What are the benefits of building to Passivhaus standard?

Passivhaus is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world.

Since the standard was developed in Germany in the early 1990s, 30,000 Passivhaus structures have been built worldwide.

Below are three main benefits of building to Passivhaus standard.

1. Saving energy

Buildings designed and built to Passivhaus standard need very little energy for heating and cooling. They are well-insulated and are designed to regulate temperature throughout the year. The need for little energy and the fact that the buildings produce fewer carbon emissions means that they are also better for the environment.

2. Driving down cost

While Passivhaus buildings tend to be more expensive to create, they are cheaper to run. This is due to the use of features such as good insulation and more economical windows than an average building. There is also no need for radiators in a Passivhaus building, so users save money on energy bills over time.

3. Improving quality

Passivhaus structures need to be built to a high quality in order to achieve their purpose of being airtight and delivering an excellent thermal performance. According to passivhaus.org.uk, as well as being an energy performance standard, Passivhaus also provides excellent indoor air quality, achieved by reducing the air infiltration rates (drafts) and supplying fresh air which is filtered and heated by the Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) unit.

Passivhaus standard council houses

An example of building to Passivhaus standard

Interserve has delivered 14, three-bedroom affordable homes to Passivhaus standard under Exeter City Council’s Council Own Build (COB) II initiative. The homes have been built with parking for each resident and all homes have enclosed safe gardens, but they are in a communal cul-de-sac to encourage community interaction.

Built on the outskirts of Exeter City in Silverberry Close and Barberry Close, the terraced houses include two fully wheelchair-accessible properties.

The £2.3 million development tackles fuel poverty and provides exemplary living conditions with the specification of healthy building materials, featuring:

  • Non-toxic materials
  • Organic materials
  • Designing out the risk of dust mites
  • Minimising electromagnetic radiation by good wiring design and specification
  • High levels of thermal comfort
  • High levels of natural daylight

The overall aim was to transform the area, which was previously under-used, for local communities while investing in a brighter future for these parts of Exeter. The houses are fully occupied and rented, and provide homes for families who were waiting on the Devon Home Choice Systems for a suitable place to live.

Talk SustainAbilities

Join us to read, watch, comment on and share key issues of sustainability

  • Brian Davey

    Do you have any measurable targets with respect to building noise? After all noise is a pollutant and is a serious source of stress and health problems. It is also a factor disturbing wildlife if in close proximity. I have looked through the interserve website and cannot find any reference to noise.

    As a related point: there is an environmental economics principle that for optimal welfare those suffering as a result of “negative externalities” (like noise) should be compensated. I am not sure that I entirely agree that money can be used to equalise all problems. However when one is having noise imposed upon one it would make a small difference. (The UK government puts monetary values on the effects of road noise for its policy calculations)>

    What is the Interserve view?

    • Construction noise is something that varies considerably due to a variety of activity and location based factors, in addition there is not an industry standard that the construction business can work to.

      Where feasible Interserve works to best practice to reduce and control site noises as this is part of our Health and Safety regime. Noise affecting the local environment is usually monitored and regulated by the Local Authority and can form part of the planning permission requirements around working hours and activity based noise/vibration.

      Where it is identified that a development/activity can have a significant impact on the neighbouring environment Interserve would normally apply to the Local Authority for ‘prior consent’ under Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

      As a considerate contractor we aim to work with the local community to minimise the impact of works by informing the neighbours of noisy activity periods and responding to individual complaints.