151: Passive House is Here

Team South Pacific, members of the Australian Passive House Association and the Passive House Institute of New Zealand came together in Melbourne for the second South Pacific Passive House Conference.
Team South Pacific, members of the Australian Passive House Association and the Passive House Institute of New Zealand came together in Melbourne for the second South Pacific Passive House Conference.


There’s so much that could be said about two days of great Passive House presentations in Melbourne, but I’ve challenged myself to boil it down to one point per presentation. If there was one takeaway from the second South Pacific Passive House Conference, it was that Passive House has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s going to grow, because it works!


Bronwyn Barry, One Sky Homes

  • In warm climates, reduce glazed area and incorporate shading to make Passive House work.

Roger Joyner, Passive House Consultant

  • We used to ‘manage’ our homes during the day. Now we need houses that can manage themselves.

Luc Plowman, Detail Green

  • Get a good designer on board early and use the amazingly accurate Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software.


Priscilla Besen, Ideal House Post-occupancy Results

  • Passive House works! (Even in the southern hemisphere and in warm, humid climates.)

Fergal White, Pidcock, Passive House in Canberra

  • Thermal breaks are important, especially when connecting walls to the slab and the roof.
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Dr Kara Rosemeier, Multi-unit Residential Passive Houses

  • As with other residential building, Passive House can work. Just know where the boundary of the thermal envelope is.

Andrew Michler, Author and Consultant, Hyperlocalization

  • Passive House can work anywhere (and he’s got stunning photos from around the world to prove it).

Peter Steudle, European Timber Windows

  • Get more specific with your design and product selection than the local code implies. Climates zones in Australia and New Zealand are very ‘dumbed down’.

Jessica Hogg, Inhabit, Passive House Glass Selection

  • Good quality window frames are key elements to ensure healthy surface temperatures in your home.

Elrond Burrell, Architype, Passive House at scale and on budget

  • Get the whole team involved early on and you can design a beautiful building to Passive House standard at no extra cost.


Peter Smithdale, Achieving Airtightness

  • Keep the design simple

John Iliffe, eHaus, Build Costs of Residential Passive Houses

  • Building to Passive House standard will cost about the same as a high end architecturally designed home, but the payback could be as little as two years.


Guy Shaw, Affordable Passive House

  • ‘Affordable’ Passive House is achievable.


Raphael Vibert, Passive House at Scale

  • There is no sustainability without comfort and wellbeing

Glenn Murdoch, Vicus Design.

  • Christchurch now has a Passive House (amongst the “sea of mediocrity”)

David Ritter, Passive House in China

  • China gets, and is adopting Passive House the only way they know how – big time!

Passive House 2017

Want to learn more? Stay in touch in both Australia and New Zealand, and register to stay informed as soon as early bird tickets become available for the 2017 event in Christchurch. Not to be missed!

Australian Passive House Association

Passive House Institute of New Zealand



  • Duncan Firth

    Interesting and insightful explanations from Bronwyn on PH, nicely curatored as usual.

    Glad Bronwyn mentioned the importance of vernacular design and the specific importance of shading, relative to specific climate types. Has such a significant impact of houses, how we live in them and overall longevity. To have a site specific environmental house, using PH technology and strategies makes sense.

    Don’t think the large windows/ openings, for indoor or outdoor flow are going to be disappearing any time soon, even if we only use them 90% of the time. Keep in mind, people do like to look out of them!

    • mcutlerwelsh

      Yes Duncan, and I think people like the look ‘of’ large windows (as well as looking ‘out of’ them).

      I like the concept of good design framing a view from the inside looking out, perhaps using a smaller window to focus attention on a particular feature rather than just a wall of glass.

      But I take your point. When has logic ever played a role in influencing fashion?

  • Duncan Firth

    Hi Matthew, That’s true, fashion often dictates at the expense of other things. Happens all the time. All comes down to how things are designed, what they are designed for and what people value.

    Most often than not, its appearance driven first, followed by function and comfort. That’s how most clients initially judge, even the green ones! The trick is to find a balance between all, which is possible. Large windows are great for outdoor living and view; people always get a buzz from them, even more so if it’s warm inside during a cold winter. No reason why PH design can’t do the same, through a good design approach.

    But sure, small windows serve an important purpose (minimise heat loss and retain heat inside) and can be designed to look good while working with view. All depends on what floats your boat.

    • mcutlerwelsh

      I think the trick is to communicate to clients what will float their boat once the project is complete, winter arrives and they’re in their home. This may different from what they think floats their boat when looking at pictures or concepts. Tricky.

      • If you want comfort buy new furniture.

    • Personally I like a well ventilated house.

  • Passive House Construction seems to be mostly Wood Framing, but Modern Construction has many Flaws. The biggest is Fire and is http://bit.ly/1QcIVsS http://bit.ly/1QcJ4Nd

  • Lets face facts here, the name should reflect fact and the name should be “Mechanical House”.

    • mcutlerwelsh

      I have heard this suggested. The naming does cause some confusion.

  • So this is why Wood Rots, moisture.

  • Passive House is pure factual BS that has been around forever. The only fact is that Passive was discovered first in Canada eh!

    • mcutlerwelsh

      I like the fact that it’s relevant everywhere.

      • I’ve said this before, Stupidity is Universal.

        George Hawirko
        *http://about.me/StyroHome *