Passive House and active buildings will be constructed in Russia!

Construction quality was very closely monitored. Multiple blower door tests were conducted to determine the building envelope's airtightness and discover any heat flows leaving the building in order to fix them; the pressure test result was n50 = 0.31 h-1.

The government of Russia devotes a lot of attention to energy efficiency and energy conservation in residential buildings. A state program was developed for the widespread introduction of construction technologies and ways of using buildings that consume very low amounts of energy. We now expect dozens of energy-efficient buildings to be constructed in a number of climate zones throughout Russia by 2020.


One such project is ABN's active building constructed in 2014 near Moscow. Thanks to photovoltaic arrays, solar collectors, heat pumps, small wind turbines, and automatic smart systems, the active building produces more energy than it consumes.


In planning and constructing this active building, the team used Passive House technology and the criteria (Passive House Planning Package or PHPP) developed by Professor Wolfgang Feist and the staff at the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt.

Architecture / structure

This two-story building is an experimental project for ABN. It is a single-family home for three to four people and is currently the subject of various research papers in the field of energy-efficient construction. The building has a hydraulic lift that can carry up to 400 kilograms and significantly increases comfort and convenience in the house.

The area relevant to energy consumption amounts to 242 square meters. The first floor houses the kitchen, dining room, living room, one bedroom, one full bathroom, and a few half bathrooms; the top floor consists of two offices, another bedroom, another full bathroom, and more half bathrooms. The ground floor provides space for the solar power station, the heat pump, the mechanical ventilation system, the water purification system, the lift, and other building services.


The building's architecture has the objective of high energy efficiency. The simple design, without bal­conies, loggias, or other metal or reinforced con­crete structures, allowed us to avoid linear and punctual thermal bridges.

The house was built with high-quality environ­mentally friendly construction materials tested for quality and potential toxins such as radioactivity, radon, and mercury using a mobile laboratory from ABN.


The largest side of the building faces the south and is not shaded. The house has 13 large windows, five on the southern side and four each on the eastern and western sides. Total glazed area amounts to 67 square meters.

All rooms on the top floor are well lit and warmed up with insolation, reducing the demand for heating and lighting. The timber window frames are protected with aluminum on the exterior, and the Passive House-certified windows themselves have triple glazing filled with inert gas.All windows have insulated roller shutters that can be operated both manually and automatically.

Solar power station

The building's total annual primary energy demand is 110 kWh/(m²a). To provide that power, a photovoltaic power station was installed with the best monocrystalline panels and a peak output of 23 kilowatts. The panels are located on the eastern, southern, and western sides of the active house, on the veranda (vertical), and on the flat roof (45-degree angle). 

The power station proved its worth in 2013 and 2014, when it produced significantly more power than was consumed from March to September. Excess power from PV and from the small 1,000-watt wind turbine could also be exported to the grid.

At one point in October 2013, when the grid failed, the power station supplied electricity to the house for 18 hours. After that point, the building's 20-kilowatt diesel station (fulfilling all requirements) turned on to charge the solar power station batteries to their capacity of 57.6 kilowatt-hours.

A light catcher is installed on the roof over the antechamber at the southern side of the entrance; it follows the sun and guides daylight into the unlit rooms of the house via a light shaft.


All of the building services and the lighting use very low amounts of energy.


In planning the ventilation system, much attention was paid to ensuring a high level of comfort in all rooms of the house in terms of air and heat. The certified Komfovent mechanical ventilation system capable of 500 cubic meters per hour provides fresh air and a comfortable microclimate.


The system's efficiency is 78 percent. Fresh air is sent through Rehau pipes with a diameter of 200 millimeters and a length of 200 meters that are located two meters deep, where temperatures are always above freezing. The air flowing through the pipes is heated up and sent to the heat recovery system at temperatures above freezing, which significantly reduces energy costs for heating air in the winter.

When people are present in a room, the temperature is kept at 18 to 22 degrees Celsius with humidity of 40 to 60 per­cent.


When the room is empty, air supply is decreased and moni­tored with a CO2 detector. The ventilation system constantly supplies the living spaces with fresh air and automatically draws air out of the bathrooms and kitchen.


The sun and the soil heat the house. A 24-kilowatt geother­mal heat pump draws heat from the ground via twelve 30-meter boreholes. When the heat pump was running during the winter of 2013-2014, one kilowatt of electricity produced four to five kilowatts of heating energy. The temperature of the water leaving the heat exchanger was 55 to 58 degrees Celsius.

Besides the heat pump, water is also heated by the 16 square meters of solar thermal collectors, which are currently still being tested.

Once heated by these systems, the water flows into the 1,425-liter hot water tanks on the ground floor and then to the floor heating system on the first floor and the hot water supply system.


Warm air from the ventilation system heats the top floor. On sunny days throughout the year, the house is also heated by insolation coming through the large windows into all rooms on the first and top floors.

Automation of the active building control system

A smart house system using KNX technology was installed to automatically control the active house's building services.

These automated building services include lighting, heating, ventilation, security, fire safety, video surveillance, entrance security, and leakage monitoring.

A weather station on the roof provides data to the automation system.



Next to the house is a large pond that contributes to a comfortable environment for the residents of the active house. In the summer, part of it is a fish farm, and the rest can be used for swimming and sports; when it freezes in the winter, it is ideal for hockey, ice skating, and other activities.



  • In 2014, the following optimizations were made to the already completed active house:
  • Plastic reinforcement was used instead of metal in order to remove thermal bridges.
  • The optimal functional diagrams were chosen for the solar power station.


Focuses in 2015 and 2016

  • Investigating the possibility of using paraffin to cool down the building.
  • Evaluating PHPP in the field for building Passive House buildings in a number of different climate zones throughout Russia.



  • In 2014, ABN built Russia's first active building, which generates more energy than it consumes.
  • The usefulness of PHPP was evaluated in the field during construction of Passive House buildings around Moscow.
  • A group of qualified, certified specialists was put together to solve difficult tasks and build identical high-quality projects with a focus on engineering.
  • Suitable conditions were developed for research related to choosing optimal parameters for solar batteries, solar thermal collectors, heat pumps, and other systems used in engineering systems and in automation for energy-efficient construction.