The History of the Passivhaus Standard

Sampson Close, Passivhaus New Build

History of Passivhaus

In this part of our series about Passivhaus Standards we take a brief look at how they have been developed over the last twenty five years to become the leading international low energy design standard.

The concept was developed in the 1990s by Dr Wolfgang Feist, who was concerned that buildings consumed much more energy when built than was predicted at the design stage.

“I was working as a physicist. I read that the construction industry had experimented with adding insulation to new buildings and that energy consumption had failed to reduce.

This offended me – it was counter to the basic laws of physics. I knew that they must be doing something wrong. So I made it my mission to find out what, and to establish what was needed to do it right.”

Dr Wolfgang Feist

The principles he established, which form the basis of the Passivhaus standards, were that the building must be:

  • Very well insulated
  • Structurally airtight
  • Have a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery

In 1991 the first prototype house was built in Germany, then in 1996 the Passivhaus Institute was created to research and develop construction concepts, developing the Passivhaus Standard.  Since then over 30,000 Passivhaus projects have been created across Europe. The first certified Passivhaus buildings in the UK were completed in Machynlleth, Powys in 2009.

In 2010 the Passivhaus Trust was created in the UK with Kingspan Insulation as one of the founder members. The aims of the Trust are to:

  • Preserve the integrity of Passivhaus standards and methodology in the UK
  • Promote Passivhaus principles to the industry and government
  • Undertake research and development on Passivhaus standards in the UK

Find out more about Passivhaus by looking at the other posts in our series on Passivhaus Standards.

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