How Not to ‘Live Your Life in a Jumper’ - Legacy of HVAC and the Curious Case of Comfort in Passivhaus

Zhao, Jing and Carter, Kate (2015) How Not to ‘Live Your Life in a Jumper’ - Legacy of HVAC and the Curious Case of Comfort in Passivhaus. In: 31th PLEA conference, Bologna, Italy.

How Not to ‘Live Your Life in a Jumper’ - Legacy of HVAC and the Curious Case of Comfort in Passivhaus
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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Since the 1970s, the comfort model has experienced a major paradigm shift from PMV/PPD to the
‘adaptive comfort’ model (de Dear et al., 2013). As opposed to considering buildings as
‘environmental capsules’ with centrally controlled HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning),
the core concept of adaptive comfort resides in the idea of harmonizing the outdoor and indoor
environment with natural ventilation, and to widen the comfort range of the occupants by increasing
adaptive opportunities, to achieve comfort with less energy intensive practices. Passivhaus as a new
sustainable housing typology shares features of both a naturally ventilated building, and a
mechanically controlled building. It is designed on the premise that occupants are to accommodate its
passive features, and adapt their perception of comfort into a more sustainable mean. The result
however is far from ideal. Case study analysis of a diverse range of Passivhaus projects in the UK,
argues that fundamentally Passivhaus principle is against the principle of adaptive comfort. The legacy
of half a century’s application of HVAC has already changed the occupants’ expectations of comfort,
which are now based as much on a normality of controlled environment as on seasonal and climatic
variations. Many Passivhaus occupants are satisfied with or actively pursuing a narrow-ranged
temperature setting (20±1˚C) that was promised by Passivhaus system throughout the whole year.
Increased sensitivity to temperature change is experienced in a few cases, which seems to affect the
occupants’ demand for a rigid comfort zone in other scenarios. The study also shows the Passivhaus
system is in danger of engaging more energy intensive technology for cooling with the escalation of
global warming. To re-accommodate the adaptive comfort into the Passivhaus system, more attention
needs to be paid from an architectural perspective rather than relying on spread sheet calculation and
mechanical solutions.

Keywords:Passivhaus, adaptive comfort, HVAC
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:32477
Deposited On:20 Oct 2018 21:32

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