Passivhaus: What's In A Name?

haus ettel photo

Haus Ettel, Image credit Maschin Arhitektur

I have always thought that Passive House was a lousy name; I wrote earlier:

In english speaking Britain they call it Passivhaus, but I suspect that ten years ago, people were afraid of introducing foreign names. (Remember Freedom Fries?). So instead we get Passive House, when it is neither passive nor limited to houses.

At GreenBiz, Claudia Girrbach also considers it lousy, for different reasons. She writes in Passive Buildings vs Active Marketing: What's In a Name?:


Key elements of a Passivhaus

Would You Name Your Concept "Inert" or "Inactive"?
Although scientifically correct, the name "passive" creates a poor first impression with an English speaking non-technical audience. Passive is usually used when you want to describe someone or something that is submissive, inert or inactive. Not exactly a word that triggers interest. "Passive" extinguishes any thoughts of innovation or quality.

She offers some excellent suggestions for the marketing and rebranding of the Passivhaus movement and concludes:

Passive construction is all about working with nature and science to build more effectively. This same principle can be used when marketing. Work with human nature and behavioral science to market more effectively.

Claudia's article is nicely, if coincidentally, timed. Perhaps the recent split between Passivhaus Institute in Germany and Passive House Institute US will present a new branding opportunity. Read it all in Greenbiz
More on Passivhaus or Passive House:
Martin Holladay Rattles Cages with Critique of Passivhaus
Forget Energy Star and LEED, Green Building is Passivhaus
Passive Design and Passive House Mean Two Different Things
Passivhaus: Too Rigid and Inflexible for America?

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