The Passive House approach to designing, constructing, and retrofitting buildings ushers in a means of predictably creating very energy-efficient buildings and sharply reducing carbon emissions from the building sector. Tens of thousands of Passive House buildings—homes, office buildings, laboratories, schools, and even entire city districts—have been constructed worldwide.
The term Passive House, or Passivhaus in German, derives from the fact that buildings constructed to this standard can be conditioned passively without much, if any, fossil fuel use. Contrary to the somewhat misleading label, Passive House buildings do not depend solely on passive solar energy to keep them comfortable, and they are not necessarily houses. Instead, the Passive House approach incorporates a thorough understanding of building physics that, when applied, creates superinsulated, very airtight buildings that require minimal energy use to heat, cool, dehumidify, and ventilate—while simultaneously delivering superior indoor air quality and year-round comfort.
The Passive House approach is practical and has been tested in the field in diverse climates, from Sweden to Chile. In North America the Passive House industry has been growing rapidly, with clusters of Passive House construction in Vancouver, New York, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, Mexico City, and many other municipalities.