Understanding Passivhaus


A Simple Guide to Passivhaus Detailing and Design



Learn about the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world


Understanding Passivhaus Cover

What is included?

Understanding Passivhaus is a simple guide to the Passivhaus standard. The book explains the principles behind Passivhaus thinking, and explores numerous construction methods for achieving the Passivhaus standard.
The book features over 60 construction details, in 2D and 3D. All of these details are available to download in CAD and SketchUp format!

What is Passivhaus?

  • Why design a Passivhaus?
  • PHPP
  • Certification

Principles of Passivhaus Design

  • Technical requirements
  • Building fabric
  • Form factor
  • Insulation
  • Thermal bridge
  • Airtightness and air leakage
  • Building services and ventilation
  • Windows
  • Solar design
  • Shading
  • Summer ventilation
  • Roof lights

Types of Construction

  • Masonry construction
  • Timber frame
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS)
  • Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF)
  • Mixed methods of construction

Construction Details

  • Solid concrete with rendered external insulation
  • Insulated concrete formwork
  • Solid masonry with larsen trusses
  • Masonry cavity wall
  • Timber frame with larsen trusses
  • Timber I joist frame
  • SIPS construction
  • Timber frame with external render

Case Studies

A selection of wonderful examples of Passivhaus designs and construction methods, with more case studies added for this second edition.

Download over 60 2d CAD files and over 60 3D SketchUp models!

New for this 2nd Edition:

Not only does the new edition feature more details, more construction methods and more case studies, it also includes another book!

Details: Calculated is packed full of thermal calculations of all the details, with descriptive images and thermal field diagrams. It includes in depth information on thermal bridges, Psi values, window optimisation, fRSI values and plenty more!

Plus, Details: Calculated also includes all the Flixo files for download so you can adjust and edit the files, explore the results and gain a deep understanding of thermal bridging and Psi values.

How this book will help you

  • Gain a better understanding of the Passivhaus standard
  • Understand the basic principles of detailing a Passivhaus
  • Learn about the different construction methods that can be used for Passivhaus design
  • Improve your technical ability
  • Increase your knowledge of one of the fastest growing energy performance standards in the world
  • Save a huge amount of time searching for details 
  • Edit and develop the CAD files into your own detail library
  • Explore the 3D SketchUp files to improve your understanding of the Passivhaus design

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    Who is it for?

    students | graduates | professionals | tutors | professors

    This book is really useful to quite a few different people.
    Students looking to increase their knowledge of Passivhaus and low energy buildings.
    Graduates use the book to take out into the workplace and use as a reference.
    Professionals use the book as a reference as they embark on new low energy projects or their first Passivhaus project.
    Self Builders looking to gain an understanding of Passivhaus design in a clear and visual way.
    The book is also highly recommended by many tutors, lecturers and professors who teach construction at colleges and universities around the globe.

    Hi, I’m Emma…

    This is why I wrote the book

    In the past I have spent many hours searching for details, trying to find an example of a detail so that I can understand the construction a bit better. With Passivhaus becoming more commonplace, and low energy buildings a requirement of our building regulations it is important we embrace the technologies and principles that will help us achieve these standards. 


    After writing four successful construction books (Understanding Architectural Details Residential, Commercial, Basements and Residential Construction Details US Edition) I know that this book Understanding Passivhaus will serve as a useful introduction to Passivhaus design and detailing.

    Exactly what you need


    This is exactly what I have been looking for. Having brought Emma’s previous books, I knew this was going to be informative and easy to read but the level of detail Emma has gone to with this book is amazing.  

    I can’t wait to use this book in my final year at university and throughout my career.

    Jasmine - Architecture Student

    I am glad I stumbled upon your website. I have been looking for a simplified (but still technical) approach to Passivehouse. It looks like you put a lot of work into this book (and the details), I just wanted to let you know work like this is very much appreciated. It will be a big help as I continue on my journey of Passive House design and overall environmentally friendly construction methods here in Canada.

    Wojtek - Architect

    I have just finished reading your book Understanding Passivhaus and wanted to congratulate you on creating something so concise yet useful and comprehensive.

    It was a really useful introduction to the broad principles of Passivhaus design and the further reading list also looks as though it will prove very helpful.

    Matthew - Architect

    Thanks for the ebook. It proved very useful for the Passivhaus Designer exam revision which was my original motivation for the purchase. Looking forward to a more leisurely read through now without the pressure and hopefully applying some of it to upcoming projects.

    Mark - Architect

    Have now received the hard copy of The Passivhaus design book and so far I am impressed, certainly with the clear layout.  I will hopefully start incorporating the CAD/SKP details into my new projects. 

    I have a small Architectural practice working with a partner and I am a Member of CIAT. 

    I am looking now into maybe getting Passivhaus certified designer, hence the interest in your book.

    Dean - MCIAT

    Ms. Walshaw’s book is a crucial addition to the literature on passive house design.  The details are clear, and the descriptions are concise.  Everything you need, nothing you don’t!

    Jonathan - Architect

    How will I receive the book?
    Upon payment you will be sent an email which contains a download link for the book. You can then download the book (and associated files if you have purchased bundle 2 or 3) onto your computer.
    Please be sure to keep an eye on your spam or junk folder.
    Can I buy the book for a university library?
    Yes! The books are available to colleges, universities or institutions but as hard copies only. You can find out more here.
    The series is also available as an online subscription so students can gain access to the books 24/7. To discuss in more detail, please email me directly. emma@firstinarchitecture.co.uk
    Can I get a hard copy of the book?

    Yes there are hard copies available, but they are quite expensive due to one off printing costs. If you are interested follow this link: Understanding Passivhaus hard copy

    What happens if I lose the pdf after purchase?

    After you have downloaded your purchase, it is your responsibility to carry out any backups to ensure that your book is safe. If you lose the pdf, buy a new computer, or your computer crashes, we are not always able to replace your copy.

    What is the format of the book?

    The book is in pdf format. You can view it easily on your computer, or on a tablet if you have an appropriate pdf viewer.

    What version of CAD and SketchUp are the files?

    The CAD files are saved in AutoCAD 2010, and the Sketchup files are saved in SKP 2015.

    Can I pay by card?

    You can pay by both PayPal and credit or debit card. Start the check out procedure, if you wish to pay by card, fill out your details and click proceed to shipping, you will be asked for your payment details after this.

    Have I missed something, or do you have a question? Please, drop me an email and I would be happy to help: hello@firstinarchitecture.co.uk