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Green Building News

Round 3: Wolfgang Feist Discusses the PHI-PHIUS Split

The founder of the Passivhaus Institut in Germany explains why the U.S. group has been cut off from its European parent

Wolfgang Feist, the founder of the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany.
Image Credit: Martin Holladay

UPDATED 8/31/2011 with a new blog link

Dr. Wolfgang Feist, the founder of the Passivhaus Institut (PHI) in Darmstadt, Germany, has released a new letter explaining the reasons why PHI decided to sever all relations with the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS). The International Passive House Association refers to Feist’s latest letter as a “statement of reassurance.”

Craziness and illegal sales

In his latest letter, Feist makes the following points:

  • “Although provoked – I’m only human, after all – I’ll refrain from responding to all the craziness that currently abounds, as I believe a deeper look at the recent communications from both organizations speaks for itself.”
  • “The fact is that our relationship to PHIUS was based on two contracts … These contracts, eagerly demanded by PHIUS some time ago, were both signed and standing.”
  • “At no time did PHIUS have a contract to even sell PHPP, let alone to adapt it (no, this is not merely about imperial versus metric – PHI fully understands and supports the needs of American designers to use numbers with which they are familiar, and is currently working on a solution). Nothing has changed except for the fact that PHI has now demanded PHIUS discontinue the illegal sale and adaptation of PHI’s property.”
  • “PHIUS would like far further reaching control of what is happening in the North American Passive House scene than it currently has. These ambitions conflict with the open approach chosen by the Passive House Institute, which makes a point of publishing all its research and offers assistance to all organizations wanting to collaborate in a decent and honest way. I am convinced that geographical monopolies are neither expedient nor possible.”

“Passive house” is not a trademark

On August 24, 2011, the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt issued a new document, Passive House and the United States. The document states:

  • “Course providers worldwide may choose to use any materials they like in preparing their students for the international Passive House Designer exam and indeed, those wishing to take the exam may prepare themselves through self-study. For interested course providers, however, PHI offers its Passive House Designer course materials, available in a variety of languages. This material is based on the CEPH course materials, which resulted from an EU-funded project by the same name involving several partners. … Interested parties may sign a licensing agreement allowing use of the Passive House Designer course materials as a complete course for the purposes of preparing students to take the international Passive House Designer exam. Due to the material’s roots as an EU Project, course providers must provide the complete course and the slides may not be adapted. Course providers are encouraged, however, to add their own slides to the course so as to cover regional specifics.”
  • “PHI is currently working with a local US developer to include a metric-imperial conversion tool in the updated PHPP which should be available early next year. With this newly updated software, no conversion of PHPP files will be required as both the metric and imperial units will be simultaneously visible.”
  • “The PHPP is available for sale by multiple resellers worldwide. New contracts for qualified US resellers are currently being negotiated. Resellers must have an intimate knowledge of the PHPP and be able to support users. Organizations fulfilling these criteria that are interested in becoming distributors of the PHPP software may contract directly with the PHI to discuss becoming licensed resellers.”
  • “The PHI has always encouraged an open market, having never trademarked ‘Passive House’ nor granted regional monopolies or territories.” (For more information on the trademark issue, see Can ‘Passive House’ Be Trademarked?)

More commentary from the blogosphere

The latest blog post on the issue is this one from Roger at the EdgewaterHaus blog.

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