Homebuilders often face a trilemma: the home can be affordable, energy-efficient, or comfortable – pick two. Passive Houses are increasingly becoming a popular choice for homeowners since they achieve all of the above benefits. We regularly advise clients in our Cork and Dublin showrooms on the benefits of engineered wood flooring for Passive Houses. But what are passive houses? How do elements such as engineered wood flooring benefit a Passive House?
What is a Passive House?
Passive House is a construction concept that was not invented, but rather discovered and adopted by architects and builders. The PassivHaus Institute in Germany was founded in 1996 to research and develop the concept of homes that are energy-efficient, affordable, and comfortable.
Although green building councils such as LEED provide building certification, passive houses do not require certification – but it’s certainly a strong starting point to ensure the home meets several key criteria.
Passive House Certification is therefore an important asset to consider. There are high standards that must be met, and many advantages to pursuing Passive house construction principles.
Style, Comfort and Energy Efficiency
Wood Flooring Ireland recently had the privilege of working on a Passive House project in Bandon in conjunction with PMN Architects. This modern, beautiful home achieves a fantastic blend of style, comfort, and energy-efficiency according to Passive House principles.
The Bandon Passive House project required stable and durable timber flooring product to extend across the long halls and to seamlessly cover the entire house. We selected high-quality European Oak with a specialised finish for its superb qualities such as durability and exceptional quality. The oak was hand-designed in Ireland and samples were prepared for the client. After considering various styles like Chevron, Herringbone and Versailles Panels, the client chose Long Plank Wood Flooring for the project.
Bespoke Wood Flooring for Passive Houses
One of the basic principles of Passive House design is thermal insulation. Bespoke wood flooring plays an important role in meeting the space heating energy demands and thermal comfort during the winter.
The high-quality oak flooring used for the project is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), thus no solvents were used in the glues, the product, or the adhesive used during installation. The glues used in the production process are MS polymer adhesive. This choice of product maintains a permanent elasticity and has excellent UV resistance, which made it ideal for the project.
It is of paramount importance that harmful chemicals and VOCs do not circulate within a home. Wooden floors are perfect for Passive Houses as they reduce energy consumption whilst ensuring there are no toxic emissions.
It was essential to use high quality wooden floors due to the lack of VOCs and the need for stable, strong floorboards. Without expertise and the right manufacturing process, the floors would not meet the required standard. This would lead to problems as replacing or refinishing a floor creates a substantial quantity of dust, and finishes containing VOCs may be involved. Furthermore, the added cost and materials required for their upkeep were considered. Our approach thus maintained sustainable energy-efficiency and low maintenance requirements.
Underfloor Heating in the Bandon Passive House
We selected high-quality oak engineered wood flooring due to its superb thermal conductivity and because the project required an underfloor heating system. Our engineered wood flooring has the lowest possible thermal resistance and therefore was a natural fit.
Why is underfloor heating ideal for Passive Houses? Typically, underfloor heating is used for homeowners that want the sensations of warmth and comfort below their feet. In a Passive House, the unparalleled insulation properties provide excellent thermal benefits.
One key advantage of underfloor heating is that it requires low flow temperatures. What this means is that heated surfaces can be joined to systems such as heat pumps which exert low flow temperatures. Wood flooring reduces heat dissipation and provides adequate warmth in the winter months.
One challenge of an underfloor heating system is that it can be expensive. However, because high quality, ventilation systems are essential in Passive Houses, they can provide heat as well which reduces the heating costs.
The High Quality of the Bandon Project
The Passive House in Bandon was a high-end project that resulted in extremely satisfied clients, and we’re proud to have contributed to such a fantastic design. The home’s integrated solar shading features, its long corridor designed for maximum natural daylight, and its bespoke wood flooring all contributed to an exemplary Passive House project that inspires.
Note: All the photographs in this article were taken by F22 Photography. We worked with The PassivHaus Architecture Company to deliver this high-quality project.