Tag: double glazed

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Why our 9+ Star Superpod® House Barely Reaches 7 NatHERS Stars

PodMarket South Elevation Dwg

Why our 9+ Star Superpod® House Barely Reaches 7 NatHERS Stars.

This is the street frontage of an old house, showing a Superpod® house extension going up soon (peeking out from behind) in an old established part of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The house at the front is very old. In fact, the houses in this street are 130 years old.

The Superpod® house extension at the back is over 200 sqm with 2 storeys, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, dining, and 2 lounges. You won’t see it much from the street. It’s the shaded orange part in this image.

The extension, if it was rated under the NatHERs energy rating scheme, would be a 9 star house.

Sounds good, but we think it’s better than that. That’s because the NatHERS scheme doesn’t fully recognise all the benefits of our certifiable passive house system. Like the performance of our fully imported windows. Or our thermal breaks. Or our airtightness.

Check out one of our previous stories on this: NatHERs star rating doesn’t test airtightness

But, alas, we can barely reach 7 stars with this whole building. That is, taking into account the old house together with the super performing extension. Retrofitting the old 1890’s house at the front isn’t going to make it easy. It faces south. It’s got single glazed windows. And insulating the poor old walls will be a trick.

But let’s focus on the good part. We are facing climate change head on. We are providing optimum comfort and health. We are loosening the hold of the ever growing power bill. All this without solar panels. It’s the good building that counts. Jewellery on the roof doesn’t replace decent clothing in the fabric of the building.

PS Our Superpod® system is a fast, easy way to achieve the world’s best practice for energy efficiency and comfort. The International Passive House Standard. Our patent pending system (United States next, here we come!) is available for licence to designers, developers and builders. From tiny pods to high rise and commercial buildings.

I know, it’s hard to get your head around. Licensing a building system? After years of developing our IP we think it’s worth it. Innovation is often hard to get your head around. We look forward to co-innovators who want to work with us!

2D South Elevation Drawing
2D South Elevation Drawing
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Certified Passive House – Why Bother?

Passive House

Without a certificate, it’s just a passive house. Or is it?

I was pleased to be informed that I have been invited for the second time to present on this topic at the International Passive House Conference.  This one is in Munich, 2018.

Below is the abstract I submitted.


“Certificates are sometimes treated as a unnecessary label, and other times like a necessary evil. They can be ignored as irrelevant; or resented and feared as a barrier to entry.

The Passive House Standard requires certificates. Sometimes for building components. Other times for designers. At all times for the building itself. The physical building as built and tested.

This list of certificates makes it more difficult to achieve the Standard.

But, after all, it is a standard. It is not just a warm and fuzzy feeling (although it is that and much more).

Certificates for components can be hard to obtain. And certified components are not yet imported around the world.
Certificates for designers are hard to obtain. And certified designers can be thin on the ground in your country, let alone designers who have actually designed a certified passive house. Newly qualified designers do not have “runs on the board”.

And certificates for buildings are hard to obtain too. The process is so rigorous and laborious, from design stage to building stage to completion and testing. You can do everything well until the end, and fail the blower door test. What a disappointment that can be for all involved.

Because the certificates are hard to obtain, people find ways of dismissing their relevance. They can see the benefits of the Passive House Standard, but they can’t obtain them. So they start to appropriate the terminology of the International Passive House Institute and claim that their inferior buildings are equivalent. They call their buildings “passive house” buildings. And members of the public do not know the difference.

In some countries like Australia, this is complicated by the fact that solar panels are easy to instal. So people claim their houses are “net zero” ie better than passive, simply by adding a few solar panels to the roof. The customer may end up paying no power bills, so they are relatively happy, not knowing that the Passive House Standard could have produced so much more.  Because of ignorance in this field, and salespeople who are keen to sell their products and services, the benefits of potential certification are lost.

Sometimes people think that they can tack on or add on a certificate to a good quality building. But the road to certification is long and paved with obstructions. Without a certification aim, their design, insulation, connection details, windows, and ventilation will be sub-standard.

A certificate for a passive house building is not just a ticket. It is the result of a complex, rigorous process with commitment from all involved.

Certification makes a massive difference to the end product, the comfort for users, the existence of drafts, condensation and mould, and the power consumption.

For those who understand the Passive House Standard, we need to explain to consumers what it means. Perhaps explaining it will help people to choose true Passive House, instead of a poor alternative.”

With the Superpod® system, we aim for certification every time.  We are not content to stop when architectural lines are on a page.  We are content when the building is finished, tested, and certified.

What do you think?

Do you think solar panels and timber linings make a building sustainable?

Do you think any building with passive house elements can be called a Passive House?

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Why do triple glazed or double glazed windows make a difference?

Triple glazed windows are standard from Unilux

Why should you choose triple glazed or double glazed windows or doors for buildings in Australia?  Many people think it’s a waste of effort.  But a closer look shows you that it can make a massive difference to your life.  Working, resting, eating, sleeping, and living – all are improved when you have high quality windows as part of your build.

We posted earlier this year on some technical info regarding double glazed and triple glazed windows.  You can see our post here:  What’s going on with U values?

So we ask the question: why bother with double glazed or triple glazed windows in Australia?  Aren’t we too mild a climate for it to matter?

The first point is that we are not that mild in Australia.  Not in Darwin.  Not in Canberra.  Not in Melbourne.  Not in the Blue Mountains.  Not in Tassie.  It’s not too mild when it’s 5 degrees outside.  And it’s not too mild when it’s 35 degrees outside!

So let’s dispel that myth that Australia is too mild to need high quality windows.

It’s simple.  An extra layer of glass (or two), with gas in between the panes, can make a massive difference to your comfort.

And it can also make a big difference to your heating or cooling bills.

In our earlier post,  What’s going on with U values? , we explained why lower U values bring you better resistance to heat flow in or out of the building.  That’s another way of saying that triple and double glazed windows provide better insulation.

That means you can sit next to these good windows on a cold day but you won’t feel cold coming through the glass.  And heat can be kept out too, if it’s a hot day outside. (A bit of external shading will help there, of course.)

Of course, you need good window frames too.  Layers of glass aren’t enough.

And you have to instal the windows well.

And yes, it’s preferable that your building is well insulated too!

But getting back to windows and triple or double glazing.  Here’s a comparison visual for you.

Windows by Unilux have low U values
A Kommerling window frame with triple glazing made by Unilux.  Triple glazed or double glazed windows are high performing to insulate your building from extreme temperatures.  You can almost see how hard it is for extreme temperatures to get through!
Windows can look the same but double and triple glazed windows with proper frames are very different
Standard supply Australian metal frames with heat travelling through the metal and single glazing will have poor performance.

So back to the topic.  Why do double glazed and triple glazed windows make a difference?  It’s easy to see.  Windows are your weak point.  If you instal thin metal frames and single glazing, you will be much more uncomfortable next to that window, extreme temperatures will get in easily, and your power bills will be higher.

Not only that, but condensation and mould will be something you continually battle with.  Not good for the health.

However, if you buy a high quality double glazed or triple glazed window with a properly designed frame made from an insulative material like Upvc or timber, you will be much more comfortable, and your power bills will be lower.

Don’t be fooled by how the frame looks on the outside, look at the soul of the window – on the inside.

If you’d like advice or a quote for your next project, send us an email at info@superpodhome.com.  If you’d like to use our web form or sign up to our email list, ry this link:  High quality windows Inquiry Form.

Study the options carefully.  Examine the inside of the window frames, not just the outside.  Ask your suppler to give you U values of the glass and frame.  This might be a more important purchase than your next car!

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Climate Change Act in Victoria

Sun Feature Munch

Make a cup of tea, this post is a little more technical than usual.  It’s about how the Passive House Standard relates to Climate Change.

The Victorian Climate Change Act 2017 was passed in February and will come into operation this year. What does it mean for those who procure, design and build buildings?

Continue reading Climate Change Act in Victoria