What is a (certified) Passive House?

One of the more popular recent construction methods are homes certified under the “Passive House” standard, initially started in Germany but now a building performance standard used in tens of thousands of homes world-wide. Certified Passive Houses ensure warm, healthy, and efficient homes and can be built out of a wide range of building materials, and in all locations including complete shade. Owners undertaking a Passive House project will need to find a local certified Passive House designer, who in turn will recommend a third party certifier.

A certified Passive House (not to be confused with a home designed for passive solar gain) is carefully designed to ensure the home only uses around 20% of the energy a typical home would consume. It is then much easier to bridge the remaining 20% gap with local renewable power, and the next logical step is a “Zero Energy” home. Zero energy homes consume as much power as they produce, and are often grid-tied and feed and draw power from the general electricity network, but recent advances in battery technology is allowing off the grid projects to be more viable.

The heart of a Passive House is design, high levels of insulation, air-tightness, and balanced ventilation. Before adding on renewable energy generation, the first priority is to reduce the base load of demand. That way – you need a much smaller and cheaper energy production system.