Tag: passive house

Architecture & Building

The Future of Sustainable Living: Exploring Passive Houses

In an era marked by growing concerns over climate change and depleting natural resources, the quest for sustainable living solutions has gained unprecedented momentum. Among these solutions, passive houses have emerged as a pioneering concept, setting new standards for energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly architecture. With a commitment to reducing energy consumption, minimizing carbon footprints, and enhancing indoor comfort, passive houses represent a paradigm shift towards a more sustainable future.

What are Passive Houses?

Passive houses, also known as Passivhaus in German, are a cutting-edge architectural concept that prioritizes energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Through a combination of innovative design, meticulous construction techniques, and advanced technologies. The primary objective of passive houses is to drastically reduce the need for conventional heating and cooling systems. Leading to significantly lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Key Principles of Passive Houses

  1. Superb Insulation: Passive houses are built with an emphasis on insulation. High-quality insulation materials are used in walls, roofs, and floors to prevent heat transfer. Thereby maintaining a stable indoor temperature regardless of external weather conditions.
  2. Airtight Construction: To minimize energy losses and drafts, passive houses are constructed with airtight building envelopes. This prevents cold air infiltration and heat escape, contributing to consistent indoor temperatures.
  3. High-Performance Windows and Doors: Passive houses feature specially designed windows and doors with advanced glazing. This offers exceptional thermal insulation while allowing optimal daylight penetration.
  4. Heat Recovery Ventilation: A key feature of passive houses is mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). This system efficiently exchanges stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. Recovering heat from the outgoing air to warm the incoming air.
  5. Solar Gain and Orientation: Passive houses are strategically oriented to maximize solar gain during colder months. Utilising the sun’s energy for heating. Additionally, shading elements can be integrated to prevent overheating in warmer months.

Benefits of Passive Houses

  1. Remarkable Energy Savings: Passive houses consume up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling compared to traditional buildings. Resulting in significant cost savings for homeowners and a reduced strain on energy resources.
  2. Reduced Carbon Footprint: The minimal energy demand of passive houses translates to substantially lower carbon emissions. Contributing positively to global efforts to combat climate change.
  3. Enhanced Indoor Comfort: Consistent indoor temperatures, excellent air quality due to controlled ventilation, and the elimination of drafts create a superior living environment for occupants.
  4. Long-Term Value: While the initial construction costs of passive houses might be slightly higher, the long-term savings on energy bills and maintenance costs make them a financially viable investment.
  5. Resilience and Adaptability: Passive houses are designed to be adaptable to various climatic conditions, ensuring resilience and comfort even as weather patterns change over time.

Challenges and Future Outlook

While passive houses offer an array of benefits, their widespread adoption faces some challenges. Initial construction costs can be higher compared to traditional buildings, deterring some potential homeowners. However, as the construction industry adapts and technologies improve, these costs are expected to decrease. Additionally, educating architects, builders, and homeowners about passivhaus principles is crucial to fostering greater acceptance and understanding of this innovative concept.

In recent years, numerous countries and regions have taken steps to incentivize passivhaus construction through subsidies, tax breaks, and certification programs. As these initiatives gain traction, the adoption of passivhaus’ is likely to grow, further promoting sustainable living practices.


Passive houses represent a significant advancement in the realm of sustainable architecture, offering a compelling solution to the challenges posed by climate change and resource depletion. By embracing principles of exceptional insulation, airtight construction, and efficient ventilation, passivhaus showcase how environmentally-conscious design can harmonize with modern comfort and convenience. As the world continues to seek ways to reduce its ecological footprint, passivhaus stand as a beacon of hope, illustrating that a sustainable future is not only achievable but also immensely rewarding.

Image: Silva Timber
Architecture & Building

A guide to Passive houses: definition, benefits and cost   

Passive house design is an alternative to regular heating. Instead of having a boiler and radiators, they use a special ventilation system and effective insulation. Read on to find out more about passive house standards  

What is a passive house?  

A passive house is a design standard that is energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and ecological all at the same time. The houses attain thermal comfort with minimal heating and cooling. They achieve this by using insulation, appropriate windows and doors, airtightness, elimination of thermal bridges and ventilation systems with heat recovery.  

Who invented the passive house?  

The idea of the house was created by researchers in Germany however, they were originally called passivhaus. It all started with early conversations in the 1980s, led by academics Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist. Later, their concept was further developed through a number of research projects. 

What are the requirements for passive houses?  

To achieve the passive house standard, you must meet several criteria, such as:  

  • Airtightness – these houses are very airtight and shouldn’t have no more than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals pf pressure.  
  • Space heating – The energy demand for space heating must not exceed 15 kWh/m2 of living space per year or 10W/m2 at peak demand. This contrasts with the 100W/m2 needed in a typical house.   
  • Thermal comfort – Living areas should be comfortable all year round, with no more than 10% of the hours in a given year exceeding 25°C. 
  • Primary energy – Total energy needed for all domestic applications (heating, hot water and domestic electricity) must not exceed 60 kWh/m2of living space per year. 

Are passive houses expensive?  

Passive buildings don’t require the expensive heating or cooling systems of conventional buildings. This means even though the buildings require high quality materials they are still affordable. Also, they make for a great investment because you save long term on energy bills.  

Advantages –  

  • Affordability  
  • Lower heating costs 
  • Energy saving  
  • More durable buildings  

Disadvantages – 

  • Boxy and ugly – although there are many benefits of passive houses, many people think the homes look boxy and ugly. This is because it relates to the total surface area of all of the external walls (the Heat Loss Area) divided by the total floor area. A lower number means there’s less surface area for heat to escape. 
  • They don’t add value when resold – one of the main reasons that people don’t buy passive houses in the UK is because they don’t add much value. The owners usually live in them for the rest of their lives.  
  • These homes don’t fit in every location – it must be constructed in a location that allows uninterrupted sunshine to reach the south side of the home. In some big cities, this might be a problem. 
  • Noise concerns – because they are airtight noise can’t enter or leave a passive house. tiny noises will be audible throughout the entire building.