What Are The Principles Of Passive Design?

There are five principles of passive design. These are; orientation, thermal mass, insulation, windows, and shading. Each of these elements has a different role to play, helping you create the most effective house design possible. 

There are many elements to passive design. On their own, they can reduce the amount of electricity that the building uses. However, when combined, they have the potential to deliver a powerful result. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements. 


The first principle that needs to be considered is the way that the house is oriented. This will have a big impact on the amount of light that it will be able to receive. It will also dictate where the light will be coming from. 

In passive design, you want to make sure that the light is coming from the south in the northern hemisphere and from the north in the southern hemisphere. This allows the winter sun to warm the property.  The exact orientation will depend on the type of area that you are living in. 

Another important element to consider is whether you are installing solar panels. If you are, you’ll need to make sure that the property has been oriented to make sure that they get a lot of sun during the day. This will ensure that you are getting a reliable supply of electricity. 

Another benefit of finding the right orientation is getting plenty of natural light. This can save you money, as you won’t need to turn on the lights as often. Natural light has also been shown to improve mood, helping your mental wellbeing.

You can read more about this in our article “Which Side of a House Gets the Most Sun?“.

Thermal Mass

The next element of passive design that needs to be considered is the thermal mass of the house. This refers to the type of building materials that are used and how dense they are. For example, if you are using bricks, they tend to be fairly dense. This causes them to retain heat. 

This is one of the most difficult parts of passive design. You want to have enough dense materials to store the heat during winter. However, if you get too much density, you’ll end up getting too hot during the summer. When deciding what materials you are going to use, it’s essential to think about the climate of your local area. 

When done correctly, the thermal mass should be able to help you regulate the temperature. For example, if it’s warm during the day and colder at night, the temperature inside the house should remain pleasant.


Insulation is designed to create a barrier between inside the property and the outside temperature. For example, during the winter months, it might be cold outside, but inside the house, you’ll be toasty and warm. The insulation can also help you control the way that heat dissipates during the summer months. 

If the insulation hasn’t been installed correctly, it will make it harder to control the temperature inside the house. To give you an example of how important this is, houses that meet the Passive Home standard focus heavily on insulating well the building.

Insulation has another essential purpose. It will ensure that there aren’t any hot or cold zones. Mold and bacteria will naturally migrate to the colder parts of the house. These areas provide optimal conditions for the mold spores to germinate and grow. In addition to that, hot or cold zones will be the places through which the heat will be able to travel more easily, thus jeopardising the whole design.

There are many things to consider, to make sure that the insulation has been installed properly. First, you’ll need to make sure that everything has been sealed properly. Air leaks can cause a 25 percent variation in temperature. It’s also important to consider the way that heat will move through the house. 


The next element of passive design to consider is the windows. This is one of the most important parts of the design. They can often result in the biggest exchange of heat. There are many things that you will need to think about when choosing the windows. 

First, you’ll need to consider their size and where they will be located. This will let you calculate the type of impact they will be having on the house. For example, if you have large windows in direct sunlight, they will be letting a lot of heat into the property. 

The next element to consider is the way that the windows will be glazed. This can help you control the way that they absorb heat. When selecting the type of glazing that you’ll be using, it’s essential to think about the type of climate that you’re in and where the window will be located. Windows in different parts of the house might need to use different glazing. 

Many people like to use skylights. They can offer the ability to let plenty of natural light into a property. However, they can also increase heat gain. The best way to prevent this is by carefully selecting where the skylights will be placed. 


The final part of passive design to consider is shading. This will determine the amount of sunlight that each part of the house receives at what time of the day. This can have a big impact on how the house absorbs heat. 

There are several types of shading that you might be able to use. One of the most popular options is adding a tree or bush. By adding vegetation, you will keep your house cool while making the surroundings aesthetically pleasing. In some cases, there might be existing trees. If planting a tree, you’ll need to consider how tall it will grow and the type of leaf cover it will produce. 

In some cases, the shade might be built into the house. For example, you might be able to add eaves over the windows, to block out the sun at particular parts of the day. In other cases, you might want to use shade cloth. The best way to add shade will often depend on the climate and the type of house that you are creating. 

Final words

And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. If you liked this post, you will like “Why Is Passive Design Important?” & “What Is the Goal of Passive Sustainable Design?“.

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