MIZA Architects | Passive House

Passive House

What is Passive House?

Passive House originated in Germany more than 25 years ago, but the concept is even older. In fact, one of the first houses to employ many principles of the PH standard was built in Saskatchewan in the 1970s.

The most commonly cited benefit of a Passive House is a drastic reduction in energy needed for heating, such the house may omit a conventional 'active' heat source, using only 'passive' heat sources such as the windows and 'internal heat gains' from appliances and people.

The primary goal of energy reduction has several appealing side benefits: Passive Houses are very comfortable, are generally of a higher quality than conventional buildings, save money in the long run due to lower energy use, and do their part to contribute to a sustainable future.

At MIZA, we consider Passive House the leading low-energy building standard, and a natural, attainable step toward Net Zero buildings, Living Buildings, and ultimately net-positive, carbon-neutral, energy-independent architecture.

We designed one of the first Passive Houses in Alberta, and were so pleased with the results that we decided to make it one of MIZA's core services.

How does Passive House work?

To achieve this extreme level of energy efficiency, Passive Houses are characterized by a few key features:

1. Solar Orientation
Since passive solar gains offset the energy demand required for heating the house, proper solar orientation and consideration of window placement are critical concerns.

2. Super-insulation
Reducing heat loss means increasing insulation in wall, floor and roof assemblies beyond the code-required minimums. The amount of insulation needed is climate dependent and starts at R-38 — often much higher!

3. High-performance windows and doors
Windows alone can represent 50% of a building’s total heat loss. Passive Houses use high-insulating windows that also allow solar heat gain to warm the house passively. Argon-filled triple-glazed windows with insulated frames are a necessity to meet the standard in Canada.

4. Airtightness
A Passive House is 4-5 times more airtight than typical construction. The standard requires 0.6 air changes per hour (ACH) or less to minimize heat loss from air infiltration and prevent moisture damage.

5. Ventilation and heat recovery
For a long time, houses relied on a 'leaky' building envelope to provide ventilation to occupants. In a Passive House, a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) provides a constant source of fresh air to the home while recovering heat from the exhaust air, again offsetting energy demands for heating.

Passive House Design & Consulting

Whether you're looking for a complete house or building design, or just need a Certified Passive House Designer to consult on your project, we can help.

As a full-service architecture firm, MIZA provides end-to-end design service from initial schematic design to construction administration.

If your project doesn't require the full package, we also offer Passive House consulting services on an as-needed basis, including:

  • general design review to identify potential issues/opportunities

  • energy performance modelling (in the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software)

  • advise on assembly make-up, perform R-value calculations, and offer suggestions to improve performance

  • detail review for thermal bridging and building envelope integrity (air/vapour barrier, thermal performance, etc)

  • assist with material and product selection (e.g. for high-performance windows, doors, and HRVs)

  • assistance with preparation of the Passive House Certification package (if needed)

  • thermal bridge calculations


If this sounds interesting, we’d love to talk with you to see if Passive House would be a good fit for your project.

Contact us.

If you’d like to do some additional research on your own, here are a few good places to start: