In 1996 I was invited to give a talk at the International Passive House Institute Conference in Darmstadt, Germany. It was a huge event, and has grown since then. The Passive House Institute was created by Wolfgang Feist, a physicist, like a lot of energy efficiency pioneers. There is an article about passive houses and the institute in today’s NYT. I’m glad to see Wolfgang’s work being recognized, and that there is now an American affiliate of the Passive House Institute.
Passive houses are ultra-efficient and have no or minimal heating or cooling systems. The only mechanical systems are heat exchangers to ventilate while retaining heat. Wolfgang invited my family to his house (below) for dinner, and he joked that his house was so efficient that if it got cold all he had to do to warm it was invite some friends over. (Hmmm–it was a cold November night…is that why he invited us?…).
Wolfgang’s original passive house (a fourplex) in Darmstadt, built in 1991: