Passivhaus Affiliate

Are Passivhaus buildings healthy?

At the end of January, the Trust held an annual light-hearted New Year debate, toasting in 2018 and looking beyond energy efficiency to tackle a hot topic – Healthy buildings.

Are Passivhaus buildings healthy

Are Passivhaus buildings healthy? ©Passivhaus Trust

Thanks to our speakers who shared a wealth of knowledge! The short presentations highlighted the complexity of the subject and the need for more research & evidence.


Are Passivhaus buildings healthy? Alex Baines, The Design Buro Are Passivhaus buildings healthy? Chryssa Thoua, Architype - UCL

Let's get the basics right first: air quality & thermal comfort

Alex Baines, The Design Buro

  • Passivhaus is a necessity for the basis of an efficient & healthy building. The healthy outcomes of adopting a high-performance building approach is compelling.
  • Prioritise getting the basics right: Airtightness, thermal-bridges & ventilation. This reduces condensation, mould, damp & improves indoor air-quality. 
  • All buildings should adopt construction verification to ensure they perform as designed.

Passivhaus is not enough: material choices matter too

Chryssa Thoua, Architype/UCL

  • It is important to remember that any ventilation strategy can fail.
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is effected by Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) & persistent pollution from toxic finishing materials.
  • Evidence shared from BUS surveys taken in Passivhaus & energy-efficient case studies.
Are Passivhaus buildings healthy? Richard Duzicki, RDA Architects Are Passivhaus buildings healthy? Ed Wealend, Cundall - WELL building standard

Healthy buildings through Passivhaus & good design

Richard Dudzicki, RDA Architects

  • Architecture does not have to be compromised by Passivhaus performance & quality. 
  • PHPP provides a simple design tool to create comfortable buildings that perform better than typical UK building regulations.
  • Good design equals knowing & working with the project limitations.Lessons shared from London Passivhaus schemes.

Health & well-being: more than building performance

Ed Wealend, Cundall/ WELL building standard

  • There is more to a healthy building than thermal comfort & air quality. Light, acoustics, beauty to name a few other considerations.
  • Although Passivhaus deals with IAQ, it fails to monitor VOC's & air filteration may not protect from polluting small particulates common in large cities.
  • The WELL standard doesn’t address building performance itself; It presumes designers and engineers will resolve these issues.


Question Time

Delegates were asked to vote on the questions below, indicating whether they were swayed one way or the other.

Are Passivhaus buildings healthier than equivalent typical Building Regulation buildings?

YES (90%)

Is achieving Passivhaus sufficient to create a healthy building?

NO/ Don't know (85%)

Can Passivhaus help deliver a healthy building?

YES (80%)

Thanks to London South Bank University for hosting.


Further Information

Event images: Are Passivhaus buildings healthy? ©Passivhaus Trust

UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering - Impressions from 'Are Passivhaus Buildings Healthy?'

13th February 2018

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