By Fazeena Saleem
DOHA: The first energy-efficient Passive House in Qatar is set to open its doors to occupants in August, says a senior official.
The experiment project by Qatar Green Building Council in partnership with Barwa Real Estate company and Kahramaa is an outstanding sample, Dr Alex Amato, (pictured) Head of Sustainability, QGBC, told this daily.
A passive house (Passivhaus in German) is an ultra low energy building design that requires little energy for space heating or cooling, reducing its environmental footprint.
The passive house project, Baytna (our home) in Arabic, was launched in 2012.
Under it, two 225sqm villas were built side by side for a comparative study on benefits of the Passivhaus design in Qatar’s hot and arid climate. Both will be occupied by families for the experiment at Barwa City in Mesaimeer.
The conventional villa is built to a one-star Global Sustainability Assessment System standard whereas the Passivhaus villa will consume 50 percent less energy and water, resulting in halving carbon footprint.
“We are expecting tenants to go in the autumn, some time in August. The experiment goes on for five years,” says Amato.
On the selection of tenants, he said, “We want people who have an interest in sustainability but who are representative of a family in Qatar.
“We want them to be normal and we will compare results of energy modelling we have done. So there after we try and find ways to optimise,” he added.
The passive house study seeks to establish if an eco-friendly villa can be a viable building option.
“This is a new experiment, and it’s unusual to find two houses side by side, one acting as a control. If it proceeds as an experiment, it should be one of the leading experiments in the world,” said Amato.
Estimates of the number of Passivhaus buildings around the world in late 2008 ranged from 15,000 to 20,000 structures. As of August 2010, there were about 25,000 such certified structures of all types in Europe, while in the US, there were 13, with a few dozen more under construction.
The vast majority of passive structures have been built in German-speaking countries and Scandinavia.
“Passive house is a particular type, and it’s an extreme. The concept of the Passive house might not be the right one for Qatar. We think it is, but one must remember that Passive house concept originated in continental Europe and is designed for a cold climate, nevertheless it could be applicable to Qatar in the region — then again the extremes of temperature,” said Amato.
“I think is what may be are more green houses, villas, which have much reduced carbon foot print. And I think there will be number of those in the near future.
“Some will be experimental and some will be developed by owners who have an interest in sustainability and want to demonstrate that they are committed,” suggested Amato.