Passive Home Design

Planning to build a new home or renovate???
And wanting it to be affordable??
Well don’t make the mistake of worrying only about the construction costs. Consider your ongoing maintenance and running costs too!
To achieve the best for every objective, we need to start with the design! A PASSIVE DESIGN ?

What is a Passive Design?

A ‘Passive Design’ is home design that takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the home. These custom designs reduce or eliminate the need for auxiliary heating or cooling, which accounts for about 40% of energy use in the average Australian home.
I don’t know about you but we really don’t like power bills! And every year it seems harder and harder to go cut a load of wood.
This energy efficiency is achieved by appropriately orientating your home on its site and carefully designing the building envelope (roof, walls, windows and floors of a home). Well-designed building envelopes minimise unwanted heat gain and loss.
The importance of passive design cannot be underestimated and the most economical time to achieve good passive design is when your in the initially design stages.
However, if your needing to undertake substantial renovations to an existing home this timing can also offer a cost effective opportunity to upgrade and achieve more thermal comfort. Even small upgrades can deliver significant improvements.

I want to buy a home, What do I need to consider?

If you’re buying a new home or apartment, assess its prospects for thermal comfort and/or ability to be cost effectively upgraded to reflect good passive design principles in its climate.

Passive Design Key Strategies

1. Design for climate
In the South West of Western Australia we sit in two zone types 5 – Warm Temperate and 6 – Mild Temperate. Both of these climates present cost effective opportunities to achieve positive outcomes, so make the most of your locations even without the views. To do more reading about zone types and their specific considerations visit
2. Orientation
Orientation refers to the way you place your home on its site to take advantage of climatic features such as sun and cooling breezes.
3. Shading
Shading of your house and outdoor spaces reduces summer temperatures, improves comfort and saves energy.
4. Passive solar heating
Passive solar heating is the least expensive way to heat your home. Put simply, design for passive solar heating keeps out summer sun and lets in winter sun while ensuring that the building envelope keeps that heat inside in winter and allows any built up heat to escape in summer.
5. Passive cooling
Passive cooling techniques need to cool both the house and the people in it — with elements such as air movement, evaporative cooling and thermal mass.
6. Sealing your home
Air leakage accounts for 15–25% of winter heat loss in buildings. Sealing your home against air leaks is one of the simplest upgrades you can undertake to increase your comfort while reducing energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Insulation
Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential for keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer. Another benefit it has is it can help with weatherproofing and soundproofing. Keep in mind, if insulation is to perform as intended then it must be correctly installed.
8. Thermal Mass
Materials like concrete, bricks and tiles have high heat storage capacity and are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass. Use of materials with high thermal mass throughout your home can save significantly on heating and cooling bills, but thermal mass must be used appropriately. Poor use can exacerbate the climate, radiating heat on a hot summer night or absorbing all the heat you produce on a winter night. Good use of thermal mass moderates indoor temperatures by averaging day−night temperature extremes.
9. Glazing
Glazed windows and doors can bring in light and fresh air, but we need to get it right!  Up to 40% of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through glazing
10. Skylights
These can make a major contribution to energy efficiency and comfort. They are an excellent source of natural light, perhaps admitting more than three times as much light as a vertical window of the same size, and can improve natural ventilation. However, they can be a major source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.

Energy House Ratings

The learn more about the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), with its star classifications click here.


Good passive design is critical to achieving a lifetime of thermal comfort, low energy bills and low greenhouse gas emissions.
At White Building Co we pride ourselves in building functional homes, so expect to have us raise suitable passive design strategies with you. Its not a sales pitch its a cost saving initiative. Think Win – Win.