The founder of Passivhaus and director of Passivhaus Institute PHI, Dr. Wolfgang Fiest, has just sent word that the Passive House Institute United States (PHIUS) will no longer be able to provide building certifications, and will no longer be considered a partner of the program. While the news comes as a blow to the effort to make inroads for Passive House in the US — a market very much on the radar for super-efficient building standards — it also reflects the commitment the Passivhaus Institute has to the quality of its certification process.
In a letter, Dr. Fiest praises his handpicked US director Katrin Klingenberg for her work, but he then states “Unfortunately, recent actions by PHIUS have culminated both in breaches of contract and good faith, unnecessarily reinforcing false divisions within the Passive House community. In light of PHIUS’ disregard for its standing agreementswith PHI, we are left with no other choice but to suspend all standing contracts. Evidence of PHIUS’ certification of Passive House buildings without the requisite documentation has threatened the integrity of the Standard and forced PHI to terminate PHIUS’ status as an accredited Passive House Building Certifier.”
He goes on to describe three actions that PHIUS has made that have not sit well with the organization, and have in turn led to the termination of their relationship. The US organisation was unauthorized to sell the primary design software Passivhaus Planning Package (or PHPP), and did not have permission to change the software — presumably converting it from metric to English measurement units. Fiest also states that PHIUS has begun a “competing professional certification scheme” while not following current contractual obligations. Finally, and most damming, he alleges the US group is not using proper documentation to certify projects. “Evidence of PHIUS’ certification of Passive House buildings without the requisite documentation has threatened the integrity of the Standard and forced PHI to terminate PHIUS’ status as an accredited Passive House Building Certifier,” said Fiest.
Given the precision of design and implementation that results in a certified Passive House, which is 10 time as efficient as code, even the idea that a certifying agency is not properly complying with the standard would undermine the entire program. The loss of a US-based certifying agency will certainly slow down the implementation of Passive House in the US for the short term — a huge market which has seen tremendious interest in the building system.
Fiest relays, “PHI is doing everything in its power to ensure Passive House’s continued success, especially in the US where we will continue to reach out to those competent, motivated and fair actors who emphasize real work and real Passive House construction.”