Passivhaus Institut Breaks Ties with the Passive House Institute U.S.

Reader Contribution by Susan Melgren and Web Editor
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Bad news for all you fans of the Passive House movement in the United States. Dr. Wolfgang Feist, the founder and director of the Passivhaus Institut (PHI) in Germany, has announced that the PHI is cutting ties with the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) and will no longer allow the organization to certify Passive Houses in the United States. 

This California home was the first U.S. retrofit to be certified by the Passive House Institute U.S. Photo By Ned Bonzi.

Feist posted an open letter yesterday morning explaining his reasoning behind the action. Although Feist says that he has been pleased with U.S. director Katrin Klingenberg, whom he handpicked for the position, Feist is terminating the PHIUS’ status as an accredited Passive House Building Certifier for disregarding standing agreements with the PHI and for “breaches of contract and good faith.” Feist cited three actions the PHIUS took that led to the organization’s termination. First, the PHIUS infringed upon the PHI’s copyright status of its Passivhaus Planning Package design software by selling and making changes, converting the software’s metric system, without permission from the PHI. Second, Feist said the PHIUS started a “competing professional certification scheme” and has refused to honor existing contracts. Feist also wrote that the PHIUS has been certifying Passive Houses without the proper documentation, threatening the integrity of the Passive House standard and undermining the program.

Feist closed his letter by saying that the PHI “will not abandon the development of the Passive House in the U.S.” and that it will “continue to reach out to those competent, motivated and fair actors who emphasise real work and real Passive House construction.”