Five years ago Belgium had only one small refurbished office building which met the Passive House standard, and today the municipality of Brussels has implemented legislation making Passive House mandatory for all housing (single-family and multi-family), office buildings, and schools.  The new regulations are effective in 2015, which means that in one short year you will not be able to build a house in Brussels that does not meet the Passive House standard.  The new extension to the Brussels Regional Parliament (pictured above) will of course be Passive House certified.

We had the privilege of hearing Joke Dockx from the Brussels Institute For Management of the Environment speak at the Passive House North West 2013 Conference.  Brussels took a top down approach with the legislation, but first gained support from the base by implementing incentives starting in 2010 to help builders and designers get on track, including a $12/SF incentive for exemplary high-performance buildings.  Interestingly 90% of the grant was given to the owners, and the remaining 10% was given to the design team to reward their hard work and to encourage innovation.  Joke Dockx and her organization acknowledged the importance of design, as she said: “If it’s not smart, beautiful, and inspiring, the Passive House movement could not take off. ” She has been impressed with how successful their little pushes have been, and the Passive House movement has continued to gain its own steam within the region.

Currently, Brussels has 5.4 million SF of Passive House space. Talk about going from zero to sixty.

(Above photo credit: COOPARCH-RU)

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