Passive Design Principles

Passive Home Design Seminar

Passive homes are not only very efficient, having little or no energy bills, but their clever design means that at the same time, they are also light-filled, delightful places to enjoy.

Passive homes are designed with attention to the environment they are in, which at our latitude means that they face north to let in lots of winter sun (Passive heating – free heat) and exclude summer sun.

By facing north, fixed eaves above expanses of glass will allow plenty of winter sun deep into the home.

Passive (free) cooling effectively uses cool evening breezes to purge any warmth that may have begun to develop in the home during a hot summer day.   High opening windows are very effective at releasing the warm air that rises to the ceiling.  With a low opening on the opposite side of a room, a chimney effect occurs that can purge the arm air and draw in cool air, even when there is no outside breeze.  (For this reason, 2-storey dwellings should have a doorway in stairwells, to stop the movement upwards of warm air, that would make the lower storey uncomfortably cold in winter, and upstairs extra warm in summer)

Passive Design and Block Orientation

The “perfect” block for building a passive home – providing the block to the north has not got large, evergreen trees or multiple storey buildings.

The next best orientation, with the road to the south of the block.

The third best orientation (having the garage with solar access, rather than a living space, is a potentially wasted opportunity)

Passive design and thermal mass

A ceiling fan is an effective ‘airconditioner’ in summer by moving the air in the room over the cool thermal mass in the floor.



Shading of Glazing

Fixed Eaves:

Deciduous trees:

Movable shade device:


Draft sealing and installing ceiling insulation are the most cost-effective renovation to improve the performance of your home.

A great resource for passive design is the website:


Please see our PowerPoint presentation on ‘Passive Home Design’ (requires PowerPoint to view).

View PowerPoint

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