Seminar 10: Passive Design Strategies and Passivehaus

Group members: Andy, Lesley, Kent, Dale, Kalika, Tyler Y, Chelsea, Leanza, Neda, Jessica M, Caitlin B.

Article 1: Ip, Kenneth, and Andrew Miller. “Thermal behaviour of an earth-sheltered autonomous building – The Brighton Earthship.” Renewable Energy 34 (February 28, 2009): 2037-43.


Earthship Biotecture “Earthship Exterior” Digital Image. Accessed April 6th, 2013.

  • Earthships are buildings constructed from a variety of recycled material including automobile tires. These structures are also self sustaining and can be built anywhere throughout the world. They provide electricity, drinking water, sewage treatment and sustainable food production.
  • The Brighton Earthship serves as an example of such design, being an independent vessel which is earth sheltered and utilizes thermal mass effect. It is constructed of recycled and found materials

Article 1 Discussion:

  1. Would you ever live in one of these houses? Why or Why not? While the aesthetics of the house is not that pleasing at first glance, the overall concept is inspiring – the fact that energy expenditures within the household do not affect the outside environment. However, most of these structures are based in a rural setting, which is not that practical for meeting everyday needs such as work and food.
  2. If you were commissioned a passive house would you choose prefab or site specific? I personally would choose to design a site specific design. Site is everything in determining the functionalities of the house, and in passivehaus design this is particularly key when considering power by wind, solar, or hydro energy.

Earthship Biotecture “Earthship Interior” Digital Image. Accessed April 6th, 2013.

Article 2: “Building a Green Home”

  • The problem of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings
  • buildings are the biggest contributors to GHG’s
  • many strategies available to help reduce these impacts
  1. solar energy
  2. wind energy
  3. green roofs
  • green buildings cost more initially but overall lifetime costs are the same, or less than traditional construction

Article 2 Discussion:

  1. Some of the most popular passive design strategies are heating, cooling, solar energy, efficient spatial planning, lighting, rain water harvesting, envelope sealing and vegetation. Which strategies would work in Winnipeg? What wouldn’t? Rain water harvesting would be a consideration given the amount of rain and snow distributed in Winnipeg, implementing the prairie sun would be ideal as well. The constant fluxes in temperature would be difficult to work with and thus vegetation would be more difficult to maintain.
  2. If a passive house development creates at least 5000 units, the cost is equal to traditional housing development. Could passive housing work in Winnipeg? What if Waverly west was made of Passive houses? While the implementation of such practices would be ideal, many people would be hesitant in solely relying on weather patterns – particularly in Winnipeg where the patterns change all the time.
  3. After a term of learning about ecology and design, have you had any changes in your stance on design, or how do you envision yourself designing in the future? Overall, the course raised various questions pertaining to design, developing thoughtful consideration in properly merging natural and human systems in design. Ecological design is only beginning to take hold in society, and I believe our generation will be a driving movement in implementing more sustainable design practices. Overall, design is about working with the environment, looking like little design as possible – the structural systems must work to enhance or have little effect on the surrounding nature around it. By doing so, we create better environments for human life through wholesome interaction with nature.



~ by sbrodick on April 18, 2013.

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