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Benefits of the Passive House Approach

Certified Passive House projects typically demonstrate: 

  • Temperature and Humidity Stability – despite extremes in outdoor conditions.  Temperature stratification is also minimised due to a fabric-first approach to design.
  • Air Quality and Comfort - very high air-quality measurements. Occupants typically report high levels of comfort.
  • Low Energy - recorded savings of more than 90% in energy bills compared to modern conventional buildings 
  • High Quality – independent external certification of build quality, a focus on the use of high-quality high-performance components, and review of critical issues such as moisture management.
  • Affordable – very low energy usage requirements that often rapidly offset additional build-costs.
  • Environmentally Responsible – close attention to primary energy demand and dramatic reductions in energy usage bring significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Significant Advances Internationally in Building Physics 

  • Over the last 25 years there have been major advances in building physics that significantly challenge many of our prevailing assumptions and practices. Some of these advances have been reflected in building standards and energy rating systems, however, there is significant variability around ratings frameworks, and often evidence of a significant performance gap between modelled and actual results. 
  • After considerable research and outcome monitoring, some building physics approaches have developed tools and approaches that close this performance gap and demonstrate a close correlation between modelling and actual building performance. One of the most well known is the German Passive House approach.

The Passive House Approach

  • The Passive House approach uses a specialist energy balance and design tool to calculate building performance and identifies a set of criteria including space heating and cooling demand, primary energy demand, airtightness and thermal comfort levels. Adjustments can then be made, within the model, to building components and characteristics to ensure that the building meets the specified criteria. 

  • Particular attention is given to insulation values, window performance, form- factor, climate data, airtightness, the reduction of thermal bridges, and the use of heat recovery ventilation, however, no additional limitations are imposed on particular building products, construction methods or architectural styles. 

  • The Passive House Institute recognises passive house projects that have completed a rigorous modelling, testing and build-documentation process as 'Certified Passive Houses'. This independent certification protects against the performance gap, and provides a guarantee that the building will perform as modelled. There are several categories of Passive House compliance.
  • Many thousands of Passive House commercial buildings, public buildings (museums, offices, factories, schools) and homes have been built in climate zones around the world. Depending upon architectural style and construction approach some of these buildings have been built at a cost comparable to standard construction, whilst others have cost marginally more. In many cases the additional cost has been justified through dramatically reduced operating costs.