The Ice Box Challenge was a visual representation of the effectiveness of passive house design elements, presented as a collaborative effort from iPHA, Glasgow City Council, Passive House Institute, Edinburgh Napier University, Passivhaus Trust and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.

The display consisted of two small houses, placed side-by-side in Glasgow, Scotland’s city square. One house was built by standard Scottish building code, while the other implemented four of five passive house design elements. Each structure was filled with the same amount of ice, which was measured at the end of an established period.

The results were undeniable, with the ice melting completely in the standard house within 11 days. Viewers could see the ice void days before the final measurements. In contrast, the passive house still had two large blocks of ice. In the end, the passive house still had 121kg of the original 917 kg of ice placed two weeks prior, even with unseasonably warm weather.

This demonstration highlights the effectiveness of energy-saving passive design elements since no active cooling systems were allowed. Passive design incorporates five standard elements to significantly reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling. This not only reduces the use of limited environmental resources but saves money for the homeowner too.

For this challenge, the homes looked nearly identical from the outside, but the passive house relied on window glazing, insulation levels, airtightness and reduced thermal bridges for keeping out the summer heat and maintaining a cool and comfortable interior. Due to the nature of the competition, the passive house didn’t include the fifth element of passive design — a ventilation system with heat recovery — which adds to the energy efficiency of the construction.

The passive home standard is becoming increasingly more common in projects developed by the Glasgow City Council and local housing associations. Michelle Mundie from the Housing Investment Group at Glasgow City Council says, “Housing associations in Glasgow are looking at this very closely and what it means to new build programmes. For tenants it means more comfortable homes with lower running costs.”

Ice Box Challenge

Off-Grid Living Systems

Water | Power | Waste Water Treatment | Heating/Cooling

The systems of a building. These are the systems that go into the structural shell of the building for occupancy. Some or all of these systems can be used instead of the conventional methods to provide utilities to buildings. This can make the build more sustainable, secure and healthy than only using conventional utilities.

All systems can have automated conventional backups. All systems can be added to existing conventional buildings as a renovation project.

Living with sustainable off-grid systems enhances our lives, secures our lives and is a better investment than conventional buildings.

This increases both psychological and physiological comfort.

Off-Grid Builders, Earthship Home Designs

Pangea Design | Build is an educational and research organization providing sustainable buildings for residential, commercial and government use. We are specialists in Modern Off-Grid Designs, Systems and Construction.

We are dedicated to high quality, super efficient and skilled craftsmanship. Our primary goal is to provide buildings that are as sustainable as possible and as affordable as possible. We value the opportunity to work with you. Our services are based on many decades of experience on all kinds of buildings, systems and lifestyles. We offer standard designs and custom designs to make your dreams come true.

Note: We design and build all over the USA and around the world.