What is Passivhaus?

Passivhaus is a German standard which aims to provide a high level of comfort with minimal energy use for heating and cooling. It is the leading standard in construction for energy saving world-wide. The result of this is warmer buildings and lower bills as the heating demand can be reduced by up to 75% from the standards set by the building regulations. This is achieved through a well-insulated envelope, high performance windows with well insulated frames, thermal bridge free detailing, an airtight building fabric and highly efficient heat recovery ventilation.

One of the main benefits of the Passivhaus approach is the incredible comfort that is achieved. The ventilation system (together with the level of airtightness) provides warm, fresh air without draughts or extremes of humidity. This ultimately means that the environment inside is consistent and healthy.
A common misconception with high performance buildings is that they are dark and enclosed, with few small windows to keep the heat in. With the triple glazed requirement of the Passivhaus standard, this simply isn’t true as a certified Passivhaus window actually takes in more heat on average than it lets out. This makes them an important part of the building’s heating strategy and so larger windows are actually preferred.

Another mistake made when considering the Passivhaus standard is the assumption that it results in bland, boxy buildings. Again, this simply is not the case. We have recently worked on a building (the Veridis House in Worcestershire) which, whilst not a certified Passivhaus, will perform at very close to Passivhaus standards and this has large, full height windows with a big curved wall and triangular windows. Often the additional requirements of the standard can act to add architectural interest with large overhangs or other solar shading devices an essential element.

Experts in Passivhaus design, we can provide general advice on designing and building your home to Passivhaus standards. Call us on 01422 416 107 or email us at info@pdab.co.uk if you are interested in how the Passivhaus principles could be of benefit to your project or simply want to find out more.