About Passive House

A brief guide to the comfort standard that is offering a real, future-proof alternative to the way we build and refurbish our homes

Passive House Key facts

Passive House is a construction concept – not a brand name.

It stands for a building that is energy efficient, comfortable and affordable.

Professor Bo Adamson of Lund University, Sweden and Dr. Wolfgang Feist of the Institute for Housing and the Environment, Germany, collaborated in 1988 to set the Passive House standard.

The 1990 pilot project (Kranichstein Passive House, Darmstadt, Germany) achieved heating energy of below 12kWh/m2/a.

The pilot home made way for a new line in Passive House compliant components, including high-efficiency heat recovery (MVHR) systems.

2013 estimates state that over 50,000 buildings are now certified.

Passive House has become a term synonymous with low energy even though energy efficiency was a by-product of the initial concept – to find a long term, sustainable solution offering supreme comfort.

Download the Passive House brochure to read more

A zero carbon future

  • The Zero Carbon Policy requires all new homes from 2016 to mitigate all carbon emissions produced on-site
  • This includes energy used to provide space heating and cooling, as defined in Part L of the Building Regulations
  • Reference to the Passive House standard has been made during discussions of how best to achieve this

Zero Carbon Chart
  • The fabric of the dwelling should be of a high specification
  • Close attention needs to be paid on-site to the detail, materials used and construction methods

10 times the energy

When MVHR systems are properly installed, the ratio of electricity required to heat loss prevented is 1:10 or better. This means that the ventilation system saves more than 10 times the energy than it requires for operation!

Passive House A comfort standard

Passive House, A comfort standard

All by simply improving the build quality!

Tick = Good for Passive House Comfort
Cross = Bad for Passive House Comfort
Fresh air all year round

Fresh air all year round

No draughts

No draughts

Whole house warmth

Whole house warmth

No condensation or mould

No condensation or mould

Fuel poverty eliminated

Fuel poverty eliminated

No hot or cold radiant discomfort (stratification)

No hot or cold radiant discomfort (stratification)

No summer overheating

No summer overheating

Shouldn’t buildings breathe?

Draughts are not comfortable!

The heat recovery ventilation (HRV or ERV) system provides all the fresh air needed.

Stale, used air is exhausted outside without the need to open windows, thus losing valuable heat.

Air infiltration puts the home at risk of mould growth.

What's the passive part?

The heating system!

Passive heat gains remove the need for active heating.

What's the passive part?

Excellent thermal insulation with a highly efficient heat recovery (MVHR) system maintains the comfort.

Just a minimal amount of additional heating may need to be supplied.

People in grass houses

In the Middle Ages in Iceland, people started to build turf houses after wood became scarce. These were Passive Houses, although they didn’t have adequate windows or sufficient ventilation.

Find out more about our ComfoSystems range - choose your type of whole house balanced ventilation

What are the benefits of a Passive House

Comfortable and healthy

  • Summer and winter comfort
  • No draughts
  • No cold surfaces or downdraughts
  • Good indoor air quality
  • Quiet ventilation

Low energy

  • Minimal heating
  • Efficient services, lighting and appliancess
  • Addresses energy security

High quality

  • Robust and long lasting
  • Real performance matching predictions
  • Certified designers and products


  • Can be achieved for capital costs comparable with standard build
  • Lower running costs
  • Alleviates fuel poverty


  • Focus on minimising energy consumption
  • Can incorporate other environmentally friendly features
  • Helps raise awareness of general environmental issues

Meets policy requirements

  • Performs better than current building regulations
  • Will help to meet the 2016 Zero Carbon target
  • Measured performance meets the new ‘as-built’ proposals

Comfort and heat input

cold but expensive - very unhappy
warm but very expensive - unhappy and poor
warm but expensive - unhappy
just right - happy

Comfort and heat input

cold but expensive - very unhappy
warm but very expensive - unhappy and poor
warm but expensive - unhappy
just right - happy