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Cepheus Results: Measurements and Occupants' Satisfaction Provide Evidence for Passive Houses Being an Option for Sustainable Building

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Number 2 (2006)



Passive houses offer extended living comfort with only 1520% of the space heating demand of conventional new buildings while the extra costs of this standard are only about 10% of the total building costs. In the first part of this paper, detailed measurements for 11 Passive House projects with more than 100 dwelling units from the EU-funded demonstration project CEPHEUS (Cost Efficient Passive Houses as EUropean Standards) are presented. All projects exhibit extraordinarily low space heat consumptions. Compared with ordinary, newly erected buildings, 80% of the space heat consumption could be saved. The total primary energy consumption (including household electricity) was less than 50% of that of conventional new buildings. The measurements show that the buildings also offer comfortable indoor conditions in both summer and winter. Several social research studies revealed that the users are well pleased with their homes. The second part of the paper focuses on low-income tenant's satisfaction in the world's first multi-story Passive Houses in Kassel, Germany. This building contrasts sharply with the standard Passive House, occupied by its owners. A 2.5 year study was conducted from spring of 2000 to autumn of 2002. The development of opinions, attitudes, behaviour, and satisfaction over time could be recorded. The building is a clear success, the tenant's satisfaction is high. It is concluded that this building type fulfils the conditions of sustainability in social, ecological and economic respects and should therefore be disseminated on a larger scale. To this end, the last part of the paper describes the development of the Passive House standard in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, from the first demonstration project in 1991 to about 3500 dwelling units today. The prerequisites for this development are analysed. Finally, the authors give their view about the political possibilities for pushing Passive Houses into the market as well as for stimulating a market pull for this comfortable and energy efficient building type.