Passive House Standards

Passive House Standards: What Makes a Building ‘Passive’ & Its Benefits

The Passive House standard is gaining popularity in Australia, particularly in the residential sector. The Australian government has recognised Passive House’s benefits and included it in its national strategy to reduce carbon emissions in the building sector.

The Passive House standard is an international building standard that reduces energy consumption and promotes sustainability. More and more buildings are being designed and constructed to meet the standard’s criteria.

If you are interested in making a passive house in Australia, this article will help you understand everything about passive house standards, its design features and benefits.

The Passive House Standards

Energy Consumption

The energy consumption of a passive house is limited to a maximum of 15 kilowatt-hours per square metre per year. This is achieved using a combination of energy-efficient design features, insulation, and renewable energy sources.


A passive house must also be airtight to prevent heat loss and ensure energy efficiency. The maximum air leakage rate allowed is 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (a measure of air pressure). This is achieved using high-performance windows and doors and a continuous airtight seal around the building envelope.


Ventilation is also an essential component of a passive house. While traditional buildings rely on mechanical heating and cooling systems to maintain indoor air quality, passive houses use a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery. This system circulates fresh air throughout the building while recovering the heat from the outgoing air, reducing the need for additional heating.

Design Features

Orientation: Passive houses are designed to maximise solar gain in winter and minimise it in summer.

Insulation: Passive houses are highly insulated, with insulation used throughout the building envelope, including walls, roofs, and floors.

Windows: High-performance windows minimise heat loss and maximise solar gain.

Thermal Bridge-Free Construction: Passive houses are constructed to eliminate thermal bridges, which can cause heat loss and reduce energy efficiency.

Shading: Passive houses use shading devices, such as exterior shading or interior blinds, to control solar gain and reduce the need for additional cooling.

Benefits of a Passive House

Reduced Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions

Passive houses use significantly less energy than traditional buildings, reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. This makes them an ideal choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Improved Indoor Comfort

Passive houses are designed to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature throughout the year, regardless of the outside temperature. This means occupants can enjoy a comfortable living environment without needing traditional heating and cooling systems.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

The ventilation system used in passive houses ensures that indoor air quality is always high. This is achieved by circulating fresh air throughout the building and recovering heat from the outgoing air.

Lower Running Costs

While the initial construction costs of a passive house may be higher than traditional buildings, the reduced energy consumption means that running costs are significantly lower. It can result in significant cost savings over the lifetime of the building, making it a financially sound investment.

Increased Property Value

Passive houses are becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, they are becoming more desirable to potential buyers. This means they can have a higher property value than traditional buildings, providing an additional incentive to invest in a passive house.


Owning a passive house in Australia can be a great way to promote sustainability and energy efficiency. Achieving a passive house certification requires meeting specific criteria related to energy consumption, airtightness, ventilation, and design features. While building a passive house can be challenging, the benefits make it a worthwhile investment for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainability.

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