Passive House Buildings for all Climates

Passive House buildings are characterized by particularly high levels of comfort with very low energy consumption. From the outside, Passive House buildings do not differ from conventional buildings, because “Passive House” means a standard and not a particular type of construction.

The Passive House Standard is a design & construction concept that can be applied by anyone; it has withstood testing of performance for over 25 years. It is used and trusted around the world, in all regional climates.

For a building to be considered a Passive House buildings, it must meet a set of criteria that can be achieved by applying the following 5 construction principles in all regional climates. These principles relate to new buildings as well as retrofits.

5 Passive House Principles

Passive House Principles

Buildings can be designed and constructed as Passive House buildings with or without a certification. Non-certified Passive House projects can still be listed in the Passive House project database if they have been modeled in PHPP (Passive House Planning Package) and have a final blower door test based on Passive House Standard requirements.

The advantage of having the project certified is that a third-party certifier verifies the design and PHPP energy model and therefore provides an additional layer of quality control. And, of course, once the building is certified the owner receives a plaque to display at the building

To Zero Net Energy Buildings with the Passive House Standard

To get to zero net energy and beyond, renewable energy has to offset the total energy demand of a building. Any building designed and constructed to the Passive House Standard is an ultra-low energy building and easily converted into a net-zero energy building, by adding on-site renewable energy such as solar panels.

No matter what the building code, if you want a zero net energy building, the Passive House is the simple and proven way to get there. The Standard even gives you a choice in how far you want to go:

  • Passive House Classic: the traditional Passive House, an ultra-energy efficient without renewable energy.

  • Passive House Plus: renewable energy is generated, e.g. from solar panels. Such buildings are said to produce about as much energy as residents consume, at least in an – admittedly somewhat misleading – net calculation over the year;

  • Passive House Premium: far more renewable energy is produced than needed. It is, therefore, a goal for the particularly ambitious: building owners and designers who want to go beyond and provide not only for their own energy needs but that of others as well.

PER Classes

Key Aspects of a Passive House Project

Here are some of the steps that are essential to a successful Passive House project:

  • Preliminary meeting between architect client and passive house consultant (can be architect or seperate professional) to discuss the goals of the building project;
  • Introduction of Passive House design and construction processes and requirements to the WHOLE TEAM;
  • Integraed design session(s) during schematic design with ALL TRADES and STAKEHOLDERS involved to disucss different design and construction of Passive House building for the least possible cost. And, as a bonus, explore sustainable, low carbon impact product options.
  • PHPP modeling starting in schematic design and throughout the project to improve results and address concerns;
  • Training of construction team to address Passive House specific quality requirements.
  • Continuous On-Site inspections to verify and ensure construction is performed to Passive House quality requirements.
  • Administration of the Passive House building certification or at least assurance of successful PHPP modeling and final blower door test with satisfying results.

Additional services required for a Passive House building:

  • Blower door test (Intermediary during the construction process with air leak testing and final report);
    Blower door testing is necessary during construction. This can be done by anybody who has the equipment and understands the procedure required by Passive House. A final blower door test has to be done by an independent third party to record the final result.
  • Thermal bridging calculation;
    If the design is done based on Passive House principles and pertinent design details provided this might not be necessary
  • Manual J/S ‘room-by-room’ model;
    In addition to the PHPP for use in designing heating/cooling systems
  • Fresh air ventilation sizing and schematic level distribution plan;
    Might be covered by the provider of the ventilation system.

 Add-on expenses if proper Passive House certification is wished:  

  • Additional drawings and details as required for the Passive House certification;
  • Certification Fee determined by third-party Passive House Certifier;
  • Sign-up fee with Passive House;
  • Passive House Plaque if certification is pursued.