Number of Certified Passive House Square Meters Reaches One Million Mark
Building owners throughout the world are increasingly turning to the Passive House standard. This past autumn, the number of square meters that have been certified internationally based on the highly efficient standard reached one million. The symbolic threshold was crossed with the certification of the Midori Haus in Santa Cruz, California. Almost 25 years after the construction of a prototype house in Darmstadt, tens of thousands of tenants and homeowners continue to benefit from the low heating costs and high level of comfort provided by Passive Houses—on almost all continents and in practically every climate zone.
The Passive House Institute issued a special certificate for the refurbished building in California, noting the milestone achievement. The Midori Haus demonstrates that a 93-year old house can have extraordinary energy performance (80% reduction in energy compared to pre-remodel, without applying solar electric panels) and still retain the charm of the original Craftsman architecture. In their blog, they report on the technical details of the renovation and the results for their energy consumption values on a regular basis.
To date, the Passive House Institute has issued certificates for just over 10,000 units in Passive House standard. However, the certification is voluntary, meaning that the total number is much higher and there are no solid statistics available. "In principle, anyone can build a Passive House," says Zeno Bastian, Head of Building Certification at the Passive House Institute. What matters is compliance with the clearly defined criteria for energy consumption. How this is achieved depends on the climate; in Central Europe the most essential measures include thermal bridge free construction, an airtight building envelope, a ventilation system with heat recovery, triple-glazed windows, and excellent thermal insulation. "The primary purpose of certification is quality assurance," says Bastian. "With this internationally recognized seal, buildings owners are safe in the knowledge that the desired savings for heating costs and added benefits of a Passive House will actually be realized."
With reference to the architectural design, the Passive House standard does not specify any particular type of construction—and the principle works for every type of building use.
Certified projects are accordingly diverse. To date, the largest building built to the Passive House Standard is an office tower in Vienna which has a useable area of almost 21,000 square meters. The smallest Passive House, certified at the end of November 2014, is a building in France near Rennes with a floor area of just 11 square meters. Most Passive Houses are located in Central Europe, but construction based on this principle is increasingly spreading to other parts of the world; in addition to many buildings in North America and Eastern Asia, as well as pilot projects in South America and Central America, the first project in Australia was certified this past November.
The adoption of the Passive House standard, especially in Europe, is expected to gain traction substantially in the coming years. In 2021, when the EU Buildings Directive comes into effect, the so-called "Nearly Zero-Energy Building" will become standard for all new buildings. This will be achievable through a combination of the Passive House standard with the use of renewable energy. With savings of up to 90% in heating costs, this building standard does not only represent a meaningful solution for the energy revolution but is also economically attractive for building owners.
Benjamin Wünsch is the press contact for the Passive House Institute. This blog was reprinted with permission.
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