PH Office - Criterions for energy-efficient office buildings

The passive house standard and energy-efficient building technologies are getting increasingly important for office buildings, too. However, standardisation is not completed on the same level as known from the residential building sector. The project at hand brings in definitions and makes a suggestion on a standardised calculation method for office buildings in passive house quality.

Short Description




Starting point / motivation

The passive house standard is established in residential building sector in Austria as the most important energy efficiency standard within the last few years. At present, this standard is established more and more also in non-residential buildings: schools, office buildings, commercial buildings, and also some industrial buildings are built as „Passive House Buildings“. It is not always comprehensible, how far such a name also is justified. Often, only single criteria of a passive house are taken into account such as the energy demand for heating. The comprehensive consideration of all necessary aspects for the energy efficiency of buildings takes place seldom.

Questions on "passive house offices" usually concern the energy requirement less for heating and/or hot-water but concentrate on the energy demand for ventilation, cooling or the energy requirement for lighting and the utilisation (primarily computer infrastructure with peripherals). Depending on the utilisation the relevant individual aspects vary extremely: conventional offices are different from mixed uses (e.g. office + meeting facilities) or even office objects considerably with a strongly public orientation. A decisive factor is given by the concentration of workplaces inside the building: the higher this density turns out to be, the more difficult it will be to reach a primary energy demand of 120 kWh/m² complying with the passive house standard.

Contents and goals

The project team made additions and concretions to the present passive house standard for non-residential buildings using the evaluation of selected office buildings. The definition of standardised utilisation profiles to which a passive house standard for office buildings shall be related seems central from the view of the authors. For this reason, criteria were developed based on comprehensive analyses and evaluations whose compliance shall contribute to plan and build energy efficient office buildings.

Methods of treatment

Working with case studies on different existing office buildings, the most important aspects for the design and operation of energy-efficient buildings have been analysed and discussed. The lessons learned of this process have led to a set of criterions and parameters in line with the needs of passive houses. Variations of these parameters have been tested on the pilot projects of the case studies and some other existing buildings.

Expected results / conclusions

However, in the framework of the project (and the therein included analyses and results) an additional proof of the conformity of the passive house standard of the Passivhausinstitut Darmstadt has been done.

The passive house standard defines, also for non-residential buildings, the most important and highest requirement on energy efficiency in present. Without the fulfilment of passive house requirements “zero-energy-buildings” cannot be developed.

The project “PH Office” offers guidance, information and description of core parameters and key indicators for a successful certification of office buildings on the quality level of passive houses.

Project Partners


Robert Lechner
Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut

Projekt- und Kooperationspartner

Contact Address

Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut
Robert Lechner
1070 Wien, Seidengasse 13-3
Tel.: +43 (1) 523 61 05