Passive House Building Certification: 6 Essentials

Passive House is a performance-based building standard that focuses on the drastic reduction of energy use for space heating and cooling. We`ve wrote an article about all essential points,  an in-depth guide on What is Passive House?

Certification ensures that the building meets strict energy-efficiency standards, proving it is a high-performance structure. This certification shows that the building follows the tough rules set by the Passive House Institute.

Table of Contents

Why certify your  building?

There are multiple benefits to certifying your Passive House building. Here are some of them:

  1. Support: The Passive House Certifier is here to assist you! As previously mentioned, their role is to be your partner in decision-making and to double-check all calculations. This collaboration minimizes the risk of errors and miscalculations.
  2. Assurance: While the Certifier thoroughly reviews everything during the design phase, mistakes can still occur during construction. It’s reassuring to confirm that the building will perform as intended from the outset.
  3. No overspending: Involving a Passive House Certifier ensures an optimized design, eliminating the chance of overspending on insulation, window types, or other components.
  4. Increase of property value: Certification increases the value of the property when renting or selling through independent quality assessment. It proves that the building meets certain criteria for energy-efficiency, comfort and health environment.
  5. Enabling subsidy programs: Certified Passive House verification using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) can also be submitted for subsidy programs in some countries.
PHPP10 cover 2021 Passive House Planning Package

Types of  Passive House Building Certifications?

There are 3 types of Passive House Certification – Certified Passive House, EnerPhit (certified retrofit) and PHI low energy buildings and the difference is:  

  • Certified Passive House: This certification is applicable for new buildings. Depending on whether or not the building produces renewable energy on-site, it can be classified as Classic, Plus or Premium.
  • EnerPHit/ Certified Retrofit: This certification is applicable when existing buildings are retrofitted. Depending on whether or not the building produces renewable energy on-site, it can be classified as Classic, Plus or Premium.
  • PHI Low energy Building: Standard suitable for low energy buildings that, for various reasons, do not fully comply with the more ambitious Passive House criteria.

Who is involved in the Passive House Building Certification?

  • Passive House Designer/Consultant: Their responsibilities include maintaining communication with the project’s client (whether architect or homeowner). They make the whole energy modelling in the PHPP software (and designPH), provide advice on window frame and glass types, insulation thickness, and other design aspects impacting energy efficiency, and consult with the architect to optimize the building’s design to meet Passive House criteria. If you wish to become a Passive House designer or Consultant we recommend following a specialized Course to learn everything you need to know to become a Certified Passive House Designer/Consultant and start designing.
  • Passive House Certifier: Double checking all files and calculations from the beginning, supporting the decision-making process, making sure that if the building is built, as it is designed, it will perform in the way that the energy model shows. Passive House School is an accredited Certifier. If you are interested in certifying your building, you can reach out to us here and send us a request for an offer.
  • Passive House institute: The institute facilitates the process via an online platform and will, at the last stage, issue the certificate.

What is the process of building certification?

When starting a new project, it’s essential to decide early on whether you want the building to be certified. This decision will help you assemble the right team from the beginning.

If the project`s architect is not a Certified Passive House Designer, then a Certified Passive House Consultant must be involved. Moreover, a Certifier must be included in the process as well, as a single person cannot serve as both a Certifier and Designer/Consultant.

Let’s quickly outline the process assuming the architect is not a Certified Passive House Designer:

  1. Initial design phase: When the initial design begins, the Passive House Consultant will conduct preliminary energy balance calculations and provide optimization recommendations regarding orientation, insulation thickness, window size and placement, and more. These recommendations are also reviewed with the Certifier to gain further insights and ensure the outlined strategy will be effective if followed.
  2. Technical design: This process continues throughout the design development, with the energy model becoming increasingly detailed over time. During the technical design stage, various components are optimized for both energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. For example, the exact types of windows are selected, details are refined to eliminate thermal bridges, and the specific type of ventilation system is chosen.
  3. Final design phase: As the design is finalized, the consultant will make a detailed energy model of the building, considering all factors like thermal bridges, domestic hot water, heating and cooling systems, exact components and materials used for the building envelope. The Certifier will then double-check these calculations and upon approval, the construction phase can commence.
  4. Construction Phase: During the construction phase it`s necessary that the consultant monitors the execution of the design in regards to the energy efficiency of the building. In case some unexpected challenges come up, the experience of the Certifier comes in handy.
  5. Finalization and Certification: As the building nears completion, a final blower door test is conducted, and the required documentation is submitted to the Certifier via the online certification platform of the Passive House Institute. If the building meets the criteria, the investor/homeowner receives a Certificate with an ID number, a booklet, and a wall plaque.
Passive House Certification plaque

By following this structured approach, you can ensure your project will meet the Passive House certification criteria and achieves certification successfully.

In module 1 of our Passive House Designer/ Consultant course this process is covered in full detail.

Here is a visual of the process: 

Passive House Building certification process diagram

What are the Passive House Certification requirements?

Every Building can be Certified Passive House as long as it meets the certification criteria. 

below are the certification Criteria per type:

For the complete Passive House certification criteria, please refer to the official Certification Criteria Booklet.

What documents must be submitted?

The following documents must be submitted:

  1. Drawings (pdf or dxf format) incl. details are necessary
  2. Comprehensible area allocation (TFA, thermal envelope, …)
  3. PHPP in Excel format, which worksheets must be filled in.
  4. Product specifications, lambda values required, CE mark, two decimals, certificates for all components
  5. Pictures of all energy efficiency-relevant details
  6. Blower door test test protocol
  7. Ventilation adjustment protocol
  8. Construction manager declaration


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