PassivHaus: The Disadvantages

A few of the disadvantages which the PassivHaus standard could pose to you and your self build home.


PassivHaus is a non- compulsory building standard which has been designed as an aid to anyone who wishes to build their own low-energy home. As an voluntary standard, PassivHaus is at the moment generating a lot of interest in the UK. The standard is based around the central idea of reducing the home’s heating demands as opposed to relying on renewable sources. The standards set by PassivHaus are much more strict than those of the current Building Regulations, and its popularity is attributed to the various ways by which its subscribers are able to meet the criteria. Designers who are using the standard are able to use software which predicts the eventual energy demand of the home.

Although the PassivHaus standard is very popular, there are some aspects to it which do put some prospective low-energy builders off the idea.

‘PassivHaus’ is not ‘Zero Carbon’

There is currently a growing interest in the UK in ‘zero carbon homes’, and PassivHaus is not the same thing. In fact, ‘zero carbon house’, a term which arrived back in 2010, is actually much less strict a standard than PassivHaus. For example, the fabric heat loss performance standard for a 2016 zero carbon house is set at 46kWh/m2/yr for a detached property. PassivHaus, on the other hand, sets for the same kind of home a standard of 15kWh/m2/yr, making it much more difficult to reach. This can be a blessing in that the home will in the long run be much more efficient, but you will also find it more difficult to build a home to stricter standards. Zero carbon is essentially achieved with a mixture of on-site renewables and carbon offsetting, whereas PassivHaus doesn’t use any on-site renewables and is more focused on saving energy than generating it.

The other Disadvantages

The PassivHaus idea is one which will work much better for some than for others. Operating such a house requires knowledge, much like operating any piece of machinery. You will have to know when to open windows, when the ventilation system will need boosting, when filters will need to be changed, and more. This is not in itself very difficult, but it does require that you begin to see your home rather differently. It will no longer be just a shell which you fill. It is in itself a piece of machinery. You will not be able to alter the house however you please, and the standard as a whole is really not very adaptable. It is not recommendable, even, to run a cable though for a satellite dish. Of course you are at liberty to treat your home however you wish to, but it will no longer be a PassivHaus if it is altered, or even if you decide to sleep with the windows open. Building a house to this standard means agreeing to live a certain lifestyle, which if lived to the book can work very well, and has been proven to do so time and time again. You must appreciate, however, that building such a home is a lot of trouble to go to if ultimately you do not want to live the PassivHaus lifestyle.


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