Passive House Certification: What It Means and Involves

Passive Houses are gaining momentum in Australia. More people are interested in building one, more businesses are offering operations, and organisational bodies are bringing experts together to further spread the principles and benefits of building a Passive House. Their vision is to bring these principles to every home, office, and building in Australia.

What is a Passive House Certification and why is it important?

Building a Passive House requires the help of professionals who are certified in Passive House Construction. There is also a Passive House criteria and meeting these criteria involves a process that ultimately leads to a certified Passive House.

The leading body in Passive House Certification is the Passive House Institute or PHI. According to the PHI, the requirements of a Passive House building are:

1. Energy-efficiency
2. Sustainability
3. Airtightness
4. Thermal comfort

More details on this are available here.

So how does one’s house or building get Passive House certified?

The process involves three different kinds of people: a design and construction team, a Passive House consultant, and a Passive House certifier. It is recommended that the Passive House certifier be contacted early on in the planning stages.

First, the design and construction team create building plans with the necessary energy-relevant documents and other technical data for construction. Before any construction work begins, these plans must be thoroughly checked by the Passive House consultant and any adjustments or corrections made immediately.

Plans are checked through the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), a software tool developed by the PHI to be used by architects, tradespersons, or any other construction experts. It calculates energy efficiency and provides very reliable data with respect to Passive House requirements. The PHPP is the most important part of the certification process as it is the only reliable and professional tool used for calculating energy balance. It ensures the planned building will actually perform as expected once finished.

Second, once the initial check passes through, the design and construction team can start selecting products to use and identifying form and construction. PHI also certifies Passive House components such as walls, floor insulation systems, window frames, doors, exhaust systems and more. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use a component that hasn’t been certified – it can still be used if it goes through PHPP testing and is passed – certified materials just make the process faster.

Third and last, the construction plans and listed products will once again be analysed by the PHPP. If they fail the final assessment, the design and construction team will need to redo their plans until they pass. Once passed successfully, construction can begin and the certification will be processed.