I know that David Wright published Natural Solar Architecture: A Passive Primer in 1978. So I was confused when I read in a New York Times article, No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in ‘Passive Houses,’ that the first passive home was built in 1991. But the article wasn't just discussing passive solar design in general, it was discussing the Passive House concept — passive solar principles plus a super-insulated structure so that even heat produced by appliances (and residents) contribute to heating the home.
Some of the critical elements of the designs are a heat exchanger, to allow adequate fresh air into the home without cooling it, and efficient windows. The heat exchangers are readily available in Germany, where the passive house concept was developed and refined, and a passive house costs only slightly more than a conventional house. It's time for those of us across the big pond to take advantage of this design concept, too.