Passivhaus Affiliate

Ahead of the curve: 30 years of Passivhaus

With COP26 edging closer, the construction industry is urgently seeking robust solutions to meet pressing climate targets. As a tried and tested solution backed by 30 years of data, Passivhaus has been ahead of the curve, blazing the trail as the gold standard for energy-efficiency in buildings in the UK on the path to net-zero.

Goldsmith Street, Image credit: John Fielding

Goldsmith Street, award-winning Passivhaus scheme

In the same year that many Councils declared a Climate Emergency, Goldsmith Street, the UK’s largest certified Passivhaus residential scheme in the UK to date (2021), was awarded the RIBA Stirling prize for its outstanding contribution to British architecture. Amidst the pressing climate announcements, the winning scheme thrust Passivhaus front and centre in the construction industry, proving that the Standard could be adopted at large scale whilst simultaneously breaking stigmatising social housing sterotypes. No mean feat, this accomplishment was made possible by decades of building performance research and engineering.

Pivot Point, Image credit: Passivhaus Trust


When the understanding of global warming began to surface in the 1970s, building physicist Professor Wolfgang Feist and Swedish engineer Bo Adamson realised the negative impact of fossil fuels as the primary energy source in buildings. It was from this growing disquiet, along with concerns for occupant comfort & health, that the concept of Passivhaus was born. Following the completion of the world's first Passivhaus in Germany in 1991, Passivhaus has greatly increased in popularity over the past 30 years.


World's First Passivhaus, image credit: Passivhaus Institute

The world's first Passivhaus, Darmstadt-Kranichstein, Germany

Originally associated with the delivery of bespoke eco-homes, now three decades later, Passivhaus projects are  spanning large scale developments as well as complex buildings, forming a repertoire of highly efficient and high-quality designs. The international standard is tried and tested, backed by an extensive catalogue of research and evidence from tens of thousands of built case studies. In this time, an array of pioneering Passivhaus projects have emerged, demonstrating the versatility and diversity of the methodology:

Agar Grove, Image credit: Jack Hobhouse

Agar Grove 1a

The Large Project winner of the 2021 UK Passivhaus AwardsAgar Grove 1a, is an ambitious council housing redevelopment in a dense urban setting. The regeneration of a whole estate is adopting a phased approach.


The Enterprise Centre, Image credit: Architype

The Enterprise Centre

The Enterprise Centre provides an innovative non-domestic Passivhaus as part of the University of East Anglia campus and stands as an exemplar of low-carbon architecture, on track to achieve the client's aspirations of a 100 year performance life-cycle.


City of York Passivhaus scheme, Image credit: Mikhail Riches

City of York Passivhaus housing scheme

Drawing inspiration from Goldsmith Street, the City of York is progressing with the development a large scale Passivhaus housing scheme, which aims to provide energy-efficient, comfortable and affordable homes for all by combining new market sale, social rent, and low cost-ownership options.



Now with more than two-thirds of local councils having declared a climate emergency, Passivhaus is being bolstered within local policies to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and recognised as an essential way to achieve climate pledges.

Building upon 30 years of monitoring data, as well as a growing host of supporters along on the path to net-zero, Passivhaus continues to pave the way for energy efficiency in the built environment in the UK. The Trust's ambitions are to remain a beacon for the construction industry over the next 10 years, and accelerate the transition to healthy, high-performance, net-zero buildings:


With new retrofit guidance and a host of exciting Autumn events on the horizon, the Trust aims to gear up the construction industry ready for COP26 and beyond, strengthening the Passivhaus community for years to come. Watch this space.


Further information

iPHA: 30 years of Passivhaus

30 years: The world's first Passivhaus

What is Passivhaus?

Autumn 2021: Dates for your Diary


19th August 2021

Never miss UK Passivhaus news by joining the Passivhaus Trust mailing list Follow us on twitter @PassivhausTrust

< Back To News