Dr. Wolfgang Feist is the founder of the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. On September 22, 2014, after Feist gave an address at a Passive House conference in Portland, Maine, he agreed to be interviewed. (For links to my two previous interviews with Dr. Feist, see the “Related Articles” sidebar below.)
Q. What will it take for a higher percentage of new buildings to be built to the Passivhaus standard?
Feist: In North America, the most important thing now is to involve industry to make better components available on a broader level. Far too much is imported now from countries too far away. What is really needed is to have better windows and ventilation systems. That is getting started now. In many European countries, triple glazing is now standard. That means that it is no longer more expensive. It can happen here too. In Germany, if you insist on a double-pane window, it might be more expensive than a triple-pane window.
In North America at the moment you have a lot of educated architects, but they still do it by combining products that are not really suitable for a Passivhaus. Even without the right products, it is possible to succeed, but that is more expensive.
The other step is education of all involved. At the moment, that means especially the construction workers and the HVAC contractors. The HVAC contractors are the most difficult, in Europe as in America.
Q. Is it correct to say that the European Union will require new buildings in Europe to meet the Passivhaus standard beginning in 2020?
Feist: That is almost correct. The EU has said that from 2020, the national governments in Europe are required to establish new construction standards with energy performance levels that are as low as the Passivhaus standard.
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