Passivhaus (Passive House) has become the internationally acknowledged gold standard for sustainable architecture. The first Passivhaus was built in Germany in 1991 and Passivhaus now extends across every continent with over 30,000 completed buildings to date, covering all building types from houses to factories and even renovations to existing buildings. Passivhaus buildings are extremely well insulated with triple glazed windows which keep the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer with a near constant temperature all year round. The air in a Passivhaus never gets stale or stuffy because the ventilation system provides plentiful fresh, pollen and dust free air, meaning a comfortable living environment.
Energy consumption is reduced by around 80-90% compared to a conventional building and Passivhaus buildings perform as designed, unlike many buildings in the UK (including so called eco examples), which can use twice as much energy as predicted! Passivhaus buildings are partly heated passively by capturing the heat of the sun and trapping heat from internal sources such as people and electrical appliances and indeed so little additional heat is required that Passivhaus buildings do not require a conventional heating systems. People joke that you can heat your Passivhaus by simply throwing a party!
Passivhaus buildings often cost more but this is far outweighed by the improvement in comfort and in the long term, the huge savings in utility bills. The Passivhaus Standard is a quality standard and does not dictate a particular method of construction, so masonry, timber, steel or even straw bales are all aceeptable. Passivhaus principals can equally be applied to a renovation project termed EnerPHit.
We design to Passivhaus principles in everything we do to but a pragmatic approach can be taken for new builds and especially retrofit projects when it comes to certification.