The PASSIVE HOUSE STANDARD an energy efficient building standard developed in Germany in the 1980s. It is a more thorough standard than our  star rating system (NatHERS). For our climate, it is about designing houses that keep the heat in. For the tropics it is about keeping the heat and humidity out.

The PHPP software (Passive House Planning Package) is used to assess first the plans, then the finished building.If Certification is sought, an independant Passive House Certifier is engaged to check all the data and assess the finished building.

The Passive House Standard is based on user comfort. High levels of insulation and high spec windows (triple glazed) are used to reduce heat loss;  heat-recovery ventilation gives constant fresh air and distributes heat; double layers of building wrap stop the drafts and care is given to reduce thermal bridges (where heat conducts out through studs, window frames etc).

A house designed to the Passive House standard needn't look any different... it has the same amount of opening windows and doors, but it will have the smallest electric heater. You must have the ability to heat the house to 22 degrees without using more that 15 kWhrs/square meter/year--that is the standard.

At present in Tasmania a certified Passive House will cost 15% more to build, though the heating/cooling costs will be reduced by at least 75%. With Certification the house will hold its value over time.

The Passive House standard can be applied to comercial buildings too...particularly good in schools as the fresh air ventilation helps children concentrate.

To find out more and see photos of Passive Houses from around the world, visit the links below.

Links: Australian Passive House Association