A sustainable housing project in Sunshine, Victoria, Australia, is taking a groundbreaking approach to affordable living.
Baptcare, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ensuring social well-being, in collaboration with the Victorian Government and national residential builder Creation Homes, has finalized the construction of 20 affordable housing units designed to the Passivhaus Standard. Inhabit has provided Sustainability and Passivhaus consulting services on the project.

Passivhaus, a design standard that originated in Germany, is a rigorous, scientific methodology for achieving extreme energy efficiency in buildings. Buildings certified to the Passivhaus Standard can reduce energy consumption by up to 90 per cent compared to conventional homes. The core principles of the Passivhaus Standardinclude:

  • Thermal insulation: Effective insulation ensures that the inside temperature remains constant, reducing the need for heating or cooling.
  • High-performance windows: Specialized windows and doors minimize heat loss – as an integral component of the envelope.
  • Ventilation with heat recovery: Systems to ensure fresh air supply while retaining most of the temperature of the outgoing air, further aiding in maintaining internal temperatures and energy efficiency.
  • Airtightness: A well-sealed building ensures minimal energy loss. Validation through testing is key to successful airtightness.
  • Absence of thermal bridges: Eliminating ‘cold corners’ or areas where heat transfer across the envelope to ensure a more consistent internal temperature.

Fabric design is critical to delivering beneficial outcomes for future tenants, encompassing a holistic perspective of the building envelope that includes orientation, insulation, glazing, and materials. The energy efficiency achieved through appropriate fabric design can reduce the need to operate active heating and cooling systems.
Occupant thermal comfort is also demonstrated via passive design strategies such as shading and natural ventilation, and through the attentive detailing of the airtightness envelope and thermal bridging. Certification to the Passivhaus Standard is important quality assurance to ensure that these highly performing dwellings are designed and built appropriately and responsibly for future tenants.

Lawrence Le“For many, the concept of sustainable housing evokes images of high costs. However, while the upfront costs of such homes might be slightly higher, the long-term savings on energy bills offer financial relief to occupants – alongside a year round comfortable internal space. Baptcare’s initiative is a demonstration of how future housing can be both affordable and sustainable. As the world grapples with climate change, such projects illuminate the pathway for responsible housing developments.”

Lawrence Le, Building Physics + Sustainability Engineer

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