Comfort Ventilation with Highly Efficient Heat Recovery

Due to the home ventilation system , Passive Houses are effortlessly clean, pollen-free, dust-free, and eliminates moisture and odors in places where they most occur.  Normally, for you to achieve all of what is listed above, you would need to opened up your windows. By opening up the windows, it would result in heat losses which is “greater than the total energy demand.” 

Thus, heat recovery from PHs are very essential for that exact reason.  According to Active for more comfort: The Passive House, “heat recovery reduces ventilation heat losses considerably because inside the heat exchanger, heat from the warm exhaust air is passed on to the cold fresh air.”  As a result, you’d get great temperature control, because often, it would bring incoming air almost up to room temperature with little energy used. However, note that both the air ducts and supply air ducts in the heat exchanger are leak-proof. Fresh air and exhaust air are never assorted. 


The Heat Recovery Process: How It Works In Winter Months

90 percent of heat from the outgoing exhaust air is transferred to the cool fresh air as it enters home, basically,once the heat is transferred on, it warms the incoming air to almost room temperature. The heat exchanger does not mix the fresh air and exhaust air: all that is transferred is the heat. The heat exchanger also include a filter which eliminates pollutants, pollens and other allergens.
The remaining heat required would be supplied by the sun, body occupants, and household appliances.


The Heat Recovery Process: How It Works In Summer Months

In summer months, the process is reversed: the warm outside air is transferred to the exhaust air and lets in only cooler fresh air inside the home. This prevents the warm air from entering the house, therefore, the interior stays cool.

Airtight Construction & Draft Free

Ideally everyone should live in an airtight home, not only does airtight reduces drafts, but it controls the moisture and humidity that takes place inside of your home. Also, you’d be saving tons of energy dollars.

Airtight houses are cheaper to heat since it “seamlessly encloses the heat space”, which means,  no wind or air would be able to move through the walls. Plus, you wouldn’t even need to worry about pollutants and insects that usually make their way through gaps and cracks (there wouldn't be any holes for them to come in).  You also wouldn't need to worry about molds due to moisture since there would not be any pathways for that to even exist.

Furthermore, moisture migration occurs because air leaks into the insulation layer, however, if your home is airtight, moisture migration will not exist. For colder climates, an airtight house can secure warm air from escaping your home, it is very energy efficient.

Some other advantages are : improving sound transmission (ie, a quiet and peaceful environment), saving energy, and preventing structural damage. Also, airtight homes and buildings are more durable, not to mention, you will be free of drafts and comfortable too.


Happy Earth Day NYC! Here are six things you can do on your next project to make our environment healthier, and you happier

Build a Roof Garden Your roof is like undeveloped land. It is time to utilize this space and make your little oasis in the city.  Grow your own herbs, better the environment, watch the sunset, improve your quality of life.


Get Passive It is possible to renovate or build a new house that requires zero energy. On your next major project, consider building to PassiveHouse standards.


Use Reclaimed Materials Using reclaimed materials not only gives your space a beautiful texture, it prevents unnecessary waste too.  


Think Big & Build Small Too many homes are oversized, requiring too much material and too much energy. Smaller, well designed homes can be an exciting and cost effective alternative. 


Be efficient Consider giving your home an appliance upgrade. Replace your gas cooktop with an induction cooktop, up to 80% of heat is lost with gas burners, while induction is 90% efficient.


Go Prefab Prefab is a great alternative if you want to build that uber cool weekend retreat in the Adirondacks. Integrate the latest green technologies, and you are truly living off the grid.


Thermal Bridge


Thermal bridge simply means that there is a weakness within your home structure that enables heat loss. That “weakness” only exists because the home is poorly insulated and constructed. The “bridge” is a passage/pathway for heat to escape and bring in cold air (absence of heat) through the building envelope. The envelope includes elements like:  walls, roof, and ceilings. Of special concern are conditions such as edges, corners, connections and penetrations that are responsible for the greatest loss of heat and where thermal bridging often occurs.


How do you eliminate or reduce thermal bridging?

For starters, if you are living in a Passive Home, you are guaranteed thermal bridge free construction. There is a high level of thermal insulation. In addition, construction details are engineered to eliminate poor construction where thermal bridging often occurs.

Why does this phenomenon occur? It is a natural process, heat wants to travel where there is an absence of heat. To compensate for this loss, more energy consumption is required to replace the energy which escaped your house, this leads higher heating cost.  

Eliminating thermal bridges improves comfortability by eliminating cold spots inside your home. With Passive House,  your home will be comfortable year round.

Private Roof Gardens

sean obrien architecture is currently working with UrbanStrong, a project management company in New York City, that integrates green spaces into buildings. By collaborating with UrbanStrong, we can offer concept-to-build solutions. We design commercial and residential rooftops into livable, green spaces and private gardens, which in return, will give you an improved quality of life that helps you connect with nature. 

Please contact us for more information.


About Passive House

Do you want to live comfortably without any cold drafts? What about breathing clean and fresh air inside of your home? Or better yet, cozy and consistent temperatures throughout the year, with the guarantee that you will have lower utility bills?

If  your answer is yes to all, then Passive House should be your ideal home.

A Passive house has very low energy consumption and extremely high-levels of comfort. In fact, you may be able to say goodbye to all of your heating and cooling systems.  

Based on the design and construction of the home, Passive houses uses the sun’s energy as well as the energy our own body produces to heat the home. 

Below is what you will expect from a Passive House:

  1. Exceptionally high level of thermal insulation

  2. Airtight construction which creates draft-free rooms

  3. Comfortable ventilation with a highly efficient heat-recovery system

  4. Super energy-efficient windows

  5. Continuous fresh air in all rooms

  6. Thermal bridge free construction to eliminate the loss of heat

What makes Passive House even more unique, is that it can adapt to any local climate.  In hotter climates, passive houses focuses on shading and window ventilation, which will help keep the house cool. When it is cold, passive houses focuses on getting energy and heat from the sun. The best part is that, the heat stays inside and doesn't leave the home. You can also get heat from body occupants, and household appliances.

The first Passive House was built in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1991, and now, many countries are realizing how convenient  and efficient passive homes are. As of 2010, more than 15,000 buildings in Europe has been built or remodeled to the passive house standard. So far, passive houses have been constructed in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

Most importantly, apart from fresh air throughout the day and the high level of comfort, Passive House is an investment. It is slightly more expensive to build, but a lot less expensive to maintain. In a conventional home, you are concerned about the quality of construction and the high utility bills. Building a Passive House, on the other hand, ensures high comfort levels, clean air, and you’ll save between 75% and 90% on energy. A home built to Passive House standards is an exceptionally well built and engineered home, it will protect the value of your property for years to come.