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Learning unitsPassive House Foto © CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Quelle: Michael Paula


The goal in building passive houses is to provide buildings that are comfortable in use while at the same time minimizing their primary energy requirement. Essential criteria in planning such buildings are: improved geometry and orientation of the buildings, and a building envelope structured to provide excellent thermal protection, together with high-grade windows. The buildings need to be constructed with great care – this includes quality assurance applying to elements, comfort and quality of execution, e.g. as regards airtightness and minimizing thermal bridging. A ventilation system with heat recovery decreases ventilation heat loss in winter; and the heating can be implemented in a very simple and cost-efficient way. This learning unit shows how all these factors interact, and how to verify whether a building meets the passive-house standard.


On completing this unit students are able to …

  • name aspects of the passive-house approach
  • describe structural measures to maximize solar gains
  • explain the importance of planning criteria such as shading, window size and window orientation
  • explain the significance of the surface-area-to-volume ratio for a building
  • name types of thermal bridge
  • explain the significance of thermal bridges in planning and construction practice
  • argue for the necessity of an airtight building envelope, and explain the relevant problem areas and quality assurance measures
  • explain the importance of a controlled ventilation system