Architecture

8 enchanting homes built to the Passive House standard

The Passive House-certified Kiss House can be put together in just four days
The Passive House-certified Kiss House can be put together in just four days
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The Pop-Up House, by Multipod Studio, is built to Passive House standards
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The Pop-Up House, by Multipod Studio, is built to Passive House standards
The Pop-Up House, by Multipod Studio, can be put together in four days with only a screwdriver
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The Pop-Up House, by Multipod Studio, can be put together in four days with only a screwdriver
Thanks to Pop-Up House's excellent insulation and airtight thermal envelope, no heating is necessary for the home
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Thanks to Pop-Up House's excellent insulation and airtight thermal envelope, no heating is necessary for the home
All that's needed to build the Pop-Up House is a standard electric screwdriver
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All that's needed to build the Pop-Up House is a standard electric screwdriver
The Pop-Up House, by Multipod Studio, is located in the South of France
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The Pop-Up House, by Multipod Studio, is located in the South of France
The Pop-Up House's structure is simple to build and comprises a spruce wood frame, laminate veneer wooden floor, and expanded polystyrene insulation blocks, and everything is held together using wood screws
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The Pop-Up House's structure is simple to build and comprises a spruce wood frame, laminate veneer wooden floor, and expanded polystyrene insulation blocks, and everything is held together using wood screws
The exterior of the Passive House-certified Kiss House can be finished in four different cladding options including timber (larch, cedar, chestnut or others by request)
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The exterior of the Passive House-certified Kiss House can be finished in four different cladding options including timber (larch, cedar, chestnut or others by request)
The Kiss House is Passive House certified and features open-plan living
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The Kiss House is Passive House certified and features open-plan living
The Kiss House features a large modern kitchen, wooden flooring and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Individual bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs on the first floor
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The Kiss House features a large modern kitchen, wooden flooring and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Individual bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs on the first floor
The Passive House-certified Kiss House can be put together in just four days
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The Passive House-certified Kiss House can be put together in just four days
The Kiss House meets Passivhaus standards, which focuses on reducing a home's heating demand and primary energy consumption
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The Kiss House meets Passivhaus standards, which focuses on reducing a home's heating demand and primary energy consumption
The interior and floor-plan can change for each home and the Kiss House  can also be provided as an empty shell
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The interior and floor-plan can change for each home and the Kiss House  can also be provided as an empty shell
Though the El Refugio Inteligente home isn't officially Passive House certified, its annual required heat energy consumption is rated as only 15.05 kWh/sq m, which is roughly in line with Passivhaus' stringent requirements
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Though the El Refugio Inteligente home isn't officially Passive House certified, its annual required heat energy consumption is rated as only 15.05 kWh/sq m, which is roughly in line with Passivhaus' stringent requirements
The low energy El Refugio Inteligente home sports a 4,500 kWh solar array that takes care of all its electricity needs
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The low energy El Refugio Inteligente home sports a 4,500 kWh solar array that takes care of all its electricity needs
The  appliances inside the El Refugio Inteligente home are configured and monitored using an app that works with an Android or iOS smartphone
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The  appliances inside the El Refugio Inteligente home are configured and monitored using an app that works with an Android or iOS smartphone
Though the El Refugio Inteligente home isn't officially Passive House certified, its annual required heat energy consumption is rated as only 15.05 kWh/sq m, which is roughly in line with Passivhaus' stringent requirements
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Though the El Refugio Inteligente home isn't officially Passive House certified, its annual required heat energy consumption is rated as only 15.05 kWh/sq m, which is roughly in line with Passivhaus' stringent requirements
Inside the El Refugio Inteligente home is a living room and kitchen that opens onto the porch, a double bedroom, a bathroom, and a study that can also serve as a second bedroom when required
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Inside the El Refugio Inteligente home is a living room and kitchen that opens onto the porch, a double bedroom, a bathroom, and a study that can also serve as a second bedroom when required
Inside the El Refugio Inteligente home, which was built with green Passivhaus standards in mind
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Inside the El Refugio Inteligente home, which was built with green Passivhaus standards in mind
Stuart Duncan, who designed the Schoolmasters home, told New Atlas that it follows Passivhaus building principles, but that he didn't seek certification as he wanted more flexibility regarding its design
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Stuart Duncan, who designed the Schoolmasters home, told New Atlas that it follows Passivhaus building principles, but that he didn't seek certification as he wanted more flexibility regarding its design
The Schoolmasters home features four bedrooms and three bathrooms, in addition to a lounge, kitchen, dining area, and office
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The Schoolmasters home features four bedrooms and three bathrooms, in addition to a lounge, kitchen, dining area, and office
A look at the living area inside the Schoolmasters home, which follows Passive House building principles
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A look at the living area inside the Schoolmasters home, which follows Passive House building principles
Entrance to the Schoolmasters home, which follows Passive House building principles
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Entrance to the Schoolmasters home, which follows Passive House building principles
Kitchen and dining area inside the Schoolmasters home
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Kitchen and dining area inside the Schoolmasters home
Dursley Treehouse is an elevated 200 sq m (2,152 sq ft) Passivhaus home
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Dursley Treehouse is an elevated 200 sq m (2,152 sq ft) Passivhaus home
Dursley Treehouse features a lightweight balcony that encircles the entire home
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Dursley Treehouse features a lightweight balcony that encircles the entire home
The Dursley Treehouse is a Passive House for a family, built above a series of screwpiles specifically designed for minimal impact on the ground
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The Dursley Treehouse is a Passive House for a family, built above a series of screwpiles specifically designed for minimal impact on the ground
The Dursley Treehouse is a Passive House for a family, built above a series of screwpiles specifically designed for minimal impact on the ground
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The Dursley Treehouse is a Passive House for a family, built above a series of screwpiles specifically designed for minimal impact on the ground
Sitting some 12 m (39 ft) above the ground, the stunning Dursley Treehouse home stretches over three levels
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Sitting some 12 m (39 ft) above the ground, the stunning Dursley Treehouse home stretches over three levels
Dursley Treehouse features floor-to-ceiling glass windows, large open plan living and beautiful slate flooring
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Dursley Treehouse features floor-to-ceiling glass windows, large open plan living and beautiful slate flooring
With 111 sq m (1,200 sq ft) of usable floor space the Casa GG was guided by Passive House principles, but is not yet officially certified
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With 111 sq m (1,200 sq ft) of usable floor space the Casa GG was guided by Passive House principles, but is not yet officially certified
The single-story Casa GG is an appealingly simple structure which takes its place nicely within the surrounding trees
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The single-story Casa GG is an appealingly simple structure which takes its place nicely within the surrounding trees
The low-energy Casa GG comprises six box-like wooden modules
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The low-energy Casa GG comprises six box-like wooden modules
The plain unfussy interior inside the Casa GG contains a single bathroom, kitchen, three bedrooms, plus a dining area, lounge, and garage
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The plain unfussy interior inside the Casa GG contains a single bathroom, kitchen, three bedrooms, plus a dining area, lounge, and garage
The floor inside the Casa GG is concrete
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The floor inside the Casa GG is concrete
The Treehaus in Utah, by Park City Design+Build, was designed to Passivhaus standards
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The Treehaus in Utah, by Park City Design+Build, was designed to Passivhaus standards
The 2,500-sq ft (232-sq m) Treehaus spreads its floorspace over four floors
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The 2,500-sq ft (232-sq m) Treehaus spreads its floorspace over four floors
The Treehaus isn’t a treehouse in the traditional sense, but does provide plenty of opportunity to take in the fresh forest air with the deck spaces created by its revolving form
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The Treehaus isn’t a treehouse in the traditional sense, but does provide plenty of opportunity to take in the fresh forest air with the deck spaces created by its revolving form
The Treehaus isn’t a treehouse in the traditional sense, but does provide plenty of opportunity to take in the fresh forest air with the deck spaces created by its revolving form
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The Treehaus isn’t a treehouse in the traditional sense, but does provide plenty of opportunity to take in the fresh forest air with the deck spaces created by its revolving form
Living area inside the Treehaus
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Living area inside the Treehaus
Living area inside the Treehaus
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Living area inside the Treehaus
The partially camouflaged building suitably named Covert House is claimed to operate within the Passive house standards
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The partially camouflaged building suitably named Covert House is claimed to operate within the Passive house standards
The Covert House boasts sustainable features that include rainwater collection and solar panels
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The Covert House boasts sustainable features that include rainwater collection and solar panels
The two story Covert House was completed in 2014
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The two story Covert House was completed in 2014
Lounge area inside the Covert House
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Lounge area inside the Covert House
The Covert House measures 135 sq m
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The Covert House measures 135 sq m

Today's architects have a lot of considerations to juggle when drawing up new homes, from the aesthetics to the functionality to the environmental footprint. Those placing a priority on the latter will often look to the Passive House standard as a guide, which promotes energy efficiency through air-tightness and insulation. Here we present eight of these low-carbon homes that are particularly easy on the eye.

The Passive House standard started out as a German concept, dubbed Passivhaus, that called for greater attention to the construction elements of glazing and insulation. Using the right materials and engineering, these work together to properly seal interiors and keep internal temperatures stable throughout the seasons.

All that's needed to build the Pop-Up House is a standard electric screwdriver
All that's needed to build the Pop-Up House is a standard electric screwdriver

This in turn keeps the need for artificial heating and cooling systems to a minimum. You can read more about the specifics of official certification over at the Passive House Institute's website. The first Passive House concept popped up in Germany in 1990 and used just eight percent of the heating energy of a standard home at the time. This movement has since grown with thousands of certified Passive Houses being built all over the globe.

And as these homes are continuing to show us, a low environmental footprint certainly doesn't need to come at the cost of attractiveness. We've allowed a little leeway of the interpretation in this roundup, with a couple of those featured following Passive House standards throughout their construction but not yet gaining official certification. We hope you'll forgive us this leniency once you lay eyes on them.

The Dursley Treehouse is a Passive House for a family, built above a series of screwpiles specifically designed for minimal impact on the ground
The Dursley Treehouse is a Passive House for a family, built above a series of screwpiles specifically designed for minimal impact on the ground

Jump on into the gallery to take a look at our picks, where you can also click on the name of the homes in the captions to learn more about them.

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