What is a Passive House

A passive house combines high living comfort and cosiness while reducing energy costs to a minimum and ensuring careful treatment of the environment. The term "passive house" designates a building that guarantees comfortable indoor climate in summer and winter without the need of conventional heating and cooling systems.

This goal is reached due to the particularly high level of planning and execution quality. The passive house is defined as a building standard and represents an optimised form of the low-energy house standard. The passive house standard can be implemented in all methods of construction (massive, lightweight or mixed construction), using all kinds of material (wood, clay, brick, concrete, glass, steel etc.) and meeting the taste and requests of the owner and architect. This is how the passive house gives the owner and planner the greatest freedom in designing the building. The passive house standard can be implemented for all types of building use.

The passive house standard provides the lowest-cost solution for maximum energy saving and outstanding living comfort.

The passive house standard is the basis of the "nearly zero energy building" set by the EU buildings directive defining the minimum standard throughout Europe from 2020 on. Due to the energy efficient passive house standard the minimised residual energy demand can be fully covered from renewable energy sources.

In the Central European climate, it is in particular the annual heating demand that must be equal to or lower than 15 kWh/m²a for this purpose. If the heating load is less than 10 W/m²a the minimum residual heat demand can be covered by heating the intake air via the already existing ventilation system. Passive houses need around 80% less of heating energy than new buildings complying with standard building regulations. In refurbishment of existing buildings, they can save up to 95% of heat consumption for heating purposes.

In passive houses, other energy demand, in particular electricity for household appliances and the like, is minimised by using efficient equipment, aiming not to exceed the overall end energy demand for heating, domestic hot water, ventilation power and household appliances of 42 kWh/m²a. This is at least four times less than the specific consumption levels of new buildings required by the applicable regulations in Europe.

The primary energy demand must not exceed 120 kWh/m²a.


The passive house standard was defined in 1989/1992 by the Passivhaus Institut (PHI), an independent research institution headed by Dr. Wolfgang Feist,  following merely scientific physical findings, and represented the perfect solution of energy-efficient building since that time.

The name "passive house" is derived from the "passive" use of the existing heat from solar radiation through windows and the heat emitted by devices and residents. As the optimised building envelope reduces heat losses to a minimum, these "passive heat sources" can make a significant contribution to keeping the building at pleasant indoor temperatures during the heating period.

Deciding for a passive house means deciding for a sensitive use of energy and resources. At the same time, this offers the benefits of minimal operating costs and independence from price developments in the commodities markets and an incomparably healthy room climate. If you opt for a passive house you know what this is all about.


More information about Passive house see passipedia.de

Ing. Günter Lang speaking on the benefits of a passive house in an interview on YouTube on 9 Feb.2010.
What are the outstanding features of a passive house?