What is Passive House and how does it fit in with Evolution?

28 November 2016
Posted by: Evolution
Time to read: 3 min

Interest in building better performing homes is heating up faster than a PV panel on an Otago summer day.  Catch phrases and jargon are starting to get thrown about, sometimes diminishing or confusing the definition of a term.  One such concept is Passive House.

Originating in Germany, Passive House, aka Passiv Haus,  is an internationally-recognized standard based on performance.  What determines whether a residence qualifies as a Passive House is not the components, but rather the results.  Passive House buildings are known for their superior comfort and remarkably low heating or cooling energy requirements, using up to 90% less than a regular building.

There are 5 basic principles working together:

  • Ventilation 
  • Insulation
  • Airtightness
  • Thermal Bridge-Free Design (or in layman terms, an even temperature through the entire house, with no cold pockets)
  • Comprehensive Systems with Quantifiable Results

These principles are interconnected, resulting in a house that holds its internal temperature, much like a thermos flask.

What grabs people’s attention most quickly about the concept is that Passive Houses don’t need much, if any, heating element.  Because the thermal envelope functions like a thermos, holding in temperature, the warmth generated from body heat and electric appliances is generally enough to maintain a comfortable temperature inside, regardless of the weather outside.

According to Passive House International Organization, “Passive House stands as the solid basis for a sustainable energy future, combining superior user comfort and healthy indoor environments with minimal energy use.”  In other words, these homes feel good to live in because they are comfortable, affordable to run and environmental. 

These values align perfectly with the theory behind Evolution, a division of Rilean Construction that specializes in energy-efficient homes.  Whilst Passive House has gained momentum internationally, Evolution is targeted specifically towards the New Zealand climate and local availability of materials.

Evolution has offered a balanced approach based on availability and cost of materials as well as expertise, which means the service develops…or evolves…as the market and research changes. 

Most importantly, these concepts are very similar and can be applied simultaneously.  Evolution offers the chance for Kiwis to build a high performing home, from a moderate energy-efficient design to the full-scale Passive House.  The results of both can be measured and prove quantifiably the claims of "warmer, drier and healthier."

Both Passive House and Evolution affect the building’s performance, not its aesthetics.  You can’t see the difference between a modern home built to minimum code and an energy-efficient design.  But you can certainly feel it.  Especially on an Otago winter day. 


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