Be a certification pro The SEL guide for PH designers

11 April 2022 by Sara Wareing

Passive House certification offers many benefits and the cost is tiny relative to the whole budget for a new home. As a Passive House designer, you can make the process faster, easier and contain costs for your client by being well-organised and diligent when it comes to the details required for certification.

I’ve prepared a guide for documentation for new Passive House designers or those who haven’t uploaded to the Passive House certification platform for a while and who may need a refresher. You can find it here. It provides point by point assistance and I suggest you have it open on a second screen as you upload your documentation, or print it out for easy reference.

Both the pre- and post-construction reviews require lots of documentation and evidence. As a company, we work hard to make this process as clear and streamlined as possible. At time of writing, Sustainable Engineering’s certifiers have signed off more than 64 Passive House projects in New Zealand at time of writing, and there are more than that in progress. In short, we’re good at this and do it a lot.

There are some experienced and well-organised Passive House designers who it is a dream to work with. They understand the certification process and do their end of it very well. Our goal is to support everyone we work with to be this kind of certification superstar.

It’s good for us, because we can sit down and do our work in one sitting. In the best cases, there are no details to be clarified or missing information. At worst, any questions we have are limited and quickly answered and we can finalise the work on a second round. This saves us and you time, gets to the certification decision faster and is within the scope of the fixed price we have quoted you. All of that is good for your client.

What we want to avoid—and frankly, so should you—is a situation where not all the information is uploaded into the platform or is out of date. We have to go through the whole set of documents to understand what is missing or has been done wrong. We then need to write up what is missing. The designer has one only more chance to get everything necessary to us. 

Remember, our contract for certification provides for two rounds of review. If certification spills over to a third or fourth round—as has happened—then that subsequent work is done on a charge up basis. If fundamental aspects of the design and/or materials change after the project was submitted for pre-construction review we need to repeat some work and that is also on a charge up basis.

Passive House was invented by Germans, right? There is no ‘close enough’ or ‘she’ll be right’. The value of certification is that it is independent and verifiable. Our decision as a neutral, expert third-party is based on evidence. The documentation is either right or it isn’t, the project is either certifiable or not. 

Don’t be intimidated by that. Like everything, Passive House certification documentation gets easier with practice. Helping you get better at it is part of our commitment to Passive House in New Zealand. We do that by working individually with you during the certification process and publishing advice for everyone’s benefit. Please let us know your feedback on the new guide, Be a PH Certification Superstar.

Don’t forget our Passive House Primer booklet too, available here if you haven’t already read it.

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