Is Passive House actually worth it? Yes! Here’s my go-to summary of the benefits

10 April 2024 by Jason Quinn

I’m often asked (usually politely): Is building to the Passive House standard actually worth it? Yes it is, is the unequivocal answer. There’s a brilliant summary paper written by Dr Ürge-Vorsatz and others that is my go-to evidence when I am persuading sceptics. The bottom line is that with current technology, we can build nearly zero-energy buildings almost anywhere at costs within the error bars of conventional building construction costs. This is central to reaching carbon balance between our technological civilization and the ecosystem.

Here is the authors’ summary of the paper:

  • The building sector is responsible for 39% of process-related greenhouse gas emissions globally, making net- or nearly-zero energy buildings pivotal for reaching climate neutrality.
  • Recent advances in building design, know-how, construction, operation, and retrofit, as well as low-carbon or even carbon-storing building materials suggest that the building sector could become climate neutral in itself.
  • The review of literature for this article reinforced the existence of the significant gap and time lag between the advanced professional knowledge and scientific documentation, and thus recommends strengthened research and publication in co-production among these communities in order to enhance the broader uptake of these advanced solutions as well as their wider inclusion in climate and energy policy portfolios and modelling.
  • There is a wide range of net- and nearly-zero building terms, standards, and definitions. Our article provides a summary figure that navigates the reader to understand the differences among these.
  • Bridging the gap between professionals, policymakers, and researchers is paramount to ensure wider acceptance of new and forward-thinking solutions. Collaboration among these communities enhances knowledge dissemination and drives progress forward.

Diana Ürge-Vorsatz is Vice-Chair of the IPCC, professor of Environmental Sciences at Central European University and Director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy: in short she is exceedingly well qualified and I make a point of reading papers etc that she contributes to.

This paper is open source and can be found here:

“Advances Toward a Net-Zero Global Building Sector,” Diana Ürge-Vorsatz1, Radhika Khosla, Rob Bernhardt, Yi Chieh Chan, David Vérez, Shan Hu, and Luisa F. Cabeza, Vol. 45:227-269 (Volume publication date October 2020)

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