Passive House at a Glance


Over the last two decades, the Passive House standard has grown rapidly in popularity across an increasing range of climates across the world. According to 2013 estimates, over 50,000 buildings are now certified with thousands more low energy developments inspired by the model.

What is Passive House?

Passive House is a construction concept. It stands for a building standard that is energy-efficient, comfortable and affordable. It provides paramount thermal comfort with very low heating demand.

The precise definition, as given by the Passive House Institute is:

“A Passive House is a building in which thermal comfort can be provided solely by post-heating or post-cooling of the fresh air flow which is required for good indoor air quality – without using recirculated air in addition.”

History of the Passive House Standard

The Passive House standard was conceived when Professor Bo Adamson of Lund University, Sweden, and Dr. Wolfgang Feist of the Institute for Housing and the Environment, Germany, collaborated in 1988. The very first pilot project (the Kranichstein Passive House in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990) was Europe’s first inhabited multi-family home to achieve a recorded heating energy consumption of below 12kWh/(m2a) – just 10% that of the standard house at the time. This consumption level was confirmed via years of detailed monitoring.

The Passive House Institute (PHI) is an independent research organization that was founded in 1996 to promote and control the standard and has played a crucial role in the development of the Passive House concept.  The ground-breaking products that were used in the Darmstadt pilot home, including high-efficiency heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems, made way for a new line in Passive House compliant components.

“The heat losses of the building are reduced so much that it hardly needs any heating at all. Passive heat sources like the sun, human occupants, household appliances and the heat from the extract air cover a large part of the heating demand. The remaining heat can be provided by the supply air if the maximum heating load is less than 10W per square meter of living space. If such supply-air heating suffices as the only heat source, we call the building a Passive House.” Univ. Dr. Wolfgang Feist

Zehnder and Passive House

Zehnder’s experienced staff understands what high-performance housing is all about and how to design systems which ensure that the houses of tomorrow are a reality for today.  For your next project, request a complimentary HRV or ERV system design and quote here.

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