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The Passive House standard

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This is a list of the most important GBA articles on the German Passivhaus Standard and the PHIUS Passive House Standard.

If you are looking for an index that spans all categories, with a special focus on “how to” articles, check out this resource page: “How to do Everything.”

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Passivhaus for Beginners

    UPDATED on April 16, 2015 More and more designers of high-performance homes are buzzing about a superinsulation standard developed in Germany, the Passivhaus standard. The standard has been promoted for almost two decades by the Passivhaus Institut, a private research and consulting center in Darmstadt, Germany.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Is This Building Passivhaus-Certified?

    UPDATED February 7, 2012 with a response from Wolfgang Feist The first residential Passivhaus building in Canada is the Rideau Residences, a duplex at 279 Crichton Street in Ottawa. The building has impressive specifications: an R-70 foundation, R-50 walls, an R-70 roof, and triple-glazed low-e windows. The building’s air leakage rate was tested at 0.58 ach50.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Does a Passive House Use 90 Percent Less Energy?

    UPDATED on August 22, 2017 with a new author's postscript. Longtime readers of GBA know that I get frustrated by exaggerated energy savings claims. A glaring example is the statement that “a Passive House building uses 90% less energy than a conventional building.” A variation on this claim: “A Passive House building uses 90% less energy than a code-minimum building.”

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Net-Zero-Energy versus Passivhaus

    In Europe, builders interested in energy efficiency are gravitating to the Passivhaus standard. Meanwhile, American researchers — and a few American builders — have developed a fascination with the idea of the net-zero-energy house. The U.S. Department of Energy has established as a goal that new buildings in the U.S. will be built to a net-zero-energy standard by 2030.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Are Passivhaus Requirements Logical or Arbitrary?

    What follows is a reconstruction of Martin Holladay’s keynote address at the Passive House Northwest conference in Olympia, Washington, on March 18, 2011. The piece has been fleshed out somewhat, in light of the fact that the original time constraints no longer apply. For the most part, each paragraph corresponds to one slide of the accompanying PowerPoint presentation. Click here to view the presentation slides Are Passivhaus requirements logical or arbitrary?

  • Green Architects' Lounge

    So You Want to Be a Passivhaus Consultant?

    You can also subscribe to the Green Architects' Lounge on iTunes. That way, you'll never miss a show—and it's free.

  • Guest Blogs

    Living in a Passivhaus

    [Editor's note: Daniel Roy is one of the owners of a recently completed Passivhaus in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Designed by architect Steve Baczek, the house was featured in a series of GBA videos. For more information on the home's energy specifications, see the attached Excel spreadsheet.]

  • Green Homes

    Passivhaus on a Budget

    When the time came for Jason and Stephanie Specht to find a builder, they started out with high ideals. They wanted a builder who wouldn’t skimp on the quality of construction and who wouldn't charge an exorbitant fee. Since this was their first time building, there were a lot of unknowns and a lot of questions: As clients, would they be able to customize plans? Select materials and finishes? Could they realize their budgetary goals? Did the builder have a good reputation? Would the house be energy efficient? Most of all, they were looking for a builder they could trust.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Redefining Passivhaus

    In January 2012, Katrin Klingenberg, the founder of the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS), announced that her organization would develop a new passive house standard for North America — a standard that differed from the Passivhaus standard developed in Darmstadt, Germany.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Passivhaus Crosses the Atlantic

    Last weekend I attended the Fourth Annual North American Passive House Conference in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. The conference offered a great opportunity to learn more about the Passivhaus standard and to discuss low-energy buildings with an experienced group of architects, engineers, and builders.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Passivhaus Buildings Don’t Heat Themselves

    For years, the English-language website of the Passivhaus Institut in Germany provided this definition: “A passive house is a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems. The house heats and cools itself, hence ‘passive.’”

  • Guest Blogs

    A Passivhaus Rebuttal: In Defense of the Standard

    By Mike Eliason To preface: these thoughts are my own and draw from the Certified Passivhaus Consultant training, studying European Passivhaus projects (occasionally documented on our blog), modeling projects and dissecting PHPP with my brute force collaborative cohort, Aaron Yankauskas. They are in no way endorsed by PHIUS, PHnw, PHA or the PHI in Darmstadt…

  • Green Building Blog

    Pro/Con: Does Passivhaus Make Sense Over Here?

    John Straube, a prominent building science professor and a principal of the Building Science Corporation in Westford, Mass., asserts that applying the German Passivhaus standard to North American houses often results in expensive details that yield few energy-saving benefits. In response, two prominent energy consultants, Marc Rosenbaum of Energysmiths and David White of Right Environments, challenge some of Straube's conclusions and defend the goals and methods of the Passivhaus standard.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    A Conversation With Wolfgang Feist

    Dr. Wolfgang Feist, the physicist and founder of the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, began his U.S. speaking tour with a presentation and panel discussion at the Boston Architectural College on October 23, 2010. Among the other speakers at the event were Katrin Klingenberg, the founder of the Passive House Institute U.S. in Urbana, Illinois.

  • Musings of an Energy Nerd

    Wolfgang Feist Defends Thick Insulation

    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?

  • Guest Blogs

    An Inside Look at the New PHIUS Standard

    Since 2012, Passive House Institute U.S. has worked on delivering a standard that would make it easier and more practical for professionals to deliver ambitious, performance-based, energy-efficient designs. PHIUS also sought to make a standard that would be useful in wider policy proposals. In the process, PHIUS addressed climate-specific and economic issues that had surfaced while applying the European Passivhaus criteria to buildings across North America’s varied climate zones.

  • Green Basics

    Passive House Video — Episode 1

    Watch “Passive House Design,” the first episode in a 5-part video series on the theory, design, and construction of a Passive House. To see the entire series, click here to become a GBA Prime member.

  • Green Building Blog

    In Defense of the Passive House Standard

    By Marc Rosenbaum and David White We recently read John Straube's paper, "Comparing Passivhaus Standard Homes to Other Low-Energy Homes," comparing the Passive House (PH) standard with the Building Science Corporation (BSC) cold-climate approach.


  • Collection

    The Pretty Good House

    Want to learn more about building a pretty good house? Sign up for the Sustainable Building Accelerator and learn directly from author and architect Emily Mottram. Register Now A Maine…


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