In recent years Malaysia has seen an increase in energy dependency, particularly in the residential part. Together, with commercial buildings, they consume more than half of the country’s generated energy. The biggest consumption is from the air conditioning facility in households which is around 21% of all energy consumption,after that comes electric fans that use about 2% of this amount. Taking into account the significant amount of electricity spent on cooling houses, it is important to reduce energy consumption in buildings via passive means. That’s a reason passive houses are getting more popular everyday.
Passive houses are usually single-family and are a trendy architectural solution to the problem of energy consumption. They are self-sustaining homes, which means that their energy consumption depends on natural sources. Make the most of natural resources and respect the environment both during construction and when built. The Sun is undoubtedly an essential element, as it depends on the lighting and heating of the place.
In addition, appliances should be low-energy to not spend more energy than necessary. Water is also an important factor, as rainwater is collected and recycled as much as possible. This is the beginning of these homes, everything that can be saved and reused.
One such building which belongs in the residential and/or commercial sector is the “shophouse”. In Malaysia, it is relatively common to find shophouses, especially in the state of Penang. There are around 7000 units in this state alone. Many of Penang’s shophouses were built in the 19th and 20th century.The original design of the Penang heritage shophouses is suggested to be influenced not only by the prevalent colonial and Chinese influence of the time, but also the hot and humid character of Penang’s local climate. So it includes some key design elements such as stylized columns and arches, most of the original shophouses have large entrances, louvered doors and sheltered hallway and walkways which can be called five foot-way. These are all part of an integrated design which responds to the need of solar shading and passive cooling. Other features such as jack-roofs and air wells can also be found in some of the buildings.
Energy saving: Own energy must be generated, for example through solar panels. but the home must also be properly located to save energy in both heating and lighting.
Saving water: As we have discussed, water is an essential factor. Devices that economize the use of water and control it must be installed.
Materials: The chosen materials should be as natural and local as possible as their transport should have a low impact on the environment. In addition, avoid contaminating materials, such as plastic. These rules not only affect building materials but also decoration, painting, furniture and etc.
Ventilation: The windows should allow drafts of air to avoid using the air conditioning in hot days.
Insulation and heating: If home is not well insulated, heating expenses will increase, which will damage the environment and your pocket. The passive house should be warm in winter and cool in summer.
Weather: If you need your passive house to be built in the shortest possible time, it is best to use materials that can be manufactured in a local workshop.
Price: We must think both the price of the raw material and the cost of labor. Also if we want brick we will need at least one expert operator who will need days to place each piece. However, if we choose concrete we will have to rely on transport from the cement factory or if we decide the wood can be assembled in a few hours, but it could be more expensive.
Availability: The decision to use of a specific material should depend on the location of the place itself. As we have said, the most important principle of these homesis to take advantage of the natural available resources. For example, in Malaysia, it is advisable to use wood as it is easily accessible.
Passive houses follow the same idea as ecological houses; however, passive houses have an important technological difference. A passive house is able to expel moisture or to absorb heat without having to open any windows. That is to say, it is designed to consume the minimum of energy obtaining a comfortable temperature.
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