Is Passive House just for houses?
The Passive House standard can and has been applied to all buildings that accommodate people: apartments, offices, schools, universities, leisure centres, museums, hospitals and prisons have been certified already.
Whenever it is important to deliver good indoor environmental quality, certified Passive Houses are the best answer!
Aren’t Passive Houses a bit over the top for our mild climate?
No – here is why: Passive Houses are designed specifically for the climate they are built in. As an example, a Passive House in Sweden will need about 40 cm of insulation in the walls, whereas in Auckland, you may get away with a quarter of this, if all other aspects are favourable. Any building has to be modelled accurately within its location and shading situation to get the appropriate response: demonstrated excellent performance.
What about simply opening windows? I thought they were banned under the Passive House standard!
This is a common misconception. Passive House projects are designed to provide good indoor air quality regardless of external conditions and occupancy. High or low outdoor temperatures, more or less wind, noise, outdoor air pollution and occupancy patterns mean that window opening regimes seldom deliver required ventilation rates. Air temperature, humidity and CO2 levels all suffer as a result. Nonetheless, Passive Houses have windows, which can be opened and closed whenever you wish, without compromising fresh air, unlike in a standard house.
Who can design and build a Passive House?
Achieving the Passive House standard is not difficult in principle, but it does require knowledge and planning. The best way to become competent in all things about Passive Housing is to gain a Passive House qualification and then to build Passive Houses!
Certified Passive House Designers or Consultants often have a design background, so if an architect or architectural designer is not yet appointed to the project, perhaps consider an architect/designer who is also a Certified Passive House Designer or Consultant. Passive House Consultants may also have an engineering background, and can help with challenges there as well.
Certified Passive House Tradespersons are trained to translate a Passive House design into built reality. All Certified Passive House Professionals have passed a very demanding examination.
Find a Certified Passive House Professional
What is a Low Energy Building?
For starters, it’s not a Passive House. Why then is the Passive House Institute certifying them? In a nutshell, a few years ago they bowed to pressure from the community. Passive House is an all-or-nothing business: you either get there, or you don’t. Designers and consultants were tired of being confronted with the frustrations of home-owners who went through a process, only to narrowly miss a target in the end, and then having nothing to show for it.
On this background, Low Energy certification was created. There was a fear that this will lead to confusion, as people will be unable to make the distinction. On the flip-side it was argued that Low Energy Buildings – if they are certified – were using the same processes as Passive Houses, and would still be great buildings deserving of some sort of medal. They are – but they are not Passive Houses – the choice is yours!
The PHI building certification guide has more on the differences of the standards.