What is a passive house?

The passive house is one of the most energy efficient types of “low-energy” building possible using only half of what regular “low-energy” buildings use. Leading new architectural and environmental heights, they are designed to provide a comfortable indoor climate both throughout winter and summer.  Passive houses achieve this, eliminating the need for traditional heating and air conditioning systems, through extensive insulation, such as polyurethane boards, energy efficient windows, low levels of air infiltration and heat recovery ventilation. Heat loss is so limited that a passive house requires only the capacity of an iron to maintain comfortable warmth during winter months.

The passive house uses about 85% less energy than conventional homes, it is the world’s leading standard in energy efficiency construction.

After Sweden and Denmark implemented legally binding “low-energy building” standards in the 1980’s, Professor Bo Adamson developped the”passive house” concept at the University of Lund in 1988, to go beyond “low-energy building” standards taking advantage of the latest innovation in insulation, airtightness, glazing etc. Today, passive houses are the world’s leading standard in energy efficient construction, allowing for reproducibly high energy savings of more than 90 per cent and roughly 85 per cent lower overall energy than conventional new homes; even the maximum energy consumption in passive houses is still significantly lower than the lowest usage in average new buildings. The energy requirement for heating is lower than 10 to 20 kWh / (m²a) (depending on climate), adding up to a low cost of only 10 to 25 € per month. High energy prices, therefore, are no longer a threat to passive house homeowners.

Most entrepreneurs are not yet used to the new technologies and much time and resources have been invested in planning, education and quality assurance. These, however, are simply short-term sacrifices as living in a passive house allows one to save money due to significant gains from energy savings in addition to benefits such as not having to install a radiator system. Their high standards allow them to boast dramatic reductions in energy consumption and zero carbon emissions elevating them above most “low-energy’ buildings.

The first passive house project was completed in 1991 in Darmstadt, Germany. At present there are only 12,000 such houses across Europe located mostly in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia. More passive houses, however, are being constructed every day including in the capital of Europe, Brussels, as a comprehensive approach to cost-efficient, high quality, healthy and sustainable construction.