What Are Passive Houses?

Image of the construction of your passive house

A passive house is a home that has adopted several different design principles, working together to maximise and optimise the energy efficiency and comfort of the building.

They represent a major positive investment in your home, and in the environment, but they need specialist expertise and careful planning to get right.

In this blog, we’ll explore how passive houses work, how you can benefit from them, and how to get started with a passive house project.

The five key principles of passive houses

Passive houses should conform to the internationally recognised Passive House Standard, which sets out five key principles.

These should be followed in the construction of your passive house, or in retrofitting if converting an existing property:

  • Triple-glazed windows: low-emissivity glass, filled with either argon or krypton gas between panes, are fitted in insulated frames to keep interior window surfaces warm.
  • Thermal insulation: through high-quality insulation and green roofs, a house should minimise heat loss across all opaque surfaces, so that the interior remains cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • Ventilation: good circulation of fresh air throughout the building, maintained at a consistent temperature.
  • Airtightness: minimal leakage through exterior gaps, so that warm air can’t escape.
  • Reduced thermal bridging: the removal of cold and damp spots caused by materials within the building that are more conductive than others around them.

Benefits of passive houses

A successful passive house project looks great from the outside, and feels great on the inside.

Get it right and you’ll feel lots of different benefits, including (and not necessarily limited to):

  • Lower energy costs: passive houses use only a small fraction of the energy a normal house would need, generating substantial savings on bills (and especially so with energy costs currently on the rise).
  • Value and ROI: passive house status can stand a property out in the marketplace, and the savings made in energy costs can help generate a strong return on investment over time.
  • Sustainability: a lower energy demand means a lower carbon footprint generated by the house, making a meaningful contribution to the fight against climate change.
  • Comfort and air quality: passive houses benefit from consistent interior temperatures in every room, comfortable humidity levels, and more peace and quiet thanks to green roofs and thick windows.

Are passive houses expensive to build?

While the long-term benefits of a passive house are substantial, they do represent a significant investment.

These tend to be complex bespoke construction projects, and can easily spiral out of control in time and budget terms if not planned out and managed properly from start to finish.

This is where the expertise of experienced construction project management makes a huge difference in keeping the project on time, on budget and on track.

I want to build a passive house. Where do I start?

Like any other project for eco homes and carbon neutral homes, a passive house project requires a specialist, highly bespoke brief, guided by connections, experience and expertise.

At Buildsmith Solutions, we have that vital know-how. Find out how we can help your project on our passive houses page.