An Introduction to Passive House - review
Justin Bere - ‘An Introduction to Passive House’
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:
- Draught-free construction.
- High-performance windows and doors.
- Heat recovery ventilation.
- Good building commissioning.
- Solutions for both hot and cold climates.
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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Bill Gething and Katie Puckett - Design for Climate Change.
- BIM for Dummies - an interview.
- Charles Waldheim - Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory.
- Fabric first.
- FutuREstorative - review.
- Green deal.
- Home Quality Mark.
- Owen Hatherley - Landscapes of Communism.
Featured articles and news
Green paper published for consultation.
Mental health issues effect 80% of construction workers. Read our interview with the founders of a new wellbeing initiative.
Would Stephenson be disappointed by the lack of progress on the high speed transport of Hyperloop?
The immersive pop-up cinema experience that could revolutionise on-site health and safety training.
5 out of 10 filtering facepieces fail HSE tests.
Eleven Magazine announce the winner and runners-up in their Moontopia competition.
As January is the time for hitting the gym, Designing Buildings Wiki lists the best gym architecture in the world.
London is at the top of the list of global construction megacities, beating Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
What are the innovative business models of the future, and how to incentivise supply chains to work on a whole life basis?