Passive Designing

When you are thinking of building a home, you’ll come across the term passive design. ‘Passive design’ in architecture is when design takes advantage of the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range in the home. Essentially it is about designing a home to be the most energy-efficient it can be right from the get-go

The key elements of passive design include the building location and orientation on the site,  insulation and window design. These elements work with others to achieve a passive design creating a home with the climate in mind.

Building location & orientation on the site

Orientation refers to the positioning of a building in relation to the climate, the sun’s path as well as the wind patterns of the site. Good orientation can increase the energy efficiency of your home, making it more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run. Orientation for passive heating is about making use of the sun as a source of free home heating. This is done by letting winter sun in and keeping unwanted summer sun out which is what most kiwis want out of their new home.

The site

If you’re looking to achieve the best results for passive solar performance at minimal cost, you’ll need to check the site and make sure it has the right characteristics. Where possible, choose a site that can accommodate north-facing daytime living areas that flow to outdoor spaces with similar orientation


Insulation isn’t actually a source of heat; it acts as a barrier to heat flow. It reduces heat loss in winter to keep the house warm and reduces heat gain in summer to keep the house cool. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are the leading causes of heat loss in homes. When thinking about insulation, it’s crucial that you think of the ceiling, under the floor, the walls and the windows. The angle of the sun changes throughout the year, so a well-designed home can let in the sun in the winter while blocking it in the summer. Don’t worry, our architect can work with you to ensure the design of your new home is optimised for passive heating and cooling.

Window design

Windows are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to omnificent energy uses in older houses. They let in the light and fresh air from the outdoors; however, they can be the culprit to heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer if they haven’t been designed correctly. We won’t bother you with the nitty-gritty details of where the windows should be placed as our architects will walk you through that. However, we recommend going for double glazing glass in your new home to ensure your windows work as well as they can in your quest for lower energy costs.

If you think you are ready to create a passively designed home and reduce those monthly energy bills, feel free to get in touch with us via our contact us page, or download our free design and build eBook to learn more about 3C Homes and how we can help you build your dream home.