Providing Passivhaus: Post occupancy evaluation of certified Passivhaus homes in the UK

Rachel Mitchell, Sukumar Natarajan

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Highly insulated and airtight homes designed to reduce energy consumption, are perceived as having a greater summer overheating risk than less insulated homes. If true, dwellings built to the well-known low-energy Passivhaus standard could be at greatest risk due to the use of superinsulation, especially as the climate warms. Existing studies are inconclusive and even contradictory, mainly due to small sample sizes. Hence, this paper presents the first large-scale overheating risk analysis of UK Passivhaus dwellings using high-resolution internal temperature data from 82 homes across the UK. Both the Passivhaus and the recently published CIBSE TM59 criteria are analysed. Results show that the whole-dwelling Passivhaus standard, which uses a fixed temperature threshold, is met more frequently (83%) than when applied on a room-by-room basis (e.g. only 60% of bedrooms in houses meet the standard). TM59-1A, which uses an adaptive temperature threshold, is easier to meet with 100% of flats and 82% of houses in compliance. However, 55% of bedrooms assessed under TM59-1B fail, with little difference between flats and houses. This is a remarkable finding given that the summers under consideration were either typically mild or cooler than average, and that sleep impairment can significantly affect both physical and mental health. These results suggest that highly-insulated dwellings such as Passivhaus, should consider overheating in individual rooms, rather than at whole-dwelling level. Analysis should be undertaken throughout the year with particular attention to bedrooms, using either the good-practice PH-5% exceedance threshold which maps well to TM59-1B, or TM59-1B itself.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2018


  • Passivhaus
  • Post occupancy evaluation


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