What is Passivhaus?

Made In The UK

Passivhaus is an advanced low energy construction standard for buildings

Passivhaus is a surprisingly simple concept that is based on 5 key principles. This video explains how it all works in 90 seconds. At Beattie Passive, we always adopt a ‘fabric first’ approach using our patented and PHI certified build system to improve energy efficiency.


“… Building heat losses are reduced so much that hardly any heating is needed at all. The sun, the occupants, household appliances, and even the heat recovered from used air cover a large part of the heating demand. The remainder can then often be provided by the ventilation system”

Dr Wolfgang Feist

Founder & Director of the Passivhaus Institut

In 1988, German physicist Dr Wolfgang Feist and his colleague, construction engineer Bo Adamson, started to research the idea of a ‘house without heating’. Fast forward to today and this concept, now named Passivhaus, has grown to become the de facto standard for low energy buildings. It is a voluntary standard although it may be mandated in certain countries soon. At Beattie Passive, we build to the standard every time, but it is up to you to decide if you would like your project to be officially certified by an accredited certifier.

Founded by Dr Wolfgang Feist in 1996, the Passivhaus Institut (or PHI), is an independent research institute that has played a pivotal role in the development of the concept. Our build system has been assessed and certified by the PHI. We should also mention the Passivhaus Trust, an independent non-profit organisation that promotes the adoption of the standard in the UK.

The benefits can be broadly defined as enhanced energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and improved comfort, health and wellbeing. Research conducted by the Passivhaus Trust has identified almost 50 benefits in 6 different categories, as shown below.

The many benefits of the Passivhaus standards include energy efficiency, comfort and carbon-saving.

Did you know a Passivhaus needs as little as 10% of the energy used by a typical central European building for space heating and cooling each year? As you can imagine, this can have a profound impact on energy bills and carbon emissions.

  • You could save a small fortune on your heating bills
  • You’ll be doing your part to combat climate change

Heating bills can be astonishingly low. So low, in fact, that it can be used as a preventative measure against fuel poverty. Tenants in social housing, for example, are far less likely to default or get into arrears with their rent if they live in Passivhaus standard accommodation (Energy Saving Trust, July 2022).

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Passivhaus can put an end to fuel poverty. It can also significantly reduce carbon emissions – more on that later.

The standard is based on 5 key principles.

These are the 5 principles of Passivhaus

  1. The Beattie Passive build system create a continuously insulated structural thermal envelope
  2. We fit triple-glazed windows
  3. We specify Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR)
  4. We achieve high standards of airtightness
  5. Our build system is free of thermal bridges

To comply with the standard, the maximum demand for annual heating energy must not exceed 15 kWh/(m²a).

Passivhaus properties are naturally sustainable. They emit less carbon than traditional buildings and have a greatly reduced environmental impact. At Beattie Passive, we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and we build in a sustainable way, using timber, to reduce embodied carbon.

Energy efficiency and sustainability are not the only advantages. In our experience, when people actually live in a Passivhaus, they learn to appreciate the comfort, health and wellbeing benefits just as much as the energy efficiency.

As a nation, we spend almost 90% of our time indoors, yet many of our interior spaces, both at home and at work, are neither comfortable nor healthy. Passivhaus helps to maintain a comfortable environment throughout the year, with stable ambient temperatures, warm surfaces and no draughts, condensation, humidity, damp or mould.

A highly efficient and inexpensive Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) system provides a constant flow of fresh, warm air, while removing stale air, odours, airborne particles, pollutants and allergens.

There are actually four different standards for new builds. In addition to the ‘Classic’ version of Passivhaus, there are two additional standards, Plus and Premium, that incorporate renewable energy. Buildings which do not fully conform to the criteria may still satisfy the requirements for the PHI Low Energy Building Standard.

Another certification, EnerPHit, is the standard for your retrofit, refurbishment and remodelling projects. Like Passivhaus, it also has different classes depending on how you incorporate renewable energy. Despite the slightly higher energy demand, it offers virtually all the benefits of the Passivhaus standard.

We can’t talk about energy efficiency and Net Zero without talking about retrofit. Given that 80% of the buildings that we will use in 2050 have already been built, constructing new homes is simply not enough. We must decarbonise our existing housing stock, and we must do it now.

We can make your home or housing stock more energy efficient, comfortable and environmentally-friendly. Give our team a call today.

We’re the experts in all things Passivhaus
Beattie Passive was the first company in the UK to be certified for a complete build system by the PHI in Germany.
We deliver energy efficiency as standard with every build.
  • Thermal bridge free 0.01 W/(mK)
  • High thermal efficiency (U-Values)
  • Walls – 0.11 W/(m²K)
  • Roof 0.11 W/(m²K)
Passivhaus standards of performance and more
  • Our tried and tested build system is very versatile
  • Fast, efficient construction process
  • Protection against noise, fire, flood and radon
  • Stringent testing and certification for each build
We’re the experts in all things Passivhaus
Passivhaus benefits everyone in terms of energy efficiency, comfort and quality. The standard also provides a clear pathway to Net Zero, so give our team a call today.
More About Us
Our Story
Read about the history of Beattie Passive and our founder, Ron Beattie.
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Our People
These are the people behind our pioneering Passivhaus projects.
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Our Accreditations
We’re committed to continual professional development.
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Our Awards
We picked up some prestigious awards and accolades for our work.
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