A couple of weeks ago, we took part to the 2016 edition of the Passive House Window Talks. This year, the location was Riga, Latvia.

The focus of the event is the importance of windows for comfort and energy efficiency of highly performing buildings such as passive houses.

01 Passive house
A passive house, near Riga.

Following the 2015 edition in Slovakia, the Riga event gathered architects and designers from Sweden, Norway and Romania, besides Latvia.

02 Sliding detail
Detail of the threshold of a lift-and-slide door, certified for use in a passive house. Note the taping for airtight installation.

The tour of several construction sites allowed participants to see first-hand solutions for air tightness and thermal bridges, which are of primary importance for the good quality of a thermal envelope.

03 Historic
A passive house window suitable for the retrofit of heritage buildings. It was developed by working hand in hand with the local Historic Heritage office.

One of the sites visited was the renovation of a building listed as historic heritage. In this case, the windows were particularly interesting, as they were developed to meet at the same time architectural heritage requirements and the passive house standard.

IMG_0283
A moment of the workshop.

The workshop included the development of projects from the participants in PHPP 9, to meet the passive house standard, in different climates.

05 What is PH
Benjamin Krick shows the principles of passive design.

Benjamin Krick of the Passivhaus Institut presented the principles of an efficient thermal envelope, based on compactness, thermal insulation and absence of thermal bridges.

06 Retrofit
Case studies of energy retrofits with the passive house standard, that allows a reduction of heating energy demand up to 90%.

The presentation also included case studies of energy retrofits with the passive house standard (see EnerPHit), with great potential for reduction of energy demand for winter heating (in some cases, up to 90%).

07 Economy
Franz Freundorfer showed how a passive house is more economical, if future energy and maintenance bills are included in the life cycle cost analysis.

Using PHPP 9, Franz Freundorfer analyzed the economic balance of several buildings in climate zones around the world: investing in a good quality envelope is the winning strategy, over the life cycle of a building.

08 Windows
The example of the finite elements analysis of a window, to assess its thermal quality.

The principles of the thermal behavior of windows were presented in detail, with the support of thermal analyses using finite element softwares. In highly performing buildings such as passive houses, windows are the cornerstones of the thermal envelope.

From the point of view of the thermal balance, in winter a performing window has higher solar heat gains than energy losses, basically heating the building for free. With the proper shading, a good quality window also protects the building from overheating in summer.

As far as comfort, a passive house suitable window has internal surface temperatures that are close to the ones in rest of the room, allowing for even comfort conditions (see image below).

Radian symmetry
The importance of windows for comfort purposes, to avoid asymmetry in the radiant temperature. Of course, the suitability of a specific window to achieve passive house comfort depends on local climate conditions.

The participants had the chance to work on their own projects, with a preliminary calculation first, and with an advanced one later on with PHPP. The goal was to optimize buildings from an architectural and technical point of view, to achieve the passive house standard in a cost-effective way in different climate zones.

10 Latvian architects
Latvian architects presenting their project, before developing it in PHPP 9.

Some participants, who did not bring their own project, worked on the design of one of the two passive houses we are currently building in Cavriago, Italy.

SONY DSC
A moment during the workshop on PHPP 9.

For the first time, in an “experimental” way, the Passive House Window Talks were broadcast across the Atlantic, to the USA.

11 Kansas
For the first time, the Passive House Window Talks virtually crossed the Atlantic.

The 2016 edition of the Passive House Window Talks were a success, with a good number of professionals involved from several countries around Latvia.

Windows play a very important role in the thermal envelope of highly efficient buildings, both for comfort purposes and for the energy balance. The goal of this event is to spread the knowledge and appreciation for good quality windows.

The 2017 edition is planned to take place in Ireland.

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