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Integration of Mechanical Ventilation Systems in Passivhaus Designs: Challenges and Solutions

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Integration of Mechanical Ventilation Systems in Passivhaus Designs: Challenges and Solutions

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Mar 19, 2024

Incorporating mechanical ventilation into Passivhaus construction requires careful consideration of the design, installation and operation to achieve the objectives of this eco-friendly form of construction. These objectives include creating an energy-efficient building that contributes to fewer global emissions. 

By addressing the potential complexities through high-quality products and continuous optimisation, Passivhaus buildings can deliver exceptional levels of comfort, health, and sustainability.

Understanding the challenges of integrating mechanical ventilation systems is essential for both designers and construction experts. Poor design or incorrect installation can lead to problems, including additional energy use, and fewer cost-savings as well as poor indoor air quality. Working in collaboration with system manufacturers ensures the right solution from the outset.

The challenges of integrating mechanical ventilation systems into the Passivhaus

To meet Passivhaus International standards, the building has to make efficient use of incoming and outgoing air. This requires a quality mechanical ventilation system that harnesses heat recovery and improves indoor air quality. 

The building should also be airtight to maintain a controlled indoor environment. Passivhaus airtightness is a key design feature that aims to provide a comfortable environment thanks to the installation of a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system (MVHR). MVHR differs from traditional ventilation due to its design and construction.

Good to know

To keep the building airtight the number of Passivhaus air changes per hour (ACH) is a maximum of 0.6 x a room’s volume. If the number of changes is above this the house is not meeting the required European Passivhaus standards.

Some of the challenges of incorporating mechanical ventilation into Passivhaus design include:

  • Airtightness - leaks can compromise system performance and energy efficiency, which is key to Passivhaus design.
  • Heat recovery efficiency - achieving maximum heat recovery efficiency requires careful design, sizing, and installation of heat exchangers and ductwork.
  • Sizing and design considerations – this is critical to ensure adequate ventilation, balanced airflow distribution and optimal energy performance. Building size, layout, occupancy patterns, and climate conditions must be carefully considered when designing ventilation systems that meet Passivhaus requirements.
  • Energy consumption - balancing energy efficiency with indoor air quality and occupant comfort requires careful selection of the right ventilation equipment to optimise energy performance without compromising indoor environmental quality.

Solutions for effective Passivhaus ventilation

EnviroVent mechanical ventilation systems offer several benefits for residential  buildings, contributing to improved indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Air permeability - Passivhaus air permeability standards ensure that buildings maintain airtightness to minimise heat loss and maximise energy conservation. EnviroVent mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery ensure good indoor air quality through a balanced system are maintained in these airtight dwellings. 
  • Effective ventilation - EnviroVent systems provide continuous ventilation to remove stale air and pollutants from indoor spaces while supplying fresh outdoor air, meeting the standard number of air changes per hour. By providing a balanced exchange of indoor and outdoor air, these systems help maintain optimal indoor air quality ensuring which maintains the well-being of the occupants.
  • Heat recovery - EnviroVent manufacture ventilation systems with heat recovery technology, which captures heat from outgoing stale air and transfers it to incoming fresh air. This process helps reduce heat loss during reducing heating costs and energy consumption, which is a particular benefit in cold climates.
  • Energy efficiency - the energy-efficient operation of EnviroVent systems aligns with global sustainability goals, such as Net Zero, which aims to cut greenhouse gases to virtually zero. 
  • Quiet operation - low noise levels make EnviroVent systems suitable for residential  buildings.
  • Air filtration - EnviroVent mechanical ventilation systems feature integrated air filtration to remove particulates, dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants from incoming fresh air. This helps improve indoor air quality, reduce allergy symptoms, and create a healthier indoor environment.
  • Customisable solutions - the range of mechanical ventilation systems can be tailored to different building types, sizes, and ventilation requirements.  EnviroVent provides designers and constructors with mechanical ventilation systems to meet specific project needs.
  • Smart controls - user-friendly controls and programming options allow occupants to adjust ventilation settings based on their preferences and occupancy patterns. 
  • Compliance and certification - EnviroVent offer mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems that comply with Passivhaus standards and regulations for indoor air quality and energy efficiency.

Investing in a state-of-the-art system that creates more sustainable living also requires the optimisation and maintenance of the ventilation system once it is in place. Regular checks and servicing will ensure the system continually performs at its best throughout its life.

Find out more about Passivhaus ventilation and its advantages by reading these FAQs.