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Building the Future: A conversation with our Director about Passive House construction

Building the Future: A conversation with our Director about Passive House construction

In the ever-evolving realm of construction, the emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency has taken centre stage. We sat down with our Director Peter Gurovski to talk all things inspiration, challenges and opportunities surrounding the construction of Passive House and high-performance homes.

Take a read of our interview below.

What inspired you to focus on Passive House and high-performance homes?

It stemmed from my constant pursuit to enhance my skills and expand my knowledge within the construction industry. When the new seven-star energy rating was introduced, I immediately recognised the need to upgrade my expertise and delve deeper into what achieving such a rating entails. 

Passive House and high-performance homes became key topics of interest right from the start. As I explored what Passive House meant and its construction methods, I quickly realised the immense benefits these standards offered. They not only improve the living conditions for the occupants but also contribute to the longevity and sustainability of the homes. 

It became clear to me that the Passive House standard was significantly superior to any other building practices previously seen in Australia. This realisation motivated me to adopt these innovative construction methods, ensuring that the homes we build meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. 

It fits in well with what drives me to being a builder – and that’s the desire to build great homes for people and families to enjoy and for those homes to last.  

What are the key features and benefits of a Passive House or high-performance home?

They stand out for their energy efficiency, comfort, and sustainability. They feature superior insulation, airtight construction, high-performance windows, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. This all leads to minimising energy loss and maximising indoor air quality and condensation management.

The benefits are clear: reduced energy bills, a healthier living environment, and a lower environmental footprint. These homes not only save money but also enhance comfort and well-being, embodying a sustainable lifestyle choice for their occupants.  

Another key benefit is that these homes are peaceful and quieter than your standard home. 

What are some of the challenges and opportunities of building these homes in Melbourne?

Would you believe me if I told you that Passive House or high-performance standards are easier to achieve in Melbourne because we don’t have extreme weather differences? For example, in Alpine regions or Europe, temperatures will get to minus 20 degrees in the winter and high 30 degrees in the summer period.  

Yet, these challenges open great opportunities. Melbourne’s climate is conducive to Passive House principles, offering chances to innovate with design and capitalise on passive solar gain. With a growing interest in sustainable living, there’s a rising demand for these homes, positioning us to lead in high-performance construction. Overcoming these hurdles allows us to create homes that redefine comfort and sustainability in Melbourne’s housing market.

If we look at the challenges, the main ones would be higher initial costs and the scarcity of specialised materials and skilled labour.

How do you keep up with the latest trends and innovations in Passive House and high-performance homes?

This is my favourite part! It’s all about staying curious and connected. I make it a point to dive into workshops, seminars, and any event where I can get my hands on new research or catch up on the latest building techniques. 

I’m also plugged into a bunch of professional networks, industry associations and online forums. It’s amazing what you can learn just by chatting with peers who are as passionate about Passive House and high-performance construction as I am. 

And then there’s my reading list. I’ve got subscriptions to a few key journals and newsletters that focus on green building practices. Plus, I’m always online, scrolling through websites and databases that are all about Passive House standards and high-performance building. It’s about keeping my finger on the pulse and making sure I’m bringing the latest and greatest into every home I work on.

Does building a Passive House or high-performance home cost more to build compared to a standard home?

In short, yes it does. This is not just because of the specialised materials and advanced construction techniques required, but also due to the additional time, effort, and close management needed to effectively execute these projects. 

The meticulous planning and execution ensure that the stringent energy efficiency and comfort standards are met. While the upfront investment is higher, the long-term savings on energy bills and maintenance often offset these costs, making it a financially viable option over time.

Custom-built homes typically start at around $3,000 to $3,500 per square meter, with prices escalating based on the specifications and complexity of the build. 

When incorporating high-performance or Passive House standards, the baseline cost begins at $4,000 but it’s not uncommon for costs to reach $5,000 to $6,000 or even higher, especially for homes with higher specifications. In the case of high-spec homes, adopting Passive House standard may not significantly increase the overall cost, as much of the expense is already accounted for in the high-end specifications of the home.

If you are going to build a high-spec home, it would be a very wise decision to implement at the very minimal high-performance standards. 

What are some of the tips and advice that you would give to someone who is interested in building a Passive House and high-performance house?

Thorough planning and research! Really get to grips with Passive House principles and how they fit your site and climate. Choosing a team with the right experience—architects, builders, and consultants—is crucial for success.

Remember, it’s better to invest in quality materials and systems that provide airtightness, insulation, and efficient ventilation. These investments lead to lower energy costs and better comfort in the long run.

Also, consider your home’s design holistically. Everything from the placement of windows to the landscaping affects energy efficiency and comfort. Building a Passive House is more than just construction; it’s about crafting a sustainable, healthy living space for the future.

Sustainability also means building homes that last, combining beauty with craftsmanship. This approach ensures homes are preserved, not replaced, over time. 

My passion for restoring and renovating heritage homes has shown me the value of beautiful, well-crafted features that stand the test of time, avoiding demolition and fostering preservation.

In the pursuit of constructing sustainable, energy-efficient homes, the conversation with Peter offers a glimpse into the future of construction. 

From inspiration to challenges, innovations, and practical advice, these insights underscore the transformative power of Passive House and high-performance construction in shaping the homes of tomorrow.

If you are interested in beginning your Passive House journey, contact Peter at RoomFour today.

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