Can Passivhaus save the planet? Probably not

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding


The buildings sector currently accounts for more than 30% for the world’s final energy consumption and 28% of its CO2 emissions. Despite the numerous building energy codes devised in the last 20 years, the built environment witnessed an average rise of 1.8% per year in its energy consumption and a doubling of its carbon emissions for the same period. Research has shown that the main culprits behind this shortcoming are certain socioeconomic factors such as rising population and income levels, which prompt an increase in buildings’ floor area and alter the way in which energy services are demanded. This research assesses the likelihood of achieving the 2°C target in the world’s built environment if all new buildings were designed and constructed following one of the most stringent building energy codes available today: the German Passivhaus. This is performed through running a dynamic stock-driven model for the world’s building stock covering a total of 125 countries. Results have shown that, even under optimistic assumptions, Passivhaus was not able to counter the increased carbon emissions associated with the sector’s growth and the 2°C target was not met. The implications that this will have for policy makers is that the expectation of meeting our climate change targets through current building energy codes and their conventional progression is not merited, and that a more comprehensive approach – one that reverse-engineers these codes based on the sector’s projected growth – is necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication6th Annual LoLo Conference for Early Career Researchers
Subtitle of host publicationBuilding Energy Resilience
PublisherLoughborough University
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019


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