Wolfgang Feist and Passivhaus

Amongst the hubbub of Ecobuild this year I spent an enjoyable hour or so interviewing Wolfgang Feist, the founder of the Passivhaus Institut, for Show House magazine. You can read the resulting article here but, earlier in the day, I’d wandered round the German stands and gathered the thoughts of exhibitors from the birthplace of Passivhaus.

Andreas Hauger, director at window systems manufacture Pazen, explained that about 25% of the company’s windows go into Passivhaus buildings and, in the last three to four years, it has begun exporting its Passivhaus windows to Japan, Canada and the UK.

For timber specialist Müller Blaustein, Passivhaus is a growing market. According to project manager, Benjamin Eisele, about 40% of the houses it builds are to the standard and the company is currently busy in Frankfurt building three sports halls and one school – all are Passivhaus.

Warema International produces sun protection systems such as awnings and external venetian blinds. Regional manager Andreas Otto said that although the Passivhaus market is one they don’t clearly identify, shading has its part to play in reducing the cooling load of buildings.

Henrich Hardieck, sales and marketing for Geoplex, didn’t have direct experience of Passivhaus – Geoplex offers shading analysis of rooftops to establish the potential for photovoltaics – but he did have some interesting anecdotal evidence. While all his friends who live in homes built to Passivhaus standards love the comfort they offer, one said that, when her husband is on business trips, it gets a bit cold because the thermal energy his presence creates is lacking. Her solution? She asks her neighbours round to play cards and after two or three hours the house is warm!

In general terms the view was that Germany is ahead of the UK in energy saving and environmental measures, especially because of what its government has done for the PV sector, but also because “we are very well educated about the environment and energy from the first stages of school”.

Image credit: Müller Blaustein

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