The town of Gambshelm, Aslace (France) has seen the construction of the world’s first Europassive® house. Europassive® is a new low-energy standard created by architectural and planning firm KMO, based in Bouxwiller, just outside of Strasbourg.
Vincent Kempf, owner of KMO and Europassive® project manager explains that he wanted to develop and focus on existing certified Passivhaus standards. “We wanted to combine the most demanding energy efficient criteria with the latest innovations. This applied to all construction aspects of the building, living comfort, as well as ensuring protection of the surrounding environment with a strong visual appearance.”
The Europassive® concept combines ecological responsibility with high profitability and excellent quality. It also emphasises optimised user comfort and a team of contractors who also embrace these values. KMO prides itself on paying particular attention to high-quality and reliable construction. Building owners can therefore enjoy high energy efficiency, a rapid return on investment and minimal energy, utility and maintenance costs. The materials used are deployed sparingly and intelligent waste management on the construction site benefits the environment in the long term. Europassive® buildings use wooden construction and contain lots of bio-based materials, such as animal wool for insulation.
In addition to the homes’ technical specification, the designers wanted the people living in them to feel at home. The homeowners wanted a bright, spacious detached house with a living room spread over two floors. The south-facing glass façade ensures a high level of natural daylight enters the building. Thanks to its sophistication and excellent design features, the detached home boasts comfortable room temperatures in both winter and summer. The building has already been put through its paces: “Even in the scorching heat of last summer, the internal temperature only rose to 25°C”, reported the owners proudly.
The build was not without its challenges: the specification in the land use plan was complex, as were the plot groundwork conditions and the homeowner’s requirements. The parameters for Passivhaus certification were also strict. It was important for the project to not use traditional heating sources, as the optimally insulated building envelope ensures the heat of the house does not escape outside. The heat that the inhabitants, devices and solar light is enough for pleasant indoor temperatures.
Kempf emphasises: “On any Passivhaus project we work to gain as much heat as possible from sunlight – and to prevent the building overheating in the summer”. The project works to a bioclimatic concept where the construction of the building takes into consideration protecting both the environment and the ecosystem on site. This meant that all tradesmen and contractors involved, including those working on electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing and even the timber construction frame company came from the surrounding area.
The property is constructed from wood, including the base plate. The plate sits on 27 metal brackets, which are placed on the load-bearing concrete columns. This design ensures better insulation of the building in comparison to a reinforced concrete base plate.
Thermal insulation challenges included any cold bridges surrounding the windows and glass façade. The north and east sides of the property have only a few window openings, but the south side is almost completely glazed, allowing for sunlight to come far into the interior during the winter for warmth.
Careful selection of the glazing components was crucial to ensure maximum energy efficiency and thermal comfort. The glass façade consists of triple-glazed insulating glass with a U-value of 0.5 W/m2K and a light transmittance of 61%. In summer, external solar protection prevents overheating of the interior and the ventilation system with heat recovery creates a pleasant indoor climate. Manual ventilation is possible only through the doors – all windows in the property as well as the façade have fixed glazing.
SWISSPACER ULTIMATE warm edge spacer bars are fitted throughout the triple glazing. One of the market-leading spacer bars, ULTIMATE provides an excellent isolated edge composite – with Psi values up to 0.029 W/mK and a correspondingly low U–value for windows and façades.
For Vincent, SWISSPACER’s high thermal quality and its visual aesthetics were important factors when choosing the spacer bar. “SWISSPACER ULTIMATE brings the performance we demand for Europassive®. Its dark matte surface is ‘easy on the eye’ in the background and underlines the simple elegance of the building.”