Welcome to Superpod®: a new concept in flexible pre-designed low energy housing.
We are an international design house dedicated to helping you get a high performing, low energy house on your block. Here are some answers to your questions!
How do I get a Podhouse®?
Talk to a Superpod® partner to get your own Podhouse® – start with an inquiry through our website.
Find your own builder to become a Superpod® partner builder, or ask us to help you find one.
A Superpod® partner architect will fine tune your requirements and help you get a building permit.
A Superpod® partner passivhaus consultant will be engaged through our partner architects to approve the documents for your site, climate and orientation.
Your Superpod® partner builder will build your house using Superpod® designs, materials, suppliers and installers!
How does a Podhouse® look inside?
The sky is the limit for your interiors!
The unadorned Podhouse® looks slick, industrial, smooth, minimal. Prefinished white steel walls. Prepainted steel beams and columns.
Some people love this look all by itself. Other people want to change the look inside. They want wallpaper, timber paneling, plaster or paint. They want tiles, curtains or lace.
The look of the inside is completely up to you.
What are my Podhouse® window frames made of?
All podhouse®. are built with prefinished materials, including the window frames.
We recommend uPVC windows – usually white – for your podhouse®. These windows frames are made in Germany – they are extremely popular in Europe. Their performance for keeping temperatures controlled is amazing!
For the tech heads, they have a low U value (calculated through European methods not American or Australian).The American or Australian U value is not relevant for passivhaus physics models. The lower the U value, the better. (It means they don’t transmit heat quickly.)
Not just any window frame will be good enough. We make sure your window frames meet the passivhaus standard because the Passivhaus Institute requires European data sheets for the product.
That way, the passivhaus calculations will all be correct.
What is the glass in my Podhouse® windows?
The glass in your Podhouse® will be triple or double glazed with a coating on one or more panes of glass, and with argon in between the glass.
The glass will have a low U value (calculated through European methods not American or Australian). The Australian or American U value is not relevant for a passivhaus physics models.
The glass will allow for solar heat gain where required too. Passive house requires specific numbers for that (SHGC for short). For example, you might need an SHGC of .6 or more. Again, the American or Australian method of calculating SHGC is not relevant.
Not just any glass will be good enough. Not just any double or triple glazed window will do.
We make sure your window glass meets the passivhaus standard because the Passivhaus Institute requires European data sheets for the product.
That way the passivhaus calculations will all be correct.
How do the Podhouse® windows open?
In a Superpod® Podhouse® the windows open inwards. They are called “tilt and turn” windows and are used around the world.
They are better than old fashioned awning windows because they can open just at the top, allowing warm air to get out of the house from where it naturally rises. Or you can open them sideways too.
They also seal very well – much better than many other types of window. For example, sliding windows and louvre windows do not seal properly. That’s why we use windows you can really close – so you control your indoor environment properly.
Why does the Podhouse® have external blinds, shutters or overhangs?
In some climates your podhouse® will need external shades. It is better to have window shades on the outside of the house so that you can ‘stop the sun from hitting the glass’.
For a passivhaus, particularly in climates where we like our windows and it gets hot, window shades and overhangs are very important.
You have options with external shades from roller blinds to roller shutters. With roller shutters, you have the advantage of extra security and fire resistance too.
With external blinds or shutters, you don’t need any internal curtains or blinds at all. It’s up to you of course, but they will not be necessary for the performance of the building.
So when you’re comparing the cost of a Superpod® with other types of houses, remember to calculate the cost of installing internal curtains or blinds in your other options.
How much energy does a passivhaus use?
A passivhaus, according to the Passive House Institute, brings space heating and cooling savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock. That means you only use 10% of the energy you may have otherwise used to heat and cool your house.
This performance would be ensured for a “certified” passivhaus – one that has been certified as compliant after it is built. That’s because you can be sure the builder followed the design and the building is well sealed from leaks or drafts.
If you are looking for a low energy (low E) house, and if you really want a fast build too, you can’t go past a passive house design and you won’t do better for a low energy building envelope than a Superpod®.
What does passivhaus mean?
Passivhaus means that the house is designed and constructed with a very high technical standard so that the house temperature is controlled and air is kept fresh through minimal energy use.
It is active, even aggressive, design and construction according to the Passive House Institute’s building physics modelling and calculations.
This international technical standard is based on building physics and calculates energy use by reference to many things like: volume of the building, shape, materials, window frames, climate, orientation, insulation, thermal bridges, airtightness and connection details.
That means the performance of the building skin itself, together with an air ventilation system, ensures that the temperature is much more even all year round.
It does this by capturing ‘naturally’ occurring heat like body heat from occupants, hot water, appliances, sun shining through the windows, and cooking.
And in summer it keeps the heat out much better than traditional buildings.
You should not need central heating if you build a passivhaus, you should only need a small heating source.
You can minimise or avoid air conditioning, depending on your climate, if you build a passivhaus.
How does passivhaus combat climate change?
30-40% of the world’s carbon emissions come from inefficient buildings. Buildings with thin, poor insulation, thin glass and poor window frames, bad joints, leaks and drafts are very inefficient to run.
You need lots of equipment and energy to keep occupants comfortable when it’s hot or cold outside.
But all that energy is wasted when it disappears straight out the walls, windows, floors and gaps of the house.
Generating energy creates carbon emissions. Carbon emissions create global warming. Therefore, properly designed and constructed buildings, complying with passivhaus standards, use much less energy to keep us comfortable, reduce carbon emissions, and combat climate change.
How many passivhaus buildings are there in the world?
There are over 25,000 certified passivhaus buildings in the world. That means they have been certified through the International Passive House Institute.
There were no certified passivhaus houses in Australia as at June 2014. Later in 2014 we had three! More to come.
There are many passive houses which are not certified – but they are not recorded centrally anywhere and their design is not necessarily verified. Some passive houses have complied with the international passive house standard in almost every detail. Other passive houses take that name from a few passive house elements such as good insulation.
What’s the difference between a passive house and a certified passivhaus?
The term ‘passive house’ can mean many things. It can mean any kind of building element which operates ‘passively’ – without using ‘active’ energy generation systems to heat and cool the house. A passivhaus design is one which uses the Passivhaus Institute calculations, used in a spreadsheet called the PHPP, to design and construct a high performing low energy building. This means that insulation, windows, connection details, etc are all taken into account.
A passivhaus design has all joints assessed for their ‘thermal bridge’ or psi value, and the number of bridges is included in the spreadsheet.
It is comprehensive, wholistic and rigorous. A passivhaus follows the design principles and construction details of the Passivhaus Institute to the letter!
A certified passivhaus is designed following specific design principles and calculation methodologies. It even includes extra details like what appliances will be used in the house! The certified passivhaus will only be certified once every detail is nominated and assured, and once the house is built and satisfies an airtightness test. This way the exact energy use can be calculated, predicted and verified.
Why don’t you certify all passive houses?
Certification can only be done by engaging an overseas approved certifier. For certification the level of detail required is meticulous. Detailed design and construction supervision will verify that the construction follows the design.
A non-certified passive house may still give you much better performance than a typical house. And many people are keen for such an energy saving. But you may not know how much energy you will need unless you certify. It depends on your reasons for not pursuing certification.
At Superpod® we believe that houses should be designed using the PHPP so that all the building physics calculations are done with the nominated products in mind. If the building is designed and constructed correctly, it may not be necessary to achieve certification. On the other hand, certification gives you final peace of mind as to the energy use required for the life of the house.
Why certify my passivhaus?
Certification gives you the certainty of meeting the standard of energy use nominated by the Passivhaus Institute (for example, less than 1.5 litres of heating oil per square meter of living space per year). It means that the standards in every detail of your design and construction have been approved by an approved overseas certifier.
How do I know my Podhouse® will follow the passivhaus principles?
A passivhaus follows the design principles of the Passivhaus Institute.
We have designed the Superpod® Podhouse® system following passivhaus principles by using a complex spreadsheet called “PHPP”, developed by the International Passivhaus Institute.
Your house design and layout will be reviewed and modified as needed by our partner consultants.
We rely on the International Passivhaus standard spreadsheet and calculations which have been used and improved since the 1990’s!
Thousands of passivhaus buildings around the world have been proven to work!
If you want to be sure that your podhouse® will comply with the passivhaus standard, including assessment of all your lighting and appliances, you will want to apply for certification.
Even if you don’t choose to certify, a Superpod® partner passivhaus consultant will assess your design to ensure it meets passivhaus principles for your site. You will have advice input into the design, but you may not get a certificate for the building itself.
Can I change the details in my Podhouse®?
You can change or add to many things in your Podhouse® – but the construction details are very specific and need to be followed to the letter! If you want to change construction details or materials used in your Podhouse®, you could seriously compromise the house’s performance. Some details are absolutely crucial!
Any changes would need to be approved by Superpod® partner passivhaus consultants.
How do I put pictures up in my Podhouse®?
You can put pictures up in your Podhouse® by having a track and picture wire attached to the beams running around the walls of each pod.
You should avoid puncturing the external walls of your house.
Puncturing through the walls creates thermal bridges which affect the performance of your building.
Can I change the windows later in my Podhouse®?
You can change windows after your Podhouse® is built, but if you do that without having the design reviewed, you risk losing your passivhaus status. That means that the performance of the building could be compromised.
Windows are the eye to the passivhaus soul.
How good is the insulation in my Podhouse®?
Your Podhouse® walls are insulated to a much higher level than standard buildings. Depending on your country the passivhaus standard could be double or triple your local code requirements.
What about acoustic insulation in my Podhouse®?
Your Podhouse® walls are designed to control temperature rather than noise. If you want extra acoustic performance, to soften noise transmission, you can apply internal layers on the walls where needed. You might find that you just don’t need it, particularly because the building is airtight.
Acoustic consultants and suppliers can assist for extra sound proofing measures.
How flexible is the Podhouse® design?
The design of a Podhouse® is flexible like a lego set.
You can have one pod, two pods, three, six or ten, etc. You can line them up, stagger them and stack them.
For residential housing, you can’t change the size or shape of the pods, and you can’t change the roofline. This is essentially an “off the shelf” product.
For multi-level or commercial applications, the Superpod® facade framing system will be engineered separately for each project.
Do you need to paint the walls of your podhouse®?
You do not need to paint your Podhouse®. All Podhouses are built with prefinished materials. The walls, inside and out, the roof, the windows and doors, are all prefinished.
You can choose to paint if you want to.
Some might think, no need for extra painting. It’s up to you!
How high are the ceilings in my Podhouse®?
All residential Podhouse® ceilings are 2.8m on an angle up to 3.3m within each “pod”. But if you have a pod within a pod or pods stacked on top of pods, the ceiling can be 2.4m.
Do you need triple glazed windows in a passivhaus?
It depends on the climate of your land, the way the house faces, the rest of the materials in your house, the amount of glass, the size of the house and its shape.
In many areas where the climate is mild or warm, low E double glazed windows are likely to be enough. But triple glazed windows generally perform better and can be cost effective.
Can you redesign the frame into a different shape?
At Superpod® we have invested in design of simple connectable shapes or pods, so you can have a big or small house made up of those pods.
You have flexibility to use those pods like lego blocks, or a meccano set.
Rather than change the shape of each pod frame, or design a house from scratch, what we give you is an ‘off the shelf’ design for residential housing.
That way you make great savings of both time and money.
What special expertise is needed to put up my Podhouse®?
Specialist contractors have the know-how to work with your builder and help to construct the building envelope in days.
The rest of the building process such as site works, concrete slab, services, cabinetry, will be organised by your builder in the usual way.
The frame, windows, doors, roof and walls need input from specialists such as steel fabricators and approved Kingspan® installers, also builders who have done special training such as passivhaus training, panel construction training, and Superpod® induction.
How do I know my Podhouse® will be built to the design?
You want to feel assured that your podhouse® is actually built according to the Superpod® standard. That’s why specialist contractors are involved, and that’s why certification is offered by the Passivhaus Institute.
Your builder will receive training in the construction methodology, and will collect photos and documentary evidence to meet the standards. After the construction report is obtained, and a blower door test is arranged, (to make sure your building is well sealed), your passivhaus consultant can verify that the Superpod® passivhaus standard has been met.
You will get a certificate and plaque for the wall.
Why doesn’t Superpod® require extra sustainability products like solar panels?
At Superpod® we believe that you can’t start talking about sustainability until you deal with the performance of the building envelope. Superpod® is based on the international passivhaus standard, which requires these elements:
- extremely high performing insulation for walls and roof;
- extremely high performing windows;
- minimal thermal bridges (holes or conductive materials between outside and inside);
- a well sealed building;
- an air ventilation system for constant fresh air and comfortable temperatures
Not only do you save on the cost of a central heating system, but the ongoing cost of heating is all but eradicated. And the cost of air conditioning is minimised if not eradicated too, depending on whether you are in a hot climate. This represents a massive energy and cost saving and sustainability benefit.
There is nothing to stop you using extra sustainability features like solar panels or water tanks. And there are plenty such products on the market.
But extra sustainability products, things that don’t affect the building shell, and things that produce renewable energy, are not necessary for a passivhaus.
Why create energy for an inefficient building? We focus on reducing energy consumption through design
of efficient buildings.
What does Superpod® look like on the outside?
Superpod® does not compromise on good, visually pleasing design for a liveable space. Most people do not want to live in a relocatable box. People like good design – just look at the popularity of the Grand Designs series.
So we took key architectural elements like high ceilings, tall doors and chic industrial features, and made them an integral part of the Podhouse®. Think of the Aussie corrugated iron shed, think vintage industrial, think “Mad Men” modernist design. It is simple and fresh with clean lines and liberal use of white.
But you can change the look too. You can add different facades (subject to passivhaus compliance approval). You can reference a period home or use natural earthy elements like timber panels and stone walls.
Why does my Podhouse® need an air ventilation system?
Your podhouse® needs an air ventilation system because the house is so well sealed and insulated, that fresh air needs to be mechanically pumped into the house at the same time as stale moist air being removed.
Air ventilation systems (in winter, heat recovery systems) are an essential part of every passive house.
No more drafts, no more discomfort, clean comfortable stable air temperatures like no other house gives you – all year round.
You can still open the windows too, of course, for natural ventilation in the normal way.
How much will my Podhouse® cost?
Superpod® is designed to be built on site. Just like any house there are site costs which will vary. For example, how far is your house from the street? How far is your block from a central town? Every podhouse® will be a bit different depending on labour costs and position, just like a normal house.
Other variables will of course be your internals. Cupboards, wardrobes, kitchens and bathrooms will all depend on your taste and budget!
It’s been estimated that a passivhaus in Australia might cost 30-50% more than a traditional house. In Europe passive houses also cost a little more than traditional houses, although passivhaus methods are better understood and traditional cold-climate houses use better insulation and more stringent construction methods, anyway so the cost differential is less.
With Superpod®, our superior materials, fast build time, and clever design will make our innovative passivhaus design more affordable than if you were designing from scratch. We expect the costs to be comparable some high quality modular houses, and similar to or less than a custom architect-designed house.
Of course, in remote locations, the speed of construction will bring much bigger cost savings. And for high rise construction projects, the passive house system will save you money in construction, partly because your plant investment will be lower. Your builder will easily estimate your site-specific fees.
Remember, when you do cost comparisons, you will not need traditional central heating in the Superpod®, you won’t have a fireplace, in cooler states you will not need aircon, you will have an air ventilation unit which costs the same as a light bulb to run, and in warmer climates you will have external blinds or shutters which reduce the need for curtains.
The fast build time means you save on rental costs and the valuable cost of your time during the build.