Passive Design v Passive House. What’s the difference?



I’m sure you’ve heard the term PASSIVE DESIGN & PASSIVE HOUSE? – Well here’s what it’s all about.


Let’s start with three common questions that may help you understand their differences.


What’s the difference between the two terms?

What is the best option?

How do I know which to choose?


A brief overview of their differences.


Passive Design, in a nut shell, is a set of design principles. These include, orientation, shading, insulation, glazing, thermal mass, passive heating and passive cooling. When consideration is made to best adopt these principles to your home design you will see significant improvement in year round comfort and efficiency.

Passive House, on the other hand, is a building standard. Your home will be designed and constructed to reach the highest standard of comfort and air quality in the world. The use of building science and complex mathematics precisely calculates the efficiency performance of your new home. We have more information on this in our upcoming E Books soon to be available on our website.


What is the best option?


Let’s get straight to the point……..The answer is Passive House! That being said Passive House uses Passive Design principles (along with many other criteria and construction details) to help reach its vigorous criteria to achieve Passive House Standard. Where Passive house out performs Passive Design is in the detail. Air tightness and thermal bridging is accurately calculated and absolutely minimised. Air quality is managed using mechanical ventilation to achieve the highest standard. Products used such as specialized windows, draft sealing, insulation, and more, are independently tested by the Passive House Institute to ensure they meet the exact performance that’s required.


Which should I choose?


Firstly, Passive House is in its infancy in Australia. This is great news for the future improvement of building standards. Around the world we have seen the introduction of Passive House having a progressive influence on established building standards. The down side has been the cost, and initial complexities that early adopters can face.


At Passive Builders we are introducing Passive House details that work best with Australia’s traditional building techniques. Simple changes in the way we design wall junctions and an understanding of thermal bridging, and how to minimise, can be easily adopted. Alongside Passive Design principle’s we are creating a new standard in quality and comfort assurance.

Our goal is a ‘high performance’ home. A home that has evolved from traditional building methods for absolute comfort, efficiency and quality.


Photo credits: Passive House institute Germany,


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