Energy-efficient buildings don’t happen by accident. By taking a proactive approach from the onset of a project, designers, engineers, and builders can work together to meet sustainability goals…and “Passive House Certification" can help. While the term might sound technical, it represents a remarkable achievement in architectural design that blends comfort, eco-friendliness, and durability. Read on for more about the world of Passive House Certification and the Passive House Institute of the United States (PHIUS).


Originating in Germany during the late 1980s, the Passive House movement was fueled by concerns about energy waste and the environment and led to the founding of the Passivhaus Institut (Passive House Institute). This milestone marked the inception of an approach that would redefine the ecological footprint of architectural practices. In 2007, the Passive House Institute of the United States (PHIUS) emerged as the standard-bearer of Passive House Certification in the United States. PHIUS tailored the Passive House model to align with regional climate variations. PHIUS further refined the Passive House criteria for the U.S. by introducing the PHIUS+ certification. This certification goes beyond the original principles, placing greater emphasis on climate-specific design and resilience. In addition to the core Passive House principles—insulation, airtightness, ventilation, energy-efficient windows, heat recovery, and orientation—PHIUS+ considers factors like renewable energy sources, water efficiency, and occupant health and comfort.

Core Passive House principles in action:

  • Insulation: The walls, roof, and windows are designed to keep warmth in during winter and heat out during summer.
  • Airtightness: Buildings are tightly sealed to prevent unwanted air from sneaking in to maintain a consistent and comfortable indoor temperature.
  • Ventilation: Special ventilation systems exchange indoor and outdoor air while recovering the heat from the outgoing air to keep energy waste at bay.
  • Energy-Efficient Windows: Windows are designed and tested to ensure they let sunlight in to warm the space, but they also keep the cold air out.
  • Heat Recovery: The heat from the outgoing air gets captured and used to warm up the incoming fresh air.
  • Orientation: Buildings have windows facing the sun to let them soak up the sun's warmth during the day, reducing the need for heating.

Why does it matter?

The evolution of Passive House Certification, spearheaded by organizations like PHIUS, holds significant implications for the future of architecture and environmental sustainability:

  • Adaptation: PHIUS has paved the way for the global adoption of Passive House principles by demonstrating their adaptability to diverse climates and building practices.
  • Affordability: Passive House buildings often require less energy for heating and cooling, resulting in lower utility bills and making eco-friendly living more affordable.
  • Environmental Impact: By reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, Passive House-certified buildings contribute to a greener planet and a healthier future.
  • Resilience: The PHIUS+ certification's focus on resilience equips buildings to withstand the challenges posed by climate change, creating more robust and durable structures.

Where do we go from here?

As part of the Wight Sustainability Standard, Passive House is one of the tools we use to help every project meet its energy goals. As we look towards a future that demands sustainable solutions, these certifications stand as a testament to human ingenuity and the power of collaboration. Wight is proud to have three Certified Passive House Consultants (CPHC®) in-house, working side by side with their peers, to ensure we are taking an active role in creating a more sustainable built environment. Passive House Certification can lead to a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow.

To learn more about PHIUS, visit