Floor with south-facing windows;

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Dec 8, 2022


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You are a consultant within an engineering firm and have been asked to provide your expertise in
designing a two-storey passive house for a client in the Reading area. A passive house is a “wellinsulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain” in which “energy
losses are minimized”1
. On your first visit to the future location of the home, or its site, you notice that
the property is slightly sloped from north to south. You also know that the local climate is temperate
with warm summers and cold winters, so good window shading in the summer and lots of sun in the
winter would be ideal in making your clients comfortable. In your discussions with the client, you agree
on the overall design of the house (illustrated in the sketches in Figure 1) and provide specific
recommendations about its orientation, or the way the house should be positioned. For example, you
agree to locate most of the home’s windows, or glazing, on the south side to catch the winter sun, but
also to design roof overhangs for this glazing as a shade in the summer. While the dimensions of the
home on the rough sketches below are provisional and can be slightly modified in your detailed
design, the following is a list of design parameters for your drawings that you and your client have
agreed on:
• The total area of the house (ground and first floor plan) should not exceed 90m2
• On the ground floor, the most-used rooms (living room, dining room, and office) will face
south to take advantage of the sun; while the least-used rooms (kitchen, bathroom and stairs)
will be located on the cooler north side;
• Bedroom and the second bathroom (located above the one on ground floor) are on the first
floor with south-facing windows;
1 www.phius.org/home-page
2 | 3
• There will be no basement;
• *The soil on the site is load-bearing (i.e. is compact and can withstand weight) so standard
concrete strip footings can be used;
• *Exterior walls are load-bearing cavity walls with a brick exterior, or finish;
• *Interior partitions are made of timber studs
• *The roof is constructed with thermally insulated wood rafters and covered with tiles.
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