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Author: Janna Breitfeld
Passive House Institute, Rheinstr. 44/46, 64283 Darmstadt, Germany
Passive House buildings are often theme in any discussion relating to energy efficiency. The best way to understand what this building standard
specifically entails is to experience it first-hand. Therefore the International Passive House Association – a network of Passive House Institute – organises the International Passive House Open Days where residents of Passive House buildings throughout the world open their doors to the public.
Characteristic features of the Passive House Standard include an excellent level of thermal insulation, triple-glazed windows and a ventilation system with heat recovery, among other things. Due to these components, building owners can dispense of traditional heating systems and thus, save a lot of energy and costs. Thanks to the low energy demand, Passive House buildings can also be combined well with renewable energies.
Many people are curious about this innovative concept but they still have a variety of questions about the functioning and everyday life in a Passive House. What does the living comfort feel like? How low are the heating costs in a Passive House?
For these reasons, the Passive House Institute and its International Passive House Association first implemented the Passive House Open Days in 2003. Passive House residents open their doors to the public every second weekend in November. The Passive House Open Days are a great opportunity for the public to gain valuable knowledge and to experience the high level of living comfort offered by these buildings for themselves and occupants can of course demonstrate that opening the windows is also possible in a Passive House building. It is especially useful for those who want to build or renovate their own homes
Sinfonia partners opened some of their buildings which were retrofitted during the project, among them a social housing and a school building in Innsbruck. The partners offered a tour through the school building where they showed one of the class rooms and explained the ventilation system to the visitors. They even went on the rooftop to see the huge photovoltaic system. Thus, the visitors could see how a contemporary and sustainable renovation of a public building could look like, on both, design and energy efficiency level.
Another tour was organised in a living district of Innsbruck. The 6 buildings were in different stages of renovation so that the visitors could see the different steps of retrofitting. Some facades only started, others were already finished. This is the best way to visualise the renovation steps.
Visiting a Passive House building during the Open Days is easy: if you enter the name of your region or city in the database https://passivhausprojekte.de, a list of buildings which can be viewed will appear. Most privately owned houses will be open to the public, including those in the categories Passive House Plus and Passive House Premium, which produce renewable energy on-site or near the building itself. Other buildings such as schools, offices and even a student hostel will also be open to the public.
The best way to understand what an energy efficient building such as a Passive House specifically entails is to experience it first-hand. Therefore, we recommend to take part in the Passive House Open Days and spread the knowledge and best practices to the widest possible audience.
This article was written in the framework of the EU-funded project Sinfonia and is part of its Set of Solutions giving insight in the experiences and lessons learned from a smart city project.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 609019.