Passive Houses are structures with eco-friendly systems which can save sources such as heat, energy, and water in order to support ecology

Following the beginning of the 21st century, population growth, urbanization, and industrialization have brought along the rapid consumption of our natural resources. For these reasons, the damage to the environment kept increasing. Due to the development of adverse events such as climate change, drought, epidemics, and others around the world, many countries, have started to create new living spaces by designing structures with eco-friendly systems which can save sources such as heat, energy, and water in order to support ecology. One of the best examples of these systems is the “Passive House”. Developed for cold climate regions, passive houses offer very high energy performance in the countries where they are applied through the energy-efficient design parameters they employ.

Passive houses are a voluntary standard for energy efficiency in buildings, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. This results in ultra-low-energy buildings requiring very little energy for space, heating, or cooling.

Passive houses were first brought up in 1988

In the 1980s, low-energy buildings were considered as the required energy standard for new buildings in Sweden and Denmark. In that period, many elements were developed with the purpose of reducing building energy consumption such as highly insulated and energy-minimized heat bridges, insulated glass, and heat recovery ventilation.

Prepared on this basis, the concept of “Passive Houses” was first put forward by Prof. Bo Adamson from Lund University in Sweden and Prof. Wolfgang Feist from the Institute for Housing and Environment in Germany in May 1988.

Passive Houses are ultra-low-energy buildings requiring very little energy for space, heating, or cooling

The first example to this concept, which was developed through research projects supported by the German state of Hesse, wa s built in 1991 in Darmstadt, Germany. Following the establishment of the Passive House Institute (Passivhaus Institut) in Darmstadt in September 1996, the passive house concept was standardised, encouraged, and revised. Passive house criteria is a sustainable building standard which was aimed to be implemented by all member states until 2011 with the decision of the European Parliament on January 31, 2008. On November 17, 2009, the European Parliament set 2020 as the deadline for bringing the performance requirement of all new buildings to the level of low-energy buildings.

Passive House Institute carried out a “250 Passive Houses” project in various parts of Europe under the “CEPHEUS” (Cost Efficient Passive Houses as European Standards) project in order for this standard to be adopted by other European countries, and observed them separately and monitored their performance. Following the successful completion of the CEPHEUS project, the Passive House design has been adopted by and become applicable to all European countries.

The first example to the concept of the Passive House was built in 1991 in Darmstadt, Germany

From 1996 to 2010, over 25,000 buildings were built according to Passive House standards, most of which were around the borders of Germany and Austria. In North America, the first example of a Passive House was only built in 2003 in Urbana, Illinois. Today, there are more than 50,000 houses built according to the Passive House standard around the world. 18,000 of these houses are in Austria. There are approximately 14 Passive House projects in Türkiye today, three of which have been certified in 2021.

Currently, the rapid depletion of existing energy sources and the emission of harmful gases to nature have become a common problem for the whole world. For this reason, countries follow various policies on the research and development of clean and renewable energy sources. Regulations for the efficient use of energy on the basis of buildings have been included and design parameters that consume minimum energy have been developed. As a result of the Passive House principle developed in Germany, the concepts of thermal insulation, air tightness, heat bridge-free design, high-efficiency windows and ventilation with heat recovery were standardized, resulting in energy savings of up to 90 per cent in buildings compared to existing structures.

Example of a passive house in Turkiye: Gaziantep ecological building

Implemented in line with Passivhaus and LEED Platinum criteria and being the first in Türkiye, Gaziantep Ecological Building has been brought to the city as an exemplary structure that makes minimum carbon emissions and uses renewable energy systems. Completed through the joint work of Gaziantep University and Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality and received the support of İpekyolu Development Agency, the building is functioning as a Human Resources Centre and is at the service of its citizens as a centre where renewable energy technologies are promoted.