridging.
The Passive House concept was first proposed by Amory Lovins in the USA during the 1970’s, who envisaged a super-insulated houses that could be warmed by a hair dryer. It caught on in Germany, where Passivhaus became a standard all over Europe. A building certified as a Passive House when it achieves a strict kWh per square-foot per year energy profile, among other things–in this case of Japan’s Passive House, the home’s rating is a quarter of what is considered average for a building of its size.
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