TreeHugger loves Passive House, and loves Tiny House, loves 3D printing and hates zombies. So of course we are going to be fans of the PassivDom, a 36m2 (387 SF) design from Ukrainian engineer Max Gerbut and his team that has a lot of interesting features.
PassivDom is an Ukrainian technological startup “Passive House Ukraine”. We produce autonomous self-learning module houses made using 3D-Printing. PassivDom is the first totally autonomous house in the world that doesn’t need any fuel combustion even in Arctic climate conditions. The module uses only ecologically clean solar energy for all inhabitants’ needs: climate control (heating and cooling), water generation, air quality and oxygen control. The house itself produces electricity for all household appliances.
That’s an impressive description! It seems to actually exist, with a working prototype. It is apparently built with a 3D printed carbon-reinforced fibreglass frame with vacuum panel insulation and they claim it meets the very tough Passivhaus or Passive House standard, which is going to be particularly hard with so much glazing. However they claim that the windows are “a unique development of the PassivDom team. The warmest mass-produced windows in the world.”
The solar panels on the roof and the lithium phosphate batteries provided provide enough energy for “2 weeks of absolute autonomous work in conditions of TOTAL sun absence.”
That is one of the benefits of Passive House design- it uses so little energy and is so well insulated that it can go a few weeks without heating. But it is also really hard to nail Passive House numbers in a smaller unit, making this even more impressive it they pull it off. They say it “corresponds all requirements of certification of residential buildings Passivhaus Institut” but doesn’t appear in the Passivhaus database yet. Interestingly, it does appear in the database of another certification system, ActiveHouse website, where they give some technical data:
It has the lowest heat loss in the world among residential buildings — from 18.6 W/°C. Costs for heating and air conditioning are less than 8 kWh/m² per year. The thermal conductivity of the material of the walls amounts to lambda value = 0.018 W/m²K. Windows in PassivDom exceed at least twice all the best windows in the world in heat and noise insulation characteristics: today U-value performance up to 0.23 W/m²K. Such a complex and layered glazing allows to realize complete impermeability and bring glazing facade area — to the value of 50%.
Very impressive numbers in a really impressive package; the top-of-the-line autonomous package comes complete with appliances, furniture, water tanks and a sewage system, right down to the coffee maker. “The home is fully autonomous and includes a self-sufficient power system (solar panels, batteries, inverters), independent water supply (water storage, powerful purification system, and independent sewage).” - all for 59,900 euros ( US$ 63,718 and falling). Given the price of vacuum insulation panels and carbon fiber reinforced plastic structure, it feels seriously underpriced. In fact it is half the price of the MiniHome I was trying to sell a decade ago, which was far less sophisticated.
There is even a “zombie apocolypse”upgrade package that comes with stronger panels, armoured glazing, an alarm system, an increased supply of toilet paper and a bible.
It is a sensible plan, with a comfortable layout and a decent sized bathroom. At 4 meters (13’) wide one is not going to be towing this around like a trailer, but it is narrow enough to be legally moved down most roads.
It is an impressive package that raises a few questions; some of the numbers, like those of window performance, seem impossibly high. The site contains many photos of other projects, Like this one of a Mountain Lodge on Sognefjorden by Haptic that was taken from Dezeen, which is often a sign of vaporware.
I also have some questions about how their systems work; I have written to the designers and will update this post when they reply. Read more at Passivdom.