Last edited 27 Nov 2016

An Introduction to Passive House - review

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Justin Bere - ‘An Introduction to Passive House

Published by RIBA Publishing (2013)


Written by the architect Justin Bere, this introductory guide to the Passive House standard is an accessible and valuable addition to the growing content relating to construction fit for a sustainable 21st century.

The slim and well-presented volume begins with a section called ‘What is Passive House?’ which concisely explores the history and growing prevalence of the Passivhaus Standard. Bere explains that Passive House is a standard for, and advanced method of, designing buildings using building physics to ensure precision, comfort and reduced energy costs, as well as removing guesswork from the design process.

He also presents the opinion that:‘A great 21st century building is one that is beautiful to look at but that also feels good in reality when the power supplies are turned down to almost nothing … I fear that some architects give more priority to how their buildings will look in architectural magazines than to making sure that their buildings perform efficiently and comfortably for the benefit of their occupants.’

The book explores the six methods that form the essential basics of Passive House design:

While the book does not provide a great deal of detail, Bere does set out the context and easy-to-understand basics for those who may not be familiar with the subject.

The second section asks ‘Why Passive House?’, and provides more technical information and discussion covering the renewable energy revolution, integrated design, and capital and whole life costs. Two shorter chapters provide robust primers on air quality and health, and the importance of skills.

The bulk of the book though is taken up with 15 case studies from around the world. These include a variety of different buildings other than houses, including an office, community centre and school, and emphasise the potential that following the Passive House Standard can have in delivering buildings of great architectural merit.

There are eye-catching photographs, details and diagrams throughout that make it a great book to flick through, while providing enough technical information to serve as a worthwhile and engaging introduction, and perhaps as inspiration, to both students and seasoned professionals.

For more information and to purchase the book, please see RIBA Bookshop.

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