The NHBC Foundation has published an interesting study on the variations in adoption of the Passive House standard in the UK versus the German perspective. The full report can be found here. There are some parallels to the anticipated Australian experience to be found.
The report examines the political, economic and social drivers, as well as the general attitudes, that have helped or hindered the uptake of Passive House in Germany, with the view to determine why the uptake has been slower in the UK and what the future direction might be.
Social: The German population has a strong interest in the environment and an associated inclination to take action. A general enthusiasm for high product specifications and attention to detail means that building or buying a low energy home is seen as an attractive option. Here in Australia there is a growing recognition that quality is an important consideration – we are growing more committed to doing things right the first time!
Political: In addition to national regulations for the energy performance of buildings, many individual cities have chosen to set their own energy and environmental standards which mandate an even higher performance. Failure to comply is treated as a regulatory offence and fines are issued. A strong governmental position is key to widespread success.
Financial: The cost of building a Passivhaus home in Germany is now estimated at 3 – 8% more than building a home to the building regulations (known in Germany as EnEV), and there is a variety of assistance available for financing this cost. Government and local loans are available at significantly discounted interest rates, and grants are available depending on the level of energy efficiency achieved. While there are some streams of lower-cost finance available in Australia, the scope and availability is limited. We already know that Passive House is the long term winner, although capital cost information on a full build is yet to be established.