Wup­per­tal 2021

30 years old ˗ more rel­ev­ant than ever!

25th In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce: en­ergy ef­fi­ciency is the key

Click to view on Youtube (Google).

Pass­ive House is cel­eb­rat­ing its 30th birth­day – and is more rel­ev­ant than ever be­fore. The 25th In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce de­mon­strated how im­port­ant it is to im­ple­ment cli­mate pro­tec­tion in build­ings on a large scale. The Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te mod­er­ated the an­niversary con­fer­en­ce live in the His­tor­ic Town Hall of Wup­per­tal, for the par­ti­cipants it took place on­line. The re­search in­sti­tu­te em­phas­ised the key role that en­ergy ef­fi­ciency plays for cli­mate-com­pat­ible build­ing stock. The at­mo­sphere be­came cel­eb­rat­ory dur­ing the triple ju­bilee and the present­a­tion of the Pass­ive House Award 2021 to 14 awardees in total. To­wards the end, the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te an­nounced that the 26th In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce would take place in Spring 2023.

Pivotal role of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency

Around 700 par­ti­cipants re­gistered for the 25th In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce, which took place mainly on­line due to rising COV­ID-19 case num­bers. In a joint present­a­tion, the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te ex­plained the key role that en­ergy ef­fi­ciency plays in cli­mate pro­tec­tion. Through ex­tremely en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings, it is pos­sible to re­duce CO₂ emis­sions in the build­ing sec­tor sig­ni­fic­antly. However, so far, not enough at­ten­tion has been giv­en to en­ergy ef­fi­ciency in the con­struc­tion in­dustry, ex­plained Pro­fess­or Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te. A high level of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency is also re­quired for build­ing re­fur­bish­ments which are ne­ces­sary on a large scale in or­der to achieve a cli­mate-neut­ral build­ing stock.

Prof Feist and others explained that it is not possible to continue with the “business as usual” (BAU) if we are to meet our climate goals.
The energy efficient EnerPHit standard is better for building renovations, as explained by Dr Jürgen Schnieders of the Passive House Institute. In contrast, the statutory requirements in the German Building Energy Act stipulate an unambitious standard.

If you do it, do it prop­erly!

However, the Ger­man Build­ing En­ergy Act (GEG) stip­u­lates an un­am­bi­tious stand­ard that does not do justice to cli­mate pro­tec­tion ob­ject­ives, ex­plained Dr Jür­gen Schnieders of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te. In the case of build­ing ren­ov­a­tions, in terms of total costs, it is the most eco­nom­ic­al op­tion to im­ple­ment the more am­bi­tious En­erPHit stand­ard which rep­res­ents the Pass­ive House stand­ard for ex­ist­ing build­ings. If the mod­ern­isa­tion of build­ing com­pon­ents is already pending, then these must be brought up to a sus­tain­able stand­ard. In con­trast, an ini­ti­at­ive for ac­cel­er­ated ren­ov­a­tion which sig­ni­fic­antly ex­ceeds the nor­mal re­new­al cycles, is con­sid­er­ably more costly. Even more im­port­antly, the plan­ners and crafts­men re­quired at short no­tice for this are simply not avail­able, ex­plained Schnieders.

Pro­mot­ing high qual­ity

Us­ing spe­cif­ic ex­amples, Pro­fess­or Ben­jam­in Krick of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te showed how im­port­ant it is to re­duce the space heat­ing de­mand of a build­ing first. "What we im­ple­ment today in build­ing con­struc­tion will re­main with us for the next few dec­ades. If I have to re­place the win­dows any­way, then I will have triple glazed win­dows in­stalled. The same ap­plies for the roof and for the wall plaster: if these build­ing com­pon­ents are re­newed, then I should also add thermal pro­tec­tion to these meas­ures," ad­ded Jes­sica Grove-Smith of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te. As an in­cent­ive, it is es­sen­tial to pro­mote only those meas­ures which will lead to a high level of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. Me­dio­cre meas­ures, on the oth­er hand, must not be sup­por­ted any fur­ther, said Grove-Smith.

The studio in the Historic Town Hall in Wuppertal, where the Passive House Institute moderated the 25th International Passive House Conference, the presentation of the Passive House Award 2021 and the jubilee celebrations © Passivhaus Institut
Climate scientist Diana Ürge-Vorsatz illustrated the consequences of climate change, also visually: the flood disaster in Belgium and climatised public space for cooling during a heat wave in Oregon, USA, in the summer of 2021. © Diana Ürge-Vorsatz


Act now!

Facts on cli­mate change were provided by Pro­fess­or Di­ana Ürge-Vor­satz of the UN's In­ter­gov­ern­ment­al Pan­el on Cli­mate Change (IP­CC). The cli­mate sci­ent­ist warned that more and more fre­quent ex­treme weath­er events as a res­ult of cli­mate change should be taken ser­i­ously and that something needs to be done about this. CO₂ emis­sions must be re­duced to net zero, ex­plained Ürge-Vor­satz. The build­ing sec­tor plays an es­sen­tial role in solu­tions for this. Be­sides re­du­cing emis­sions through great­er en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, she called for the trans­form­a­tion of every build­ing with PV sys­tems in­to a mini power plant. "We can­not wait any longer. The next two dec­ades will be de­cis­ive for see­ing how the cli­mate af­fects hu­mans in the next two hun­dred years," stated Ürge-Vor­satz.

An at­tract­ive in­vest­ment

Pro­fess­or An­dreas Pink­wart, Min­is­ter for Eco­nom­ic Af­fairs of the Ger­man state of North-Rhine West­phalia and Pat­ron of the 25th In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce, poin­ted out that build­ings built to the Pass­ive House stand­ard do not only con­sti­tu­te a con­tri­bu­tion to the en­ergy re­volu­tion and cli­mate pro­tec­tion, but also rep­res­ent an at­tract­ive in­vest­ment. The con­fer­en­ce it­self was an im­port­ant plat­form for co­op­er­a­tion and know­ledge trans­fer. Dirk Mobers of the En­ergy Agency of North Rhine-West­phalia (En­er­gieAgen­tur.NRW) and co-or­gan­iser of the con­fer­en­ce called on private per­sons and hous­ing de­vel­op­ment com­pan­ies to build bet­ter than the leg­ally re­quired stand­ard. He de­man­ded also to in­clude sol­ar tech­no­logy in the pro­cess. Mobers men­tioned Ger­man cit­ies like Co­logne and Bonn as ex­em­plary re­gions which had com­mit­ted them­selves to the Pass­ive House stand­ard.

In the Historic Town Hall in Wuppertal: Ernst Uhing, President of the Chamber of architets of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Hartmut Murschall of the Ministry of Economics in NRW, and Dirk Mobers of the Energy Agency NRW (from left to right).
Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner | President Fed­er­al En­vir­on­ment­al Agency Foto © Susanne Kambor

Dis­tricts - a rising trend

In his speech, the Dir­ect­or of the Fed­er­al En­vir­on­ment­al Agency, Pro­fess­or Dirk Mess­ner re­ferred to the so­cial as­pects: en­ergy ef­fi­cient con­struc­tion and ren­ov­a­tion of­fers a high level of liv­ing com­fort which oc­cu­pants rate very highly. "Let us build houses and dis­tricts which are good for the people," said Mess­ner. Dr Hart­mut Murschall of the Min­istry of Eco­nom­ics in North Rhine-West­phalia pre-sen­ted such a so­cial concept: more than 50 cli­mate pro­tec­tion hous­ing es­tates in which as­pects re­lat­ing to en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, ar­chi­tec­ture and urb­an plan­ning play an equal role have already been com­pleted, with an­oth­er 50 planned.

Ven­tur­ing in­to new ter­rit­ory

Lord May­or Uwe Schneidewind ex­plained that the city of Wup­per­tal wished to be­come cli­mate-neut­ral by the year 2035. The Pass­ive House stand­ard rep­res­ents a cru­cial ele­ment for achiev­ing these am­bi­tious goals. En­vir­on­ment­al sci­ent­ist Ernst Ul­rich von Weiz­säck­er posed the pro­voc­at­ive ques­tion of wheth­er the con­struc­tion in­dustry already knew that the cli­mate had now be­come a very im­port­ant top­ic of dis­cus­sion. As Ernst Uh­ing, Pres­id­ent of the Cham­ber of Ar­chi­tects of North-Rhine West­phalia, put it: "Sus­tain­able con­struc­tion is a part of build­ing cul­ture". Build­ing and ren­ov­at­ing in an en­ergy ef­fi­cient way was a great op­por­tun­ity for build­ing own­ers to re­duce run­ning costs per­man­ently. He called on ar­chi­tects to ven­ture in­to new ter­rit­ory and im­ple­ment in­nov­at­ive design ap­proaches "step by step and brick by brick".

Ju­bilee cel­eb­ra­tion

Most of the 14 win­ners of the Pass­ive House Award 2021 par­ti­cip­ated via video stream to re­ceive their awards from the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te in Wup­per­tal in a vir­tu­al awards ce­re­mony. A total of 87 in­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House pro­jects were sub­mit­ted for this ar­chi­tec­ture com­pet­i­tion. This was fol­lowed by the triple ju­bilee cel­eb­ra­tions for the 30th an­niversary of the first Pass­ive House build­ing, the found­ing of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te 25 years ago, and the 25th edi­tion of the In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce, in­clud­ing in­ter­views on the back­ground his­tory and the match­ing cake.

The winners of the Passive House Award 2021 were present mostly online and celebrated with the conference participants.
Two of more than 100 presentations at the #25intPHC: Modernisation of a school in Italy to the EnerPHit standard.

100 speak­ers

Dur­ing the 4 days of con­fer­en­ce, more than 100 speak­ers de­mon­strated the di­verse ways in which en­ergy ef­fi­cient con­struc­tions and re­fur­bish­ments have been im­ple­men­ted all around the globe. In a total of 16 lec­ture ses­sions, they presen­ted new pro­jects and dis­tricts built to the Pass­ive House stand­ard and ret­ro­fits to the En­erPHit stand­ard, from around the world: in­clud­ing Spain, Italy, Canada, Po­land, the United King­dom, Aus­tria and China. Eco­lo­gic­al build­ing ma­ter­i­als, so­cial hous­ing con­struc­tion, sum­mer com­fort and vent­il­a­tion con­cepts were also dis­cussed in de­tail in sep­ar­ate lec­ture ses­sions. 


Anchored in policies

Edu­ca­tion and fur­ther train­ing, as well as strategies for even great­er an­chor­ing of en­ergy ef­fi­cient con­struc­tion and ret­ro­fit­ting in policies and ad­min­is­tra­tion, were also fo­cal points of the 25th In­ter­na­tion­al Pass­ive House Con­fer­en­ce. Suit­able com­pon­ents for cli­mate-friendly con­struc­tion were presen­ted by man­u­fac­tur­ers dur­ing the ON­LINE Pass­ive House Ex­hib­i­tion, in­clud­ing win­dows and vent­il­a­tion sys­tems. A vir­tu­al ex­cur­sion show­cased im­press­ive Pass­ive House pro­jects in Wup­per­tal and the sur­round­ing re­gion.

Experiences gained with the first certified Passive House building in Romania.
Jan Steiger, member of the management team, presents the long-awaited PHPP10

PHPP 10 re­leased

A par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing piece of news for de­sign­ers of Pass­ive House pro­jects was an­nounced at the con­clu­sion of the con­fer­en­ce: the tenth up­date of the en­ergy bal­ance tool PHPP has been re­leased. Among oth­er things, PHPP 10 takes in­to ac­count heat pumps as well split units and in­cludes a stress test for sum­mer com­fort. In ad­di­tion, PHPP 10 makes it pos­sible to com­pare the en­ergy bal­ance with meas­ured con­sump­tion data. The Eng­lish lan­guage ver­sion of PHPP 10 is planned for Spring 2022.


For the next conference to take place earlier in the year again, the 26th International Passive House Conference will be held in Spring 2023.