This briefing summarizes the content of two breakout sessions focused on advancing the Passive House building performance standard as a policy framework. The sessions were held in New York City, on June 13th and 14th, 2016, concurrent with the North American Passive House Network annual conference. Public and private policy stakeholders from across North America and Europe attended.

Each session focused on the opportunities and challenges that result from using the Passive House building performance standard as a policy tool. The  first session focused on new construction policies and the second on retrofits. By formalizing the networking that characterizes conferences, and taking advantage of the diverse set of individuals attending the NAPHN conference, the sessions were designed to maximize knowledge sharing and create a fertile environment for progressive action.

The document describes the content of both the professional presentations delivered, as well as the discussions that followed. It also summarizes recommendations for action and suggests steps that might be addressed in future policy round-table sessions.

Executive Summary

The most important point of consensus reached during the policy sessions was the simple fact that the Passive House standard and its retrofit counterpart, EnerPHit, are policy tools that can be successfully utilized to drive down energy use across most segments of the building sector. Accelerating the retrofit of existing buildings was identified as perhaps the most difficult challenge that cities face. There was general agreement that communities should provide guidance to building owners and managers to help them avoid shallow retrofit measures that might preclude future savings and place climate action goals out of reach. To achieve significant progress, comprehensive education and training is needed across all building industry stakeholders, from owners and engineers to contractors and tenants. Acclimating a market sector with so much financial and cultural inertia requires patience and careful planning, especially in large urban markets.

The building sector offers the largest low-cost potential in world regions to lower emissions.Dr. Diana Urge-Vorsatz, Vice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)


  • Multi-Family
  • Passive House / High Performance
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