How to use this book

Chapter 1 is an introduction to Passivhaus construction and an overview of the rest of the book. Chapters 2 to 6 and the final two chapters are fairly broad-ranging, discursive pieces, including some sections that express more personal views, while Chapters 7 to 12 (Part Two) are more practical and technical.

Of necessity, the book does contain some particularly technical content (terms, units of measure and diagrams), which we have tried to make as accessible as possible. Chapters in Part Two also contain explanations of key concepts that need to be grasped by building professionals in order to achieve ultra-low-energy buildings. We hope that readers who are less comfortable with the technical content will nevertheless absorb enough of these chapters to gain an understanding of the principles involved. If you are planning to commission your own Passivhaus, this understanding will help you to select the building team.

We have tried to ensure that each chapter reads as a piece, which means there is, at times, some repetition across chapters. However, it is unlikely that you will want to read the whole book in a single sitting, and there may be particular chapters that interest you and that you may wish to turn to first.

On a very practical level, after reading this book you should be in a much stronger position to brief an architect and/or direct a genuine low-energy project, avoiding many common pitfalls and so reducing risks of time and cost overruns. This book does not offer off-the-shelf ‘copy-and-paste’ solutions; instead we are aiming to equip you with the tools to create the right solution for your budget and requirements. Where an issue cannot be explained fully, we provide the information for you to recognise when additional support or input is needed and how to approach a building project intelligently to meet its low-energy aims.

We have aimed to avoid listing supplier or manufacturer names, as this information is likely to date quickly due to the rapid developments in both resources and products for Passivhaus, but relevant details are included in the Resources section at the back of the book.

A glossary of terminology, including jargon and specialist terms, is also included. A separate glossary is given of all units. Summaries of the glossary definitions of specialist terms and of units also appear in ‘terms explained’ boxes in places within the book, wherever such explanations are considered to be helpful. Terms that appear in the glossary, and units, are shown tinted the first time they appear, whether in the main text, a table or a ‘terms explained’ box.