The Beginning of Passive House: Who is Dr. Wolfgang Feist?

The Beginning of Passive House: Who is Dr. Wolfgang Feist?

(Dr. Wolfgang Feist with his family in front of the first Passive House in Kranichstein. Photo: Peter Cook)

Dr. Wolfgang Feist is credited for building the first Passive House, or at least the first building with the name Passive House. He built the 4-plex Passive House in 1991 after completing years of research and consultations with leaders in the industry. You can read the full story here.

One of the most incredible feats of Dr. Feist’s house is that this Passive House, built 28 years ago, still meets the stringent requirements of the International Passive House Institute.

During the 1970s there was a worldwide energy crisis, so scientists started looking at alternative sources of energy and ways to cut usage. According to Dr. Feist, “the largest single share of modern energy consumption was being used for heating buildings, that’s over one third!”

Instead of only focusing on alternative energy solutions, Dr. Feist decided to look at the root of the problem and find a way to minimize the use of energy in homes. Why did homes need so much energy to heat? Where was the heat going? And from this, Passive House was born. Because of the work of Dr. Feist and his colleagues, there are now over 60,000 Passive Houses in the world, with popularity increasing in Canada.

(Saskatchewan Conservation House)

But you may be asking: Why have I heard about Canada being a Passive House leader in the 70s?

In Saskatchewan, Canada, the Conservation House was built in 1977. It used 85% less energy than a traditional house with one of the first residential HRVs (heat recovery ventilator), airtight vapour barriers, plenty of insulation, serious weather-stripping around doors…sounds very similar to a Passive House! Sadly, portions of the house didn’t even last 30 years, primarily because the technology was in its infant stages, and the predicted energy savings weren’t realized. However, the Conservation House became a significant step in continuing energy-efficient housing research. I am very proud to see Canadians have played a role in the development of energy efficient housing.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can read the full history of the Conservation House here.

As always, check out where we explore the benefits of Passive House and share photos of our latest project.

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