Ice Box Challenge

Passive house triumphs in Ice Box Challenge

As part of the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne, the Australian Passive House Association (APHA) ran the Ice Box Challenge to test the performance of a passive house – and the results are in!

The challenge showcased two small cabins, one built to the local building code and one to the passive house standard, each filled with 720kg of ice. The public was invited to observe the progress and try to guess how much ice would be left after 12 days.

Digital thermometers were also set up to show the difference between the internal temperatures. On the scorching day when HVAC&R News visited the iceboxes – set up on the corner of the Queen Victoria Market – the passive house was at 17°C, while the building code box was at 42°C.

Readings over the 12 days confirmed that the passive house box was consistently at least 10°C cooler than outdoors, while the building code box was rarely more than 5°C cooler than outdoors.

As for the challenge itself, the ice in the building code box melted in 10 days. In the passive house box there were 143kg of ice remaining at the end of 12 days.

“We are extremely pleased with how it all went,” says recently appointed APHA CEO Paul Wall. “The Ice Box Challenge was a fantastic way to show people the superior performance of certified passive house buildings. Having it in such a prominent location and the visual nature of the challenge really captured the message, with a great deal of interest generated. We received very favourable feedback and responses from the public.

“The results were just what we’d hoped for too,” says Wall. “It confirms the advantages of the passive house standard over the Australian building code.

“We thank the dedicated group of volunteers who were instrumental in making the event such a success.”

APHA is planning on touring the challenge around Australia to highlight the advantages of passive house design.

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