Passive Building Strategies for Commercial Buildings

Passive House design is the most effective design approach to reducing building energy use.


AUROS Group provides Certified Passive House (CPHC) Services


The Passive House design movement has been the most effective design approach to reducing building energy use for over 25 years around the globe. Although Passive House design began in residential buildings, it is now widely used in many other building types including offices, hotels, libraries, museums, and schools. The passive building strategies developed by the Passive House Institute include a quantifiable performance standard that can be implemented in most building types. Buildings that meet this high-performance building standard use dramatically (up to 80%) less energy and provide better indoor air quality and thermal comfort than those designed to conventional codes. This design approach also provides greater resiliency and survivability during extreme weather events.


Passive building strategies lower the amount of operating energy in a cost-effective manner by applying conservation measures first. In this way, it is practical to supply all building’s energy needs with relatively low levels of renewable sources. As a result, passive building strategies are the ideal foundation for zero energy buildings.


A Passive House design relies on a few foundational principles to achieve extreme energy efficiency, comfort, and resiliency.


Air-tightness: the building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air as well as ensuring moisture free assemblies.

Balanced ventilation with Energy Recovery Ventilation: some form of balanced heat and moisture recovery is required in most climates.

Thermal Bridge-Free construction: the building envelope is designed to eliminate thermal bridges. (A thermal bridge is a highly conductive material that extends from within a building’s envelope to the outside air.)

Continuous insulation: higher than typical levels of continuous insulation are included through the entire envelope.

High-Performance Components: high-performance windows (typically triple-paned for cold climates) and doors provide thermal comfort and building durability.

Shading and Solar Design: solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating while shading elements work to minimize overeating in cooling seasons.


Passive building strategies are low-tech, with few moving parts, so buildings are durable and have minimal maintenance needs. Passive House design carefully models and balances a comprehensive set of factors—including heat emissions from appliances and occupants—to keep the building at comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures throughout the heating and cooling seasons, using as little active energy input as possible.


Passive building strategies do not radically differ from conventional building, but require special balancing and care through both the design and construction stages. The passive building designer uses software and design methods to adjust multiple variables—insulation R-values, wall construction parameters, etc.—until the design model meets the energy performance targets. Construction crews must learn and apply approaches to air sealing and thermal bridges. As a result, to ensure performance, a project will undergo stringent third-party quality assurance and quality control inspections, including final testing and commissioning of the mechanical systems.


AUROS360 provides Passive House projects additional infrastructure to ensure goals are met post-occupancy. AURO360 takes an Evidence-based Performance approach to connecting planning to operations using digital display of actual performance versus sustainability goals. AUROS360 also uses an Owner’s Decision Matrix (LINK) for decisions made before, during and after construction. The Owner’s Decision Matrix balances sustainability goals with first costs and long term operating costs.


The challenge for most passive house projects is that long-term operating costs are not typically addressed during planning or construction. Most designers believe that “investing in the envelope never pays”. The Owner’s Decision Matrix provides a data driven pathway to Passive House strategies.


AUROS360 ensures that an owner will never make a sustainability decision on a project without fully understanding the impact of that decision on first costs and long term operating costs.


Passive House and AUROS360 combine a depth of building science with transparent, data-oriented, decision-making


We deliver Evidence-based Performance to building owners, developers and architects. www.aurosgroup.com.

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AUROS Group
243 East Main Street
Carnegie, Pennsylvania 15106

info@aurosgroup.com

Tel: 412.506.6777

Get in touch: 412-506-6777