Building Passive Houses in Mexico: the LAIF Component of the Ecocasa Program

Elena Reyes Bernal, Javier Flórez, Jürgen Schieders, Susanne Theumer, Passive House Institute

A set of Passive House single-family projects were built in Mexico between 2015 and 2019 in the framework of the LAIF Component of the Ecocasa Program. The component was implemented by Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal (SHF), with financial support from the Latin American Investment Facility of the European Union, and technical assistance of the consortium GOPA Consultants | Passivhaus Institut. This article includes a summary of the objectives, activities and outcomes of the Component.
The aim of the Component was to build houses under the Passive House Standard in order to achieve a reduction of approximately 80% in greenhouse gas emissions. In order to do that, selected project developers were offered:

  1. Economic incentives in the form of bridge credits and a subvention to cover up to 70% of the additional costs related to the energy efficiency measures, managed by SHF.
  2. Technical support provided by the consortium GOPA | Passivhaus Institut, who worked together with local advisors to guarantee that all projects achieve the Passive House standard and are built according to plan.

Eligibility criteria

The projects must fulfil the following requirements to be eligible for the investment grants:

  1. Reduction of 80% in CO2 emissions calculated with the Ecocasa Calculator. The tool adjusts the energy demand to consider the likelihood of using HVAC systems depending on the city where the house will be located, and estimates the reduction of emissions with respect to the baseline set on the NAMA study for new housing [PHI 2012].
  2. High-energy efficiency through the compliance with the Passive House criteria (EcoCasa MAX), and calculated with PHPP 9. This was the highest contribution to the reduction in CO2 emissions.
  3. Cost-efficiency of the implemented energy measures, considering the additional investment needed, and the life-cycle cost analysis as calculated in PHPP 9.
  4. Additional criteria for urban and environmental sustainability, including the proximity to urban centres and reduction in water consumption.

Process of implementation

The implementation began in November 2015 with an open and competitive selection process in which SHF received project proposals from 14 of the most qualified housing developers in Mexico. After a two-stage selection process, SHF and GOPA-PHI chose the top five proposals in May of 2016. The selected developers will take one of their existing prototypes and together with a local consultant, will optimize it to fulfil the criteria stated above. The projects included row houses located in different cities and climate zones in Mexico.

In June 2017, 2 more companies were chosen to take part in the LAIF Component of the Ecocasa Program. The projects, which include an apartment building in Mexico City, will be located in the central part of the country.

**Figure 1 Selected projects to be optimized to the Passive House standard**

In May 2016, representatives from 5 companies selected to build the Passive Houses and the local experts that will be guiding the optimization of the project attended a 5-day course in Mexico City. The course included all the concepts of the Passive House standard and PHPP. The course was led by Javier Flórez from the Consortium GOPA | Passivhaus Institut and Micheel Wassouf, director of Energiehaus Arquitectos.

Figure 2 5-day training in Mexico City on Passive House and PHPP for the project developers and local experts

In September 2016, the Passive House Institute together with the partners of the LAIF Component organized a workshop to present the technologies that could help achieve the Passive House Standard. The workshop was all about bringing together companies interested in building energy efficient houses and manufacturers with technologies readily available in Mexico. The one-day event included 14 manufacturers of different technologies and more than a 100 attendees, who had the opportunity to network with one another and share experiences and ideas. The presentations by Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal and the Passive House Institute are available for download.
By the beginning of 2018, two projects were already under construction, two more had finished the planning phase and 4 more were finishing the optimization process.

In April 2018 the Consortium GOPA | Passivhaus Institut visited the first pilot projects under construction to carry out airtightness tests. For these projects, the local expert assigned to the team supervised the process closely. The expert was also in close contact with the Consortium GOPA | Passivhaus Institut to guarantee that any challenge or problem during construction was identified and solved. These challenges were then noted so that they could be prevented when constructing the next houses.
Overall, the results from the airtightness tests were very good. One of the projects achieved right away a value below the 0.6/h at 50Pa required for Passive Houses. For the others, areas of improvement were detected, and it is expected that the criteria is also met once these are reviewed. Learn more about the visits in the article "On the road to Passive House buildings in Mexico" and read also about the impressions from Micheel Wassouf here.

Figure 3 Pictures from left to right: airtightness testing, houses from HERSO in Morelia, and houses from DEREX in Nogales. Photos: PHI

The LAIF Component ended in 2019 with 30 pilot projects constructed by 4 different companies (see image below). These houses, together with the trained local experts and design and construction teams, as well as the creation of the supply chains for technologies previously not available in the country, are the main outcomes of the program. These will facilitate the dissemination of the concept and show the technical and economic feasibility of the Passive House standard in the different climatic conditions in Mexico. However, initial planning included a higher number of constructed houses which were not carried out. Being one of the first programs that aim at the implementation and financing of social housing with high energy efficiency in a developing country, an analysis of its implementation can draw a light on the key factors for its successful replication in similar contexts. You can find out more about the outcomes of the projects, the technologies used for the different climates and the lessons learned on the article here, and the video of the presentation here.

Figure 4 Pilot projects built in Mexico for the LAIF Component of the Ecocasa Programme

About Sociedad Hipotercaria Federal and the EcoCasa Programme

Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal (SHF) is a Mexican second-tier development bank with the mandate to develop the primary and secondary markets for housing finance, by providing credit loans and guarantees for construction, acquisition and improvement, as well as for increasing the productive capacity and technological development of the homebuilding sector.
In 2013, EcoCasa began operations under the framework of the world’s first Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) for Sustainable Housing, which was launched by the Mexican Government during the COP17 on December 2011 [CONAVI, SEMARNAT 2012]. Since then, SHF, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the German Development Bank KfW, has been running the EcoCasa Programme to promote cost-effective energy-efficient building concepts amongst the housing sector via financing and technical assistance for developers, with a particular focus on affordable housing. Through the Programme, SHF provides low-interest loans, free technical assistance and certification of projects to developers that build affordable homes designed to attain at least a 20% CO2 reduction against a baseline, without passing on extra costs to purchasers. The certification becomes relevant as it is linked to prioritised subsidies, marketing and other business related and reputational aspects.
Carbon savings are sought through the implementation of a range of energy-saving measures, which are evaluated with DEEVi, a simulation tool based on the PHPP, and the EcoCasa calculator. The implementation of the measures is ensured through quality checks on designs and construction procedures performed by SHF [Ashden 2015, Infante 2015]. In doing this, SHF delivers with EcoCasa, a world-class initiative that aims to tackle climate change, permeate sustainability criteria into the residential sector, and improve the quality of life of low- and middle-income households.
In May 2017, the EcoCasa program was granted a special international award at the 2017 KfW Building Award. This is the first time that an international project receives the award; the jury's reasoning was that the initiators of the project succeeded in uniting social and energy efficient housing while contributing to climate protection. Read the whole article in KfW Stories (in German and Spanish).
For more information about the Ecocasa Program, visit the following website or contact us for more information on the Passive House standard in Mexico:


The component was implemented by Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal (SHF), with financial support from the Latin American Investment Facility of the European Union, and technical assistance of the consortium GOPA Consultants | Passive House Institute.


[Ashden 2015]Ashden Case Study / EcoCasa, Mexico. 2015. Retrieved from
[CONAVI, SEMARNAT 2012]Supported NAMA for Sustainable Housing in Mexico - Mitigation Actions and Financing Packages. CONAVI, SEMARNAT, Mexico City, 2012.
[Infante 2017]Infante Barbosa, Ernesto; Reyes Bernal, Elena. EcoCasa LAIF: Introducing social Passive Houses in Mexico. Conference proceedings of the 21st International Passive House Conference. Passive House Institute, 2017
[Infante 2015]Infante, E.: Financing sustainable housing for all: The EcoCasa Programme. 2015. Retrieved from
[PHI 2012]Passive House Institute. Technical Annex: Evaluation of social housing building types in Mexico. For the Supported NAMA for Sustainable Housing in Mexico – Mitigation Actions and Financing Packages. October 2012.

See also Ecocasa and the LAIF Component in the news:

February 2018: EcoCasa Program Outperforms its Green-Building Goals. By Camilo Monge in Clean Energy Finance Forum, Yale Center for Business and the Environment:
2017: Applying the Passive House Standard in Mexico. Albert Beele and Marisa Egea in Passive House Buildings, North American Highlights 2017
May 2017:La “casa eficiente” mexicana. En KfW Stories:
May 2017: Ecocasa LAIF recibe reconocimiento por vivienda social pasiva. En Casas y Terrenos:
May 2017: Reconocen en Austria, programa mexicano de vivienda Ecocasa LAIF. En Hogares Noticia:
May 2016: Ecocasa toma liderazgo sustentable en AL. Mario Vázquez Barrios en Carrusel, Entrevistas:
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