Energy Efficient Buildings: Passive House

April 18, 2018

Architects and builders are continually looking for, designing, and constructing ways to increase energy efficiency in homes and buildings. The Passive House model is currently being used and has been reducing energy costs for decades. Passive House, which originated in Germany in the late 1980s as the Passivhaus, is a design principle used in buildings’ designs and construction that shoot to attain quantifiable and rigorous levels of energy efficiencies that result in predictable and measurable comfort levels.



Design Techniques

According to Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), the goal is to “maximize your gains, minimize your losses.” The five building-science principles used in passive buildings’ construction include:

  • continuous insulation throughout the entire space with no “thermal bridging”
  • an airtight building that prevents outside air infiltration or loss of conditioned air
  • high-performance windows and doors that are usually triple-paned
  • use of balanced heat, moisture-recovery ventilation, and minimal space conditioning
  • exploitation of the sun’s energy for warmth in cold seasons and minimal overheating in cooler seasons


Ideal Locations

Passive buildings have been supported by the PHIUS Technical Committee, the Passive House Alliance US (PHAUS) members, the Building Science Corporation, and the Department of Energy’s Building America Grant. The buildings have been developed for use in a broad range of climate conditions, market conditions, and the variations of North American climate zones. With the determined goal to maximize returns, it can be adapted for many different buildings, depending on its locational needs.


Advantages and Amenities

The long-term benefits of passive structures are:

  • unmatched comfort capabilities even in extreme weather
  • outstanding indoor air quality
  • extreme resilience
  • opening the path to Net Zero and Net Positive buildings by minimizing the need for renewables.

In addition, Passive buildings are remarkably comfortable throughout the year. Residents will find no drafts, small temperature variances, balanced ventilation, and excellent air quality. They can usually even open and close windows and doors willingly without worries of overly wasting utilities and increasing expenditures.



Presently, passive buildings are approximately 7-15% more expensive to build than traditional buildings but, of course, are more energy efficient than conventional structures. They are truly an investment that eventually pay off. As more large-scale projects are completed and compatible materials are manufactured, the prices of the building costs will decrease.

The Passive House principle is aggressive but effective in its own way. It’s one of the many cost-effective, energy-efficient building techniques that can benefit different buildings, depending on each situation. To learn more about the Passive House principle, other energy efficient building techniques, or how designing a custom solution for your next building will benefit your bottom line, contact us today!