Passive House: A Climate Responsive Building Standard

Discussions abound in the US, including commentary that the Passive House standard needs to be more responsive to the demands of local climate in relation to cooling and heating.
What many people might not be aware of, however, is that the international Passive House standard does indeed adapt to local challenges based on the loads for heating, sensible cooling and latent cooling. Don’t be mistaken, therefore, that Passive House is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

pha-world-map-01Taking a look at the table below, as an example, the cooling demand for Passive House projects is not fixed at 4.75 kBtu/ft2.year (15kWh/m2.year) but varies hugely from region to region. In hot climates such as Madrid, the threshold is indeed 4.75, but in Miami Florida, the threshold rises to 3.5 times that.

On the heating front, in extremely cold climates where it is not possible to reach the space heating demand of 4.75 kBtu/ft2.year, there is the flexibility to certify projects according to the heating load of 3.17 Btu/hr.ft2.

That’s the international Passive House standard for you: your science-based, comfort assuring, healthy and super-low-energy flexible friend.

City  Country

Total Annual Cooling Demand (sensible + latent)



Manila Philippines 22.51 71
Melbourne Australia 4.75 15
Miami (FL) USA 16.48 52
Acapulco Mexico 22.51 71
Seoul Korea 6.02 19
Austin (TX) USA 6.97 22
Madrid Spain 4.75 15
New York (NY) USA 5.39 17
Beijing China 6.02 19
Shanghai China 7.60 24

Dispatched by Tomas O’Leary from Beijing, China where the cooling demand is not 4.75 but 6.02 kBtu/ft2.year ;-)

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