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VIA architecture
@bob marley - insulation and airtight construction helps keep heat out as well as in! And you’re right, shading and cross ventilation are important, provided outdoor air temperatures are cooler than indoor air temperatures. When the outside air is hotter than inside, though, you want to keep most of it out and ventilate through a heat exchange ventilation system to maintain cooler indoor temperatures. You may need cooling, also, but Passive House design will minimise the amount needed.
Although the Passive House standard was created by Swedish & German building physicists, the design software used (PHPP) is precisely climate specific. What works in Germany or other Northern European climates isn’t the same as what works in Australia or NZ. And, as you rightly say, Australia has many different climates, the correct climate data needs to be used for each design. What works for Melbourne will be a bit different in Sydney or Perth or Darwin.... etc. Physics doesn’t change, but climates do and therefore the design and construction needs to change also.
Fires / wood burners in airtight buildings need to be ‘room sealed’ so no smoke enters the house. And the fire needs a dedicated air supply from the outside, either a specific duct or some flues have an integrated air supply.
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Lynette Ludbrook

I live in a passive solar designed house built in the 1965 and extended in 1970. It has minimal windows facing south, all doorways face east, or north. The sun room extension faces northwest, which in Ballarat's cold winters ensures maximum heat gain, whilst eaves are designed to shade out the sun in summer, from north facing windows and doors. Awnings are fitted on east and west facing windows. I do not need any form of summer cooling except for the very exceptional day, where I switch on the ceiling fan. The home is well insulated but, thankfully, not 100 per cent sealed. I actually like to open windows and doors to let in fresh air and have found fully passive designs to be a somewhat oppressive and airless, as the occupants never seem to open anything up. They remain cold in winter in Ballarat, without some form of heating. I have retrofitted argon filled double glazing on all my eastern and south facing windows, costing me many thousands of dollars, as the windows are enormous. My house pretty much runs on solar power system and solar hot water and my power bills are minimal.

I believe a home's orientation in Australia is vital. Having lived in houses with northern orientation I would never be prepared to live in a south facing home again. Sadly most housing design in Australia orientates its entry and often living areas to the street and if that happens to be south facing, residents pay the price.

Cross ventilation, for warm climates and summer is also another bug bear of mine, It is key to comfortable living. Sadly, however, many people are too afraid to sleep with open doors and windows, believing we live in such a dangerous society and world. Good security screens are also essential if people are to make use of cross ventilation!

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Horizon Homes

We are a custom builder that helps clients design and build their dream homes. A critical part of enjoying your home is the solar and cross ventilation aspects of the home. We work at design phase to maximise the light and cross ventilation and use only quality windows/doors and insulation material to help with the passive design. Clients always comment that that is the aspect of the design that has made the most difference to the enjoyment of their home - but it is not always something people consider.

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