What is a Passivhaus, and Why is it Good News?

November 8, 2016


You may have come across the term Passivhaus already; if not, you soon will. It’s being hailed as the benchmark for energy-efficiency in the future.

It isn’t an actual structure – it’s a set of standards. The name is German because the standard was drawn up by the Passivhaus Institute at Darmstadt, Germany.

The way it works is this: if you build (or refurbish) a house that has an excellent thermal performance, exceptional airtightness and mechanical ventilation, you can apply for Passivhaus accreditation. It’s like a gold standard in green building.

Image: Architectsjournal.co.uk

Image: Architectsjournal.co.uk

“Passive heat sources like the sun, human occupants, household appliances and the heat from the extract air cover a large part of the heating demand,” says Institute director Wolfgang Feist. “The heat losses of the building are reduced so much that it hardly needs any heating at all.” You can read his comments in full here.

Passivhaus buildings achieve a 75% reduction in space heating requirements, compared to standard practice for UK new build. This goes a long way to achieving the UK government’s target of an 80% reduction in the carbon footprint of buildings. The way it does this is outlined in the graphic above and explained in this article.

This has got to be a good thing, right? If you’re in the building industry, what to YOU think? Please give us your thoughts in the comments box below.


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