Passive House Institute: The independent institute for outstanding energy efficiency in buildings

This piece by Laura McDermott is featured in The Beam #11 – Power in People. Subscribe now to read more on the subject.


A ‘passive house’ is a home built with the goal of consuming one tenth of the energy that is usually used by a typical house, whilst maintaining standards of comfort and keeping costs of construction affordable. The notion has been mainly promoted by German based organisation, the Passive House Institute (PHI), however it is now seeing traction and popularity worldwide.

The PHI, founded in 1996, is an independent centre and has a frequently growing interdisciplinary team which has contributed largely to the evolution of the passive house as a notion. The organisation states that ‘Passive House is not a brand name, but a tried and true construction concept that can be applied by anyone, anywhere’.

The idea is to improve the sustainability of our homes, working under the belief that the 1.5 degrees goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement is still a feasible target.

The idea is that a passive house is more than just a low-energy building. Constructing your home under the PHI guidelines allows for space heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical buildings. PHI have further reported vast energy savings that has been noted from passive houses built in warmer climates. The idea works by making efficient use of the sun, internal heat sources and heat recovery and it has been shown that even throughout the coldest winter months, that this approach is more than sufficient. A passive house is made under the belief that second to sustainability comes comfort. A key part of the creation is special windows and a ‘building envelope’ which is made up of highly insulated roofing, flooring and walls. Finally, a ventilation system supplies continuous fresh air.

The PHI is working towards it’s 24th annual international conference, which is going to be held digitally this year in September. Last year, the conference took place in China and it was deemed as a huge success, depicting the global recognition that the passive house concept is receiving. Passive houses are definitely a notion to consider for anyone building a new home.

You can find out more information about passive houses and the PHI at