Passive house: how to build without central heating

The most widespread standard to building a house that doesn’t require a centralised heating system comes from the Passive House Institute in Germany. Here are the basic precepts.

This article covers:

  • What is a passive house
  • How to design a passive house
  • How to certify a passive house
  • What heating systems are most common in a passive house
  • What other key elements to include when building a passive house
  • The technical requirements of a passive house, including insulation, airtightness and ventilation targets
  • How to tackle overheating
  • Can you have a fire?


Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email

Start to finish: self-building steps

Planning the perfect kitchen