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Energy Poverty Advisory Hub
News article27 February 2024Directorate-General for Energy1 min read

February Lunch Talk Recap: Passive House and Energy Poverty

‘’Passive house not only reduces energy demand but also improves comfort’’

Passive house was the focal point of EPAH’s March lunch talk, where Sarah Mekjian (Climate Alliance, Outphit Project) and Harald Malzer (Neue Heimat Tyrol, Outphit Project) shared about its potential to alleviate energy poverty, accompanied by case studies and examples.

With an audience of 55 participants, the session explored concepts such as the core principles of sustainable buildings, addressing misconceptions around carbon neutrality and the benefits of passive house design.

With buildings accounting for 40% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, passive house emerges as a compelling solution to address both energy efficiency and energy poverty, highlighted the speakers. Passive house design focuses on reducing energy demands through a combination of low-tech techniques. Key elements include thermal insulation, airtightness, ventilation with heat recovery and thermal bridge-free design. The outcome? 90% energy savings compared to older buildings and 75% compared to low-energy buildings, stressed Sarah Mekjian.

Case scenarios and implementation studies of passive house in Tyrol, Austria made clear the feasibility of living in a low-cost passive house, highlighting that it is possible to achieve this without outstanding investments. These examples, shared by Harald Malzer, stressed the importance of adopting highly energy-efficient building standards in keeping energy costs consistently low for tenants, and preventing energy poverty.

Several local governments are already using passive house principles. The city of Frankfurt legislated that all city-owned or city-built buildings must meet passive house standards from 2007 onwards. These governmental initiatives hold significant influence in setting energy standards.

During the Q&A, audience questions touched on the challenges associated with passive house implementation, particularly in multi-apartment buildings where not all homeowners may be willing to undertake renovations. The speakers highlighted the significance of individual unit renovations and the importance of raising awareness about the long-term environmental and energy benefits of passive house.

The EPAH lunch talk underscored that, as energy poverty and climate change continue to present pressing challenges, the passive house standard is a potential solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, alleviate energy costs for tenants, and enhance overall quality of life.

The content of the lunch talk was informed by the speaker’s involvement in the OutPHit project.


Publication date
27 February 2024
Directorate-General for Energy