What Actually is Passivhaus?

Passivhaus (sometimes known as Passive House) is a voluntary standard of low-energy building. It aims to provide occupants with a high level of comfort (heating and cooling) while using barely any energy. This is achieved through Passivhaus design principles which are extremely energy-efficient, boasting little-to-no running costs or carbon emissions.

Click to see the origins of Passivhaus building

First developed in Germany in the late ’80s, Passivhaus building was pioneered by Professors Wolfgang Fiest and Bo Adamson with the first homes being built in the ’90s.

While they were the first to build what we know as Passivhaus homes today, Fiest and Adamson’s revelation is thought to be based around research and development of builders in North America during the ’70s. They looked to construct homes that used little-to-no energy, using the sun as a primary source of heat –  key requirements of Passivhaus building today.

The first actual Passivhaus construction to the standard that we know today was four terraced townhouses in Darmstadt, Germany. Built in 1990 by architectural firm, Bott, Ridder & Westermeyer, the homes were occupied by their clients the following year. This was a pivotal point in low-energy construction and paved the way for the now-booming industry in modern times.

Reduction in Heating Demand

The Passivhaus Trust note that these amazing homes achieve around a 75% reduction in annual heating requirements compared to other UK new-build homes built by standard practices – with homes built in warmer climates requiring even less energy.

How is this achieved? Well, it’s quite simple...

Passivhaus building focuses around the reduction in heat loss to the point that it needs little to no heating at all with this being supplied from solar heat, appliances in the home and occupants of the Passivhaus house. All of these are teamed with impeccable building standards such as high insulation levels and minimal thermal bridges to achieve a significant reduction in heating demand.

Passivhaus Standard Requirements

What are the requirements for your home to meet Passivhaus Standards? The Passive House Institute detail them as follows:

  • Space Heating Energy Demand should not exceed 15 kWh per m2of net living space per year.
  • The Renewable Primary Energy Demand, the total energy to be required for all of your home’s domestic applications, must not exceed 60 kWh per m2.
  • Looking at Airtightness, a maximum of 0.6 air changes per hour is allowed at 50 Pascals pressure (ACH50). This will be verified with an onsite pressure test.
  • Thermal comfort should be met for all living areas for energy-efficient houses in both summer and winter seasons. This shouldn’t exceed 25°c for any more than 10% of the hours in a year.

Benefits of a certified Self-Build Home

There are endless benefits of having a Passivhaus certified home.

Click to see the advantages of Passivhaus building

  • Low running costs: This is a key benefit to the user more than anything else. Passivhaus homeowners will see a huge reduction in their running costs. As aforementioned, owners will tend to see costs reflecting as little as 25% of a standard new-build home, with many seeing even less than this in certain climates.
  • Sustainability: A key benefit to our beautiful planet as well as again, the user. An obvious one too! If we are using less energy, this will, in turn, have a huge impact on planet earth with a massive reduction in carbon emissions. Another implication to consider also looks at the reduction in labour and construction – if there are less of these, then less energy is being used when building said homes.
  • Longevity: The lifecycle of the home itself. Passivhaus homes are known for their unrivalled longevity. Homes built for the future that stand the test of time.
  • Healthy Environment: While not a key requirement for Passivhaus building standards, we still feel that having a healthy environment for users is an imperative aspect of the building process. Improved air quality, thermal comfort and balanced moisture and humidity levels are all enjoyed in a Passivhaus home.

Passivhaus Building and Services at Econekt

Here at Econekt, Passivhaus is in the DNA of everything that we do. We are able to offer a full-service self-build project or help at specific points of said job. We offer everything from a full Turnkey service, to simply supply and site assistance (plus everything in-between). We also offer the ability to certify your project, working closely with our partner Passive House School. They are able to offer a full Passivhaus certification on your new home, post-construction, through the use of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP). A full list of our services can be found here.

Please get in touch to discuss your Passivhaus building needs with one of our highly trained specialists and you could be making your dream home a reality in no time!

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