What is a Passive House?

Passive House is a highly energy efficient building standard that also promotes indoor comfort and acoustic insulation.

Passive House at night

Passive House is not only one of the world’s leading energy efficiency standards but also a construction concept made to build comfortable, environmentally friendly and affordable homes and buildings.

Established by the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany in 1996, “passive house” was one of the pioneering concepts for building low-energy houses and is today a leading building standard. The design is focused on making best use of the “passive” influences in a building – like sunshine, shading and ventilation – rather than active heating and cooling systems such as air conditioning and central heating. Coupled with very high levels of insulation and airtightness, this makes it possible for a passive home to use 90 percent less energy1 than a typical dwelling.

Passive House homes and buildings offer superior indoor comfort due to consistent temperatures and good air quality. They also have the added benefit of reducing both external and internal noise due to the high levels of insulation.

What is the requirements for passive house?

A building must meet several criteria to achieve the passive house standard:

  1. Space heating: The energy demand for space heating must not exceed 15 kWh/m2 of living space per year or 10W/m2 at peak demand. This contrasts with the 100W/m2 needed in a typical house. 
  2. Primary energy: Total energy needed for all domestic applications (heating, hot water and domestic electricity) must not exceed 60 kWh/m2of living space per year.
  3. Airtightness: Passive buildings are very airtight and should have no more than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure.
  4. Thermal comfort: Living areas should be comfortable all year round, with no more than 10 percent of the hours in a given year exceeding 25°C.

How do you build Passive Houses?

To achieve this level of performance, builders use intelligent passive design – for example ensuring the house is oriented and designed to make best use of sun and shade – together with the five passive house principles (see factbox).

The five principles of passive house design

  1. No thermal bridging
  2. Superior windows
  3. Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery
  4. Quality insulation
  5. Airtight construction

Read more on the principles here.

Construction, Home, House

Very high levels of insulation are a key element of passive construction, which keeps heat losses so low that a house can be kept warm either without heating or just by preheating the fresh air entering rooms. Passive buildings feature a continuous insulating envelope like a warm coat around the building, and an airtight layer.

ROCKWOOL’s non-combustible stone wool insulation is ideal for reaching passive house standards because it fits easily into the building and stays in shape over time, lets vapour pass through, is long-lasting and fire-safe.

Therefore, we have created a unique wall system combining stone wool columns, ROCKWOOL insulation and airtight OSB4 boards on the inside. Rockzero is a highly energy efficient wall system that also offers fire protection and superior indoor comfort. You can learn more about Rockzero here!

1 "25 Years Passive House – Interview with Dr. Wolfgang Feist",  Passive House Institute 

Read more on passive buildings