passive house | superior comfort | minimal energy use

custom designed for maximum comfort with minimal energy use

Choosing a house to build? Imagine a house so comfortable that every room is the perfect temperature year-round, a house that slashes heating and cooling bills, a house that is healthier to live in than other houses on the market. This is Passive House.

a house that is healthier to live in

custom designed & energy efficient

Passive House is a flexible performance standard and not a specific building type, like other eco homes or green homes. This means that your home can be designed to suit your tastes, lifestyle and site – just so long as it delivers maximum comfort with minimal energy.

Contemporary Passive House with modern saw tooth roof, timber cladding, deck and pergola.
Passive House by Sven Maxa
of Maxa Design.

Image © Andy Marlow of Reproduced with permission.
Contemporary 2 storey rendered Passive House.
Passive House cottage by
Granted Construction.

© Devin Grant. Reproduced with permission.
Single storey weatherboard Passive House Cottage with carport.
Passive House by

© Paul Wilson. Reproduced with permission.

Originating in Germany, there are now 60,000 Passive Houses worldwide, including Australia.

passive house down under

Passive House results speak for themselves. Let’s look at an Australian case study to see the standard in action.
A 4-occupant Passive House in Canberra was monitored for 12 months from November 2015. [i] These are the results:

  • 64 percent energy savings compared with the average Canberra 4 occupant home
  • Internal temperatures between 20°C and 25°C without heating and cooling for 96.1 percent of the time (external temperatures were -2°C to 37.3°C during the year)
  • 2°C room to room temperature difference when outdoor temperatures fluctuated by approximately 16°C (8° to 24°)
  • 150 times more air tightness than new Australian houses (air leaks are responsible for 15 to 25 percent of winter heating loss [ii] in standard houses)

This Passive House incorporated some passive solar principles such as orientation and thermal mass.

The beauty of Passive House is that it can deliver energy-efficiency and comfort without passive solar features, making it perfect for tricky sites like an inner city or beachside knock-down rebuild.

Modern single storey Passive House and garden.
Certified Passive House in Canberra.

Image © Harley Truong of
Sunny open plan kitchen and living with glazed exterior doors.
Interior of Chifley Passive House.

Image © Harley Truong of
[i] Truong, H. &. (2017). Chifley Passive House. A case study in comfort and energy efficiency. International Conference on Improving Residential Energy Efficiency, IREE 2017. (pp. 214-221). Wollongong: Elsevier. Retrieved from:

the passive house difference

House Diagram with Passive House principles illustrated.
© Passive House Institute.
Thorough thermal insulation (including subfloor and external walls)
High performance windows – like insulation for your glazing! Up to 40 percent of winter heating is lost, and 87 percent of summer heat is gained, through single glazed windows. [i]

Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) – exchanges heat between outgoing and filtered, incoming air to keep internal air fresh, warm in winter, cool in summer.
Air tightness – eliminates draughts and prevents warm air leaking out in winter and in during summer.

This is key to superior energy-efficiency. Better yet, because they use ‘intelligent’ building fabrics (2:36 video) to achieve air tightness, Passive Houses don’t suffer the mould and damp problems that commonly affect Australian houses.

Elimination of thermal bridges – thermal bridges are construction materials such as concrete, metal and glass that extend from the interior to the exterior.

They conduct heat in during summer and out during winter and create uncomfortably cold areas where water vapour can condensate and cause mould growth and rot. All significant thermal bridges are eliminated in the planning stage.

thermal image displaying thermal bridge

Thermal image of building exterior. Heat is conducted out of the building by a veranda and can be seen by the warmer colour.
Thermal bridge. The veranda at top right is conducting heat
(yellow/orange colour) from the inside to the outside of this building.

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passive house performance

Other building standards such as NatHERS predict theoretical energy efficiency. But the theory doesn’t always work in practice. In 2011, it was reported [i] that hundreds of thousands of new 5-star energy rated homes were performing at a 2 to 3-star level, doubling residents’ energy consumption.

The Passive House standard has been validated by years of real-life data.

What’s more, Passive House certification ensures performance starting with rigorous analysis at the planning stage, then reporting and verification during construction including air tightness Blower-Door testing (5:47 video) at 2 separate stages.


passive house delivers clean, fresh air

passive house – healthy, wealthy and wise

Building a Passive House for maximum comfort, saving on energy bills, and climate-change resilience is a wise choice for your finances and your family’s future.

But did you know that Passive House is a better choice for your health as well? Passive Houses prevent household damp, mould and dust mite proliferation that exacerbate asthma, allergies and other diseases. [i][ii]

And your incoming air is fresh and filtered.

Interior of roof space with visible mould on timber trusses.
Mould on roof trusses in an Australian house.

Image courtesy of Dr Mark Dewsbury, UTAS.
Graph showing winter interior CO2 levels in a house with balanced heat recovery ventilation and a non-ventilated house. A red line running horizontally with mild peaks and troughs shows consistent good air quality in the ventilated house. A blue line with significant high peaks shows CO2 frequently above recommended thresholds in the non-ventilated house.
Monitoring of CO2 levels in two new three-bedroom houses in Auckland over a week in winter. Both houses were inhabited by four persons and a pet. The red line shows consistent air quality in the house with balanced heat recovery ventilation. The blue line shows CO2 readings peak far in excess of recommended thresholds in a free running (no HRV) house.

Source: Positive energy homes: creating passive houses for better living, Authors Robin Brimblecombe and Kara Rosemeier, Published by CSIRO Publishing 2017, p.5. Used with permission.
Air that enters as draughts through structural leaks carries dust, allergens, rodent faeces, even residue from your last pest control. [iii] Passive House delivers clean, fresh air all day, every day – no matter where you live.

What’s more, structural longevity, along with an increasing demand for energy-efficient homes [iv] makes Passive House a wise investment.

Building a Passive House will cost more up-front compared with a standard build. But Passive House is advanced building science far beyond anything currently built in Australia with benefits that will last long into the future – a truly future-proof, energy-saving, resilient and healthy house.

[i] World Health Organisation (2009). WHO Guidelines for indoor air quality: dampness and mould. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from World Health Organisation:
[ii] Study shows mould in bedroom causes asthma in young children. (2017, September 7). Retrieved May 25, 2018, from Medical Xpress:
[iii] Brimblecombe, R. & Rosemeier, K. (2017). Positive Energy Homes. Creating Passive Houses for Better Living. Clayton South Vic: CSIRO Publishing.
[iv] Heale, M. (2018, April 15). Retrieved June 14, 2018, from

find out if passive house is right for you.

email or call evan today for an obligation-free chat.

reference list

Brimblecombe, R. & Rosemeier, K. (2017). Positive Energy Homes. Creating Passive Houses for Better Living. Clayton South Vic: CSIRO Publishing.

Green, M. (February 6, 2011) Five-star homes flunk energy test. Retrieved June 14, 2018 from:

Heale, M. (2018, April 15). Retrieved June 14, 2018, from:

McGee, C. (2013) Passive Design. Retrieved May 14, 2018 from:

Medical Xpress (2017, September 7). Study shows mould in bedroom causes asthma in young children. Retrieved May 25, 2018, from:

Reardon, C. (2013). Passive Design: Sealing Your Home. Retrieved  June 30, 2018 from:

Truong, H. &. (2017). Chifley Passive House. A case study in comfort and energy efficiency. International Conference on Improving Residential Energy Efficiency, IREE 2017. (pp. 214-221). Wollongong: Elsevier. Retrieved from:

World Health Organisation (2009). WHO Guidelines for indoor air quality: dampness and mould. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from World Health Organisation:

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