Passive House applies to all building types and can fit any architectural style. (Don't be fooled by the "house" in the name...in the german Passivhaus, the “haus” connotes “building”.) A Passive House can be a Single Family Home, a duplex, a townhouse complex, multifamily, an apartment block, a school, a museum, a firehall, a retail store, a hospital, an industrial facility, a high-rise office tower…pretty much any building type you can imagine. The Passive House approach is perfect for larger buildings because they have inherently more efficient geometries: as a form gets larger, the ratio of its surface area to its volume decreases. For a larger building, that means that the ratio of its envelope (walls, roof, and foundation) to its interior (the spaces that need to be thermally conditioned) decreases. Because Passive House is an envelope-first approach to high performance building, this lower ratio of envelope to interior space makes it easier to achieve Passive House performance in larger buildings.
Unlike checklist-based green building certifications with their long lists of credits covering a wide range of sustainability measures (eg. LEED® credits for bike racks and native plants).
Passive House brings a laser-like focus to building energy performance and quality, specifically to three metrics:
Thermal energy demand (or load), Total energy demand, and building airtightness.
The main criteria that passive homes need to fulfill are as follows, according to Passive House Canada:
Space Heat Demand max. 15 kWh/m2a OR Heating load max. 10 W/m2.
Pressurization Test Result @ 50 Pa max. 0.6 ACH (both overpressure and under-pressure)
Total Primary Energy Demand max. 120 kWh/m2a.