How to Build a Passivhaus

Abel Hinchliffe

More and more people are looking at sustainable ways of living. A passivhaus is the gold standard of energy efficiency, built to rigorous principles using complex software.

This article is a very brief overview of quite what passivhaus construction entails, and what to consider if you’re thinking of building one.

What is a passivhaus?

If a building is a passivhaus, that means that it’s been constructed according to a rigorous standard of energy efficiency – what the energy saving trust calls ‘gold standard.’ First conceived and developed in Germany, a passivhaus building is constructed to be as efficient as possible, so that they require minimal heating or cooling – usually around 75% less than a standard new-build.

Passivhaus construction is not the same as carbon neutral buildings, as the passivhaus process aims to reduce the amount of energy used in the first instance. On the other hand, carbon neutral buildings have emissions minimised during construction and offset by other climate-friendly initiatives, like planting trees.

Typically, passivhaus construction methods include features including exceptional insulation, triple glazing, airtightness, mechanical ventilation, and a single compact shape, amongst others. Although older buildings can be retrofitted to passivhaus construction principles, this won’t reach the same degree of efficiency as a custom-build property. Understandably, custom-build passivhaus buildings are likely to be more expensive.

How to build a passivhaus

Building a passivhaus is no small feat – the Passivhaus Trust recommends setting out on any design process from the earliest possible point, so as to maximise integration of passivhaus principles and practice into any design. If you decide at a later point in the design process to integrate passivhaus principles, you may find it challenging to comply with correct construction processes.

You’ll need to consider the following when looking to build a passivhaus:

Passivhaus cost

It’s worth noting that a passivhaus might be more expensive to build, but you’ll likely benefit from cumulative savings on energy bills as the years go on.


To be a passivhaus, the building has to be modelled via a piece of software known as PHPP or Passivhaus Planning Package software.

As a result, if you’re looking to hire an architecture and builder, it’s best to hire one with knowledge and experience of passivhaus design and construction. They’ll be familiar with integrating complex PHPP software into their plans, as well as with the overall software.

An architect can also help you to secure planning permission for a passivhaus, which are typically looked on favourably thanks to their energy efficiency.

Key principles

To be a passivhaus building, certain key principles have to be adhered to. These include energy efficient glazing and windows, low heating, maximum ventilation, stringent airtightness, minimal thermal bridging, optimised solar gain, and super insulation.

These essential principles have to be taken into account throughout both the design and the build period. That’s why it’s beneficial to use a passivhaus approach from the get-go.

Speak to us about a passivhaus building

If you still have questions about how to achieve a passivhaus build, or want advice on the cost and construction, speak to CODA Bespoke today.

With over 40 years’ collective experience, as well as a long list of awards and nominations, our team can help you to design and build a bespoke, luxury home in Sheffield and the surrounding areas. Get in touch today to begin your life-changing journey.

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Abel Hinchliffe

With a wealth of experience Abel heads up CODA Bespoke, specialising in luxury residential developments both large and small. Recently entrusted with the responsibility of also heading up Studio 4 which is currently delivering numerous office to residential developments. Connect with Abel Hinchliffe on LinkedIn >

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