In an Australian first, Frasers Property Australia will test the economic and comfort benefits of a Certified Passive House home for the mass market in Australia against the outcomes of a standard family home.
Frasers Property is the first major developer to get behind the Passive House movement – a sustainable building standard already well-established in Europe – and will consider how to apply the findings to its national residential construction operations.
Passive Houses use features such as double-glazed windows, continuous thermal insulation and airtight measures (as appropriate to the local climate) to reduce air leakage, better regulate temperature control in the house and drastically reduce heating and cooling costs, while improving air quality.
As part of an innovative project to assess the long-term benefits of a Passive House, Frasers Property will build one at its Life, Point Cook community, which will be available to purchase.
The purchaser must agree to take part in a trial with the company, comparing the results over 12 months between a Passive House with that of an equivalent, typical new home.
Frasers sustainability manager (residential), Rory Martin, said it is a first for the volume home market in Australia.
“Some of the benefits of Passive House include a reduction in a home’s heating and cooling needs by up to 90 per cent and in Europe it has also shown to improve the health and wellbeing of occupants,” Martin said.
“We are focused on building communities of the future, so we really want major builders to get behind the movement. Once they see the benefits, we hope people will have these real options when they are building their new home at any one of our developments.
“It’s early days still, but we have spent the past couple of months meeting the design requirements of Passive House, which in itself has been an incredible journey for our in-house design team, and we look forward to moving to the construction phase in the next couple of months.”
Martin hopes that over time, higher demand will reduce the added costs of building a Passive House for consumers.
“It’s about finding all the one-percenters and adding them up to build better quality homes for people,” he added.
Martin and his team are working with Certified Passive House Designer Clare Parry for guidance and to ensure the house meets strict Passive House principles and criteria.
“There are only about 30 Certified Passive Houses in Australia at the moment, so this initiative is certainly a first coming from a large-scale developer,” Parry said.
“While interest has been slowly building for a number of years, this year there has been an incredible amount of awareness raised about Passive House buildings, with a greater recognition and understanding of the benefits of healthier buildings.
"Current interest in the Passive House standard does seem to be driven by health and wellbeing, though a Passive House also substantially reduces energy consumption and costs.
“Air leakage in buildings is a big problem and can result in comfort and air quality issues. It can account for half of the energy costs of heating and cooling a home. In effect, building leakage is like leaving your front door open.”
Parry said the Passive House standard has been established in Europe for almost 30 years and data showed that healthier homes were having a positive impact on people suffering from illnesses such as allergies and asthma.
“In a Passive House, mould and condensation are designed out, and because the home is airtight and mechanically ventilated there is also reduced dust and allergens, so for people with conditions like hayfever and asthma there are real benefits,” Parry said.
Frasers Property will begin construction of its Passive House at Life, Point Cook in early 2019 and
hopes to have a family living in the home to start the year-long trial by the start of 2020.