Ten energy-saving homes that meet Passivhaus standards (2024)

As the cost of gas and electricity soars globally, we take a look at 10 highly-insulated Passivhaus homes that are designed to minimise energy consumption.

Passivhaus is an internationally recognised energy-performance standard that originated in Germany in the 1990s. It certifies low-energy buildings with high levels of insulation and airtightness.

Buildings of this kind often make use of triple glazing, solar heat gain and energy recovery ventilation systems. This means they can maintain an almost constant temperature, requiring little energy for heating and avoiding high energy bills.

In 2019, London studio Mikhail Riches and architect Cathy Hawley won the Stirling Prize for a social housing scheme in Norwich that helps tackle fuel poverty by meeting Passivhaus standards. At the time, sustainable architecture studio Architype said the win "puts Passivhaus in the spotlight – exactly where it needs to stay".

Read on for 10 examples of Passivhaus homes:

Devon Passivhaus, UK, by McLean Quinlan

A linear red-brick wall distinguishes this low-rise Passivhaus home, which was designed by McLean Quinlan within a sloped walled garden in Devon.

It features substantial amounts of insulation and triple-glazing, as well as air source heat pumps, a heat recovery system, solar panels and battery storage that provide over 100 per cent of the required energy for the home.

Find out more about Devon Passivhaus ›

Saltbox Passive House, Canada, by L'Abri

The vernacular architecture of Quebec informed the appearance of the Saltbox Passive House, which is the third house in the Canadian city to obtain Passivhaus certification.

It was designed by L'Abri to align with the standards of PHIUS, which is the largest Passivhaus certification system in North America. The studio also made use of wood siding and cellulose insulation to help lower the building's embodied carbon.

Find out more about Saltbox Passive House ›

TreeHaus, USA, by Chris Price

Architect Chris Price staggered a series of stained cedar-clad volumes down a slope in a Utah forest to create this Passivhaus residence for his own family.

The dwelling, aptly named TreeHaus, has a highly efficient envelope to ensure it stays warm during cold winter months when snowfall is frequent. Surrounding bedrock also helps to maintain warmth.

Find out more about TreeHaus ›

Casa GG, Spain, by Alventosa Morell Arquitectes

Casa GG is a prefabricated Passivhaus home near Barcelona that is covered in recycled spruce wood sourced from the surrounding landscape. It was built in just four months.

The home is divided into six modules, which Alventosa Morell Arquitectes aligned with the sun path to maximise solar heat gain. Its low-energy envelope means that it can be heated using a single radiator in colder seasons.

Find out more about Casa GG ›

PH01:BRK, USA, by Robert Arlt and Charles MacBride

This low-energy dwelling in South Dakota was created by architects Robert Arlt and Charles MacBride with a group of local architecture students to draw attention to the possibilities of sustainable construction.

According to the team, the PH01:BRK house is the first in the area to produce more energy than it consumes thanks to its energy-saving envelope and technologies including photovoltaic panels and a ventilation system that heats fresh air with the stale air leaving the house.

Find out more about PH01:BRK ›

Day House, UK, by Paul Archer Design

This zinc-clad mews house was designed by Paul Archer Design to replace a poorly insulated and leaky 1970s house in London.

The four-storey building, which looks like a two-storey home from the front, is super-insulated and complete with a heat recovery ventilation system that retains warmth to ensure it performs to Passivhaus standards.

Find out more about Day House ›

Old Water Tower, UK, by Gresford Architects

Located on the outskirts of a village in Berkshire, the barn-like Old Water Tower is a self-sufficient home designed and owned byGresford Architects' founder Tom Gresford.

Among its features are triple-glazed windows and external blinds that automatically close on the east, south and west elevations in hot weather to prevent overheating. The studio said its Passivhaus energy performance means it "costs virtually nothing to run".

Find out more about Old Water Tower›

Casa LLP, Spain, by Alventosa Morell Arquitectes

Another Passivhaus project by Alventosa Morell Arquitectesis this cantilevered residence that overlooks a mountain range near Barcelona.

Passive solar gain and highly insulated walls help keep the home warm and contribute to the building's low energy consumption. Its space heating requirement is 9 kilowatt-hours per square metre – exceeding the level required to receive Passivhaus certification from the UK's Passive House Organisation.

Find out more about Casa LLP ›

Forest Lodge, UK, by Pad Studio

This low-energy prefabricated home in the New Forest was designed by Pad Studio to meet stringent planning regulations in the area, which aim to prevent damage to the site.

It performs to Passivhaus standards but is also largely self-sufficient, making use of rooftop solar panels, an air-source heat pump and on-site sewage treatment facilities.

Find out more about Forest Lodge ›

New York Street Passive House, USA, by Studio 804

Students in a design-and-build programme at the University of Kansas designed this house to offer "an example of the way housing can be done more responsibly in the future".

The rectangular building is orientated to make use of passive solar gain and lined with insulation that performs nearly three times the minimum required by city code. It also makes use of eco-friendly materials and technologies including photovoltaic panels and an energy-recovery ventilator.

Find out more about New York Street Passive House ›

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Ten energy-saving homes that meet Passivhaus standards (2024)


Ten energy-saving homes that meet Passivhaus standards? ›

When it comes to the most efficient building shape, uncomplicated dome and cube structures retain the most heat. This is because the air can circulate more efficiently around a dome whilst a cube has the smallest surface area to floor area ratio, so it loses minimal amounts of heat.

What is the most energy efficient house? ›

When it comes to the most efficient building shape, uncomplicated dome and cube structures retain the most heat. This is because the air can circulate more efficiently around a dome whilst a cube has the smallest surface area to floor area ratio, so it loses minimal amounts of heat.

What are the 5 principles of Passivhaus? ›

Fundamental to the energy efficiency of these buildings, the following five principles are central to Passive House design and construction: 1) superinsulated envelopes, 2) airtight construction, 3) high-performance glazing, 4) thermal-bridge-free detailing, and 5) heat recovery ventilation.

What is a certified Passive House? ›

Passive House is a performance-based building certification that focuses on the dramatic reduction of energy use for space heating and cooling.

What wastes the most energy in a house? ›

What Can I Unplug? These Household Items Cost the Most Electricity
  • Cooling and heating: 47% of energy use.
  • Water heater: 14% of energy use.
  • Washer and dryer: 13% of energy use.
  • Lighting: 12% of energy use.
  • Refrigerator: 4% of energy use.
  • Electric oven: 3-4% of energy use.
  • TV, DVD, cable box: 3% of energy use.
Sep 1, 2022

What is the cheapest energy to heat a house? ›

Natural gas is still the least costly form of energy in most of the country,” David says. “Plus, furnaces will cost less than a central heating system and should last many years longer.”

What is better than passive house? ›

Passive House focuses on reducing energy demand by minimizing heat loss and gain, while Net Zero focuses on increasing energy supply by generating electricity on-site. Both approaches require a high level of insulation and air sealing, and both can be achieved through careful attention to detail during construction.

How expensive is a passive house? ›

Level of finishing. A Passive home can cost $150 per square foot or more than $500 per square foot depending on the level of finishing.

How much more does a passive house cost than a regular house? ›

How much does a passive building cost? Currently, a passive building typically costs about 3-5% more than a conventional home.

How to heat a Passive House? ›

This means that the energy required to heat a passive house is 90% lower than that of other buildings. Passive homes therefore do not rely on traditional heating sources like furnaces or boilers. Instead they use renewable energy sources like solar panels, geothermal energy or heat pumps.

What are the walls in a Passive House? ›

As a rule, the walls of Passive Houses are thicker than that of regular buildings. Typical options for high-performing exterior walls include: SIP - Insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings. Concrete or brick walls insulated with polystyrene or mineral wool.

Can you have a cat flap in a Passive House? ›

Find a passive pet flap

The petWALK is an Austrian pet door that was designed for use in passive and other low energy homes. It's completely airtight, highly insulated, and one hundred per cent waterproof. We can confirm that the door is completely passive compliant.

Can a Passive House have a fireplace? ›

A fireplace for passive house or low-energy consumption building is an eco-friendly fireplace with very low energy consumption. It's thermally neutral and does not pollute indoor or outdoor air. The water vapor fireplace seems the most compatible with this low-energy consumption house concept.

Can you turn a normal house into a Passive House? ›

Luckily, the PHI's EnerPHit renovation certification allows renovations of older homes to the exacting passive house standards. The EnerPHit renovation plan, when implemented in its totality, can enable even the oldest and draftiest of homes to achieve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand.

Are passive houses worth it? ›

A passive house reduces energy costs by 70–80% because it is constructed with insulating materials and uses solar energy to generate heat. Therefore, you won't need a fireplace, heaters, boilers, or other energy-intensive heating systems since the house will constantly be at the ideal temperature.

What are the pros and cons of passive design? ›

Passive house design offers superior energy efficiency and reduced emissions, but requires strict technical requirements and may require more mature technology and professional personnel for development. Advantages: high energy efficiency, reduced energy consumption, improved indoor air quality.

Are passive homes worth it? ›

Any extra costs you absorb may be recouped from the home's drastic energy savings. Your home may also be worth more to future buyers whenever you sell. If you can't or don't want to build a new one, there are still ways to retrofit your existing home to passive house standards.

Do passive houses really work? ›

Passive houses are among the most energy-efficient and eco-friendly options for homes. With energy savings as high as 90% compared to typical structures and 75% compared to new construction, passive structures reduce the energy needed to both cool and heat your home.


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