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What is a Passive House?

The term Passive House or ‘Passivhaus’ refers to a low-energy construction standard developed in the 1990s by Dr Wolfgang Feist of the Passivhaus Institut in Germany. It is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world and the only internationally recognised, performance-based energy standard in construction.

The core focus of the Passive House Standard is to dramatically reduce the requirement for space heating and cooling, whilst also creating excellent indoor comfort levels – allowing for energy related savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and over 75% compared to average new builds. This is primarily achieved by adopting a ‘fabric first’ approach to the design, by specifying high levels of insulation to the thermal envelope with exceptional levels of airtightness and the use of whole house mechanical ventilation instead of/prior to considering expensive ‘renewable’ technologies.

The heating requirement is reduced to the point where a traditional heating system is no longer considered essential. Cooling is also minimised by the same principles and through the use of shading and natural cross-ventilation through open windows during the summer months. An important factor of a Passive House is that they do not conform to any one design style - therefore they can either be of traditional or contemporary design.

How can Passive House requirements be achieved?

• High levels of thermal insulation to external walls, floors & roofs

• Elimination of thermal bridging

• High performance windows and doors

• Excellent level of airtightness

• Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR)

Good planning as well as careful execution of the details is essential in the construction of Passive House buildings to ensure that the high requirements for the building envelope and technology can be met. As a Certified Passive House Designer, we have the additional expertise required to design buildings to the Passive House Standard and would therefore welcome any enquiries in relation to any projects considering it.

© Mark Nelson Architecture

specialising in energy efficient architecture, building design & construction