Efficient houses and Passivhaus Certification


Efficient houses have become key pieces when it comes to fighting climate change.

They are characterized by being passive, or by combining perfectly with the concept of Passivhaus. Consequently, they make the most of the design of the spaces to promote energy savings.

Although it must be clarified that this type of construction not only promotes environmental care and energy efficiency, but also bioclimatic design, home automation and electrical self-consumption.

In case you don't know, an efficient home is capable of reduce greenhouse gas emissions (the same ones that cause climate change).

So they are sustainable constructions that prevent further warming of the planet. Without a doubt, they are projects that maintain great synergy with ecology and self-sustainability.

In this article we will tell you what efficient houses are and why it is so important obtain a Passivhaus Certification currently.


Efficient homes have unparalleled appeal. But the most striking thing is that they are deeply committed to environmental preservation.

We must not forget that modern homeowners are more educated on the issue of pollution and global warmingare trained to make more conscious and eco-friendly decisions, both at the housing, personal and professional level.

Some choose to get around on electric bikes, others avoid fast fashion, and many others invest in property or passive houses.

The latter are also efficient, since they focus 100% on energy conservation.

Simply put, they are designed to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, as well as to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the demand for resources that do not come from renewable sources.

A better quality of life with efficient homes

On the other hand, they raise the quality of life of their inhabitants, and if that were not enough, they help them to save money.

Technological advances and the modernization of many architectural and construction systems have encouraged these sustainable constructions in recent decades.

But there is no doubt that they pose complex challenges, since multiple factors come into play when it comes to success.

From the installation of solar panels to the use of electricity storage systems at home.

And dealing with all these aspects in isolation is an impossible mission. The good news is that energy certifications have already been created that broadly facilitate this work (like the one we present to you in the next section).


This energy efficiency certification has the endorsement of the Passivhaus Institute (the same one that is in charge of evaluating the homes to determine if they adapt to the passive standard).

The concept of passive houses It was developed in Germany in the 80's. At that time it meant a tremendous evolution in the field of energy efficiency.

Today, Passivhaus certification officially recognizes that a house has specific qualities that promote low energy consumption.

These are the requirements that a house must meet to obtain this very important certificate:

  • Airtightness: 0.60 air changes per hour.
  • Maximum heating demand: 15 kWh/m2 per year.
  • Maximum primary energy consumption: 120 kWH/m2 per year.
  • Maximum cooling demand: 15 kWh/m2 per year.

It is important to emphasize that this certificate does not function as an environmental seal or mark.

Actually, It is an advanced methodology which combines the best of design and construction, and which in turn ensures the health and comfort of the owners.


Below you will know the basic principles of the Passivhaus methodology; especially around its design and execution:

1. Thermal insulation

Efficient houses must have excellent thermal isolation. This involves properly insulating ceilings, windows, doors and walls to encourage energy efficiency to the maximum.

Covers must be sustainable and slabs must also be properly insulated. The key is that they have low thermal transmission to regulate temperatures during winter and summer.

Generally, the thickness of thermal insulation depends on the climate, but its ultimate purpose is the same: energy saving.

If the house is isolated strategically and efficiently, its owners could save up to 40% energy.

2. Mechanical ventilation

Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery is essential in an efficient home that wishes to obtain a Passivhaus certificate.

To be optimal, ventilation systems must take advantage of the heat generated by the inhabitants of the house, and also by that generated by household appliances and electronic devices.

What is sought is to preheat the incoming clean air, before expelling the stale air outside the home.

3. Absence of thermal bridges

Thermal bridges are one of the main enemies of energy efficiency. That is why efficient homes must avoid them at all costs.

In this sense, it is mandatory to use materials with high thermal resistanceas well as taking care of the joints between the construction elements.

Likewise, the insulation layer cannot be interrupted. Otherwise, it will seriously impair power transmission.

The goal is avoid unwanted energy gains or lossesin order to stabilize the surface temperatures in the home.

4. Air tightness

The Passivhaus certificate also evaluates the envelope of the house, which must be as airtight as possible.

In that way, the ventilation system mechanics will work more efficiently. Although you also have to be careful with the execution of the joints during the construction phase.

To know the tightness of the home, a pressure test must be carried out. This consists of creating a difference between the interior and exterior of the house, by placing a fan at the main door.

5. High-performance windows and doors

It is necessary that the windows and doors of the efficient houses are of high performance. And for this it is crucial to choose the best materials on the market.

It is most recommended that the windows be double or triple glass. Do you wonder why?

The answer is simple and forceful: glass reflects heat very well, inside the house, during the winter season.

Additionally, you can keep it outside the house during the summer. This means that it is a low-emissive material.

In parallel, they must be chosen low thermal transmittance carpentry materials or resources when making the doors of the house.

6. Bioclimatic design

Bioclimatic design goes hand in hand with efficient houses (including passive houses).

Currently, bioclimatic architecture advocates constructions that They adapt perfectly to the climate of the place where the homes are located.

This involves taking into account aspects such as wind, precipitation or sun exposure.

7. Use of sustainable materials

The most advisable thing is to use sustainable materials throughout the construction project, such as:

  • Compressed earth or rammed earth.
  • Bioplastics.
  • Other construction materials that are characterized by being biodegradable.

These materials are more environmentally friendlyand in addition, its characteristics or thermal properties are of higher quality.

8. Aerothermal

The aerothermal It is a great ally of efficient homes, since it is supported by high-performance installations.

The heat pumps used in aerothermal energy allow the temperature of the home to be kept in an optimal state.

These aerothermal pumps also reduce energy consumption by up to 30% linked to the use of air conditioners, hot water or heating.

Additionally, they are less polluting than conventional boilers. Therefore, they play a vital role in efficient constructions.

9. Home automation

Home automation is here to stay (especially in efficient, passive or self-sustaining constructions).

In fact, these homes usually have smart systems that encourage saving electricity and money.

Smart lighting systems, as well as the use of state-of-the-art thermostats, help homeowners recognize energy consumption patterns on a daily basis.

Then, they can use that information to take corrective measures, or implement immediate actions that optimize energy consumption to the maximum.

10. Self-consumption

The efficient houses They support electrical self-consumption in a dramatic way. For this, solar panels are installed on the roofs, and even small wind generators, which are capable of generating renewable energy.

Today, solar photovoltaic installations on the roof of the home, which have between 3 and 4 kW, can completely satisfy your energy needs.

Another option is to install a small wind turbine to facilitate complementary generation of clean energy.

In addition, it is necessary that the lighting in the home is optimal. To achieve this goal the Lighting installations must be absolutely efficient.


The demand for efficient and passive houses in Spain has experienced a slight increase in recent years.

There are more and more people wondering how much does a passive house cost in this country, or how feasible these works are in today's world.

If you are one of them, we would like to give you some reference information, in order to clear up some doubts.

Today, you need approximately 180,000 euros to build this type of efficient homes in Spanish territory.

Assuming that you will build a house of 150 m2, whose reference value is 1,200 €/m2. But if you want to condition the garden, include a swimming pool or make renovations to the garage, the budget could rise to 250,000 euros.


Efficient houses represent a great investment. And although the return will not happen overnight, eventually you will be able to perceive it and enjoy it to the fullest.

Additionally, you should keep in mind that these constructions tend to revalue significantly over time.

Without a doubt, they have great potential for growth in capital gains, which would mean enormous benefits in the future.

If you live in Spain and want to investigate more about efficient houses, or about Passivhaus Certification, we invite you to contact to CMYK Architects.

This architecture studio and its professionals will offer you comprehensive and personalized advice.

Lastly, don't forget to join our community of Facebook. In this way we share useful and updated information about Architecture, Design and Construction.

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