What is Passive House?
Passive House is not a brand name, but a construction concept that has proven itself over recent years and represents the next generation of house building.
It is a new building standard that is truly energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and environmentally friendly.
However, a Passivehaus is more than just a low-energy building.
Passive House buildings allow for heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and over 75% compared with average new builds.
In terms of heating oil, Passive House buildings use less than 1.5 litres per square meter of living space per year – far less than typical low-energy buildings. Similar energy savings have been demonstrated in warm climates where buildings require more energy for cooling than for heating.
Passive House buildings are also praised for their high level of comfort. They use energy sources inside the building such as the body heat from the residents or solar heat entering the building – making heating a lot easier.
Appropriate windows with good insulation and a building shell consisting of good insulated exterior walls, roof and floor slab keep the heat in during the winter – and keep it out during the summer.
A ventilation system consistently supplies fresh air making for superior air quality without causing any unpleasant draughts. This is a guarantee for low Radon levels and improves health conditions. A highly efficient heat recovery unit allows for the heat contained in the exhaust air to be re-used.
The vast energy savings in Passive House buildings are achieved by using especially energy efficient building components and a quality ventilation system: There is absolutely no cutting back on comfort. In fact, the level of comfort is considerably increased.
A Passive House has got it all
The Passive House Standard offers a new level of quality pairing a maximum level of comfort both during cold and warm months with reasonable construction costs – something that is repeatedly confirmed by Passive House residents.
Passive House buildings are praised for their efficiency due to their high level of insulation and their airtight design. Another important principle is “thermal bridge free design“: the insulation is applied without any “weak spots” around the whole building so as to eliminate cold corners as well as excessive heat losses. This method is another essential principle assuring a high level of quality and comfort in Passive House buildings while preventing damages due to moisture build-up.
You may have been surprised that sustainability and ecological aspects haven't already been highlighted! Passive House buildings are eco-friendly by definition: They use extremely little primary energy, leaving sufficient energy resources for future generations without causing any environmental damage. The additional energy required for their construction (embodied energy) is rather insignificant compared with the energy they save later on. This seems so obvious that there is no immediate need for additional illustrations. It is worth mentioning though that the Passive House standard provides this level of sustainability for anyone wishing to build a new construction or renovating an older property at an affordable price – A contribution to protecting the environment. These principles are all published and the design tools are now available to all architects.
Are Passive House buildings a good investment? Definitely! Passive House buildings not only save money over the long term, but are surprisingly affordable to begin with. The investment in higher quality building components required by the Passive House Standard is mitigated by the elimination of expensive heating and cooling systems. Additional financial support increasingly available in many countries makes building a Passive House all the more feasible.
Passive House construction technques deliver a “factor 10 house” which only uses one tenth of the energy used by average houses, so the Passive House concept delivers – the savings are real, there is no performance gap.
Any competent architect can design a Passive House building. By combining individual measures, any new building anywhere in the world can be designed to reach the Passive House Standard. The versatile Passive House Standard is also increasingly being used for non-residential buildings such as administrative buildings and schools. Education on the design of Passive House buildings is available on a global level with a lot of different professional trainers.
The Passive House Standard can also be achieved in retrofits, using Passive House-compliant components.
Passive House is a low energy standard by the PHI (Passivhaus Institut). Passive House is a tried and tested solution that gives us a range of proven approaches to deliver net-zero-ready new and existing
buildings, optimised for a decarbonised grid and augmented for occupant health and wellbeing.
Passive House buildings provide a high level of occupant comfort using very little energy for
heating and cooling. They require very high standards of insulation, windows, air tightness,
ventilation and heating sources, which leads to a building with a very low heating demand, with
a comfortable and healthy indoor environment. Passive House adopts a whole-building approach
with clear, measured targets, focused on high-quality construction, certified through an exacting
quality assurance process.
Benefits of Passive House buildings
High levels of comfort due to increased insulation and air tightness
Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery provides constant fresh air, with heat
recovered from extracted air
Long life and durability of the building due to high levels of air tightness and low risk of surface condensation and mould growth
Significantly lower costs to heat
Reduced carbon emissions and impact on the environment