The passive house software allows one to set your own performance standard by selecting how much energy (oil/gas/electricity) one wants to use to heat the building.
For example current Irish house builds that comply with today’s standard 2014 are estimated to use 100watts per m2 (subjective). The passive house standard if one goes for certification uses 10w per m2 (objective).
The real benefit for using the PHPP software is that the performance approach can be set by the home user. For example if I want to reduce my energy consumption to 1.5 litres of oil per m2 of the house size then I can set the software to a maximum of 15kwh per m2 for the year while maintaining a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
In a typical 3 bedroom house with an area of 100m2 the oil usage would be 150 litres a year. With the PHPP performance software one can set the number of litres of oil (or gas etc) per year that your residential or commercial property will use to within a small margin of error. In other words you select the performance value of your build.
In summary the PHPP software takes into account your comfort and health (temperature and oxygen levels) by removing high CO2 levels and VOCs and providing an even temperature throughout the house.
The Performance Standard
A performance standard is objective (quantitative) . One calculates the energy performance using software called the Passive House Institute planning package (PHPP). It calculates the energy gains and losses. Energy values for example are calculated from the number of people in the house, the solar gain, appliances, all types of losses such as the diameter of copper pipes feeding the hot water taps etc. This tool allows one to create a design for a new build or a renovation where the energy use can be quantified and set by the occupant.
Other solutions for managing building energy usage are in the majority rating systems. A rating system is subjective (nobody knows for sure how efficient it is or how much energy will be used). In Ireland the system is called BER (Building Energy Rating). In England they have BREEAM.
The Irish rating system is weighted towards adding on features such as a porch, solar panels, a heat pump etc., in order to get a high BER rating and it is subjective. One BER assessor may deem it an C2 and another a C3.
The passive house approach primarily aims to reduce and measure your energy consumption and only then do you add features such as solar panels or other heating systems.
While the two approaches exist the BER one is mandatory. What this means is that you could build a house to an energy performance standard that uses the lowest amount of energy in the world and fail to get the current Irish required BER rating.
My interest is the performance approach (using the passive house energy balancing software called PHPP) to design and build the house. As the old/new saying goes “if you can measure it you can manage it“.