One of the ways to gain certification as a Passive House designer or consultant is to pass an internationally recognised exam provided by the Passive House Institute, Passive House’s international governing body. Students at Smart Plus Academy can take the Passive House Institute exam with us in one of two forms: either in person at a testing location in Sydney or remotely at a location with a suitable internet connection (such as a home or office).
The exam takes three hours if sat on site or three and a half hours if sat remotely. It includes design and mathematical components as well as multiple-choice questions.
To ease your mind when you take the exam, we offer a unique certification guarantee. Should you not pass within three attempts, we will refund your exam fee. (Applies only to students who have completed the full certification package, not individual components.)
But relax. You will be in the best possible position to gain certification with the world governing body, the Passive House Institute. Over 95 percent of our students pass the exam on the first attempt.
Gaining your certification
The exam is not the only way to gain certification as a Passive House designer or consultant. You have two options:
Pass the international written exam provided by Smart Plus Academy (SPA). Germany’s Passive House Institute provides us with all the examination documents and files. Once you have sat the exam, SPA will conduct an initial assessment and then send your paper to the Passive House Institute. The Institute then carries out the final marking ahead of issuing certification to those who have passed.
Design a certified Passive House (NOT offered by SPA) (See details under renewing certification)
Renewing your certification
To remain certified as a Passive House designer or consultant your certification must be renewed after the first five years and then again every two years. You can do this in two ways:
Earn further education credit points Not every graduate is actively involved in Passive House projects and able to present evidence of this work. It is possible to renewing your certification by instead teaching Passive House courses and attending related events and advanced training.
Design a certified Passive House (NOT offered by SPA) You can renew your certification by documenting a certified Passive House, EnerPHit retrofit or PHI Low Energy Building where you exercised full responsibility for the building design and the project planning with the PHPP. Project documentation can be used to earn or renew the certificate for one person per building.
The difference between ‘designer’ and ‘consultant’
Certified Passive House ‘designers’ and ‘consultants’ both receive identical educations and their qualifications have equal weight within the Passive House Institute. The different titles reflect the type of education a graduate has previously undertaken. In short, a graduate with a university degree related to the building industry is referred to as a designer and those without such a degree are referred to as consultants.
Establishing which group an applicant belongs to is not always easy, given the diverse educational qualifications, professions and the legal provisions relating to buildings worldwide. For this reason, the Passive House Institute has specified two possible methods for obtaining certification as a Certified Passive House Designer. These are:
Providing proof of an educational qualification which enables you to plan buildings or technical building systems independently. This educational qualification should have reached a certain level (e.g. diploma or bachelor degree) and have been attained in a specialised subject which primarily involves the planning of buildings or building services systems.
Providing proof of membership in an institution, whose members are entitled to provide planning services which are subject to approval by a building authority (e.g. Chamber of Architects).
You qualify for the Designer title if you have the following educational qualification:
Architect, building designer or interior designer
Civil, timber, structure mechanical or construction engineer
Building and energy technology engineer
Master carpenter or builders licence
Certified technician for structural engineering, building construction, heating plumbing and ventilation technology or supply technology
Please provide evidence of having achieved any of the above qualifications when you register for the exam.
Materials required include: a scientific calculator and coloured pens. Note that course notes, manuals and any printed material can be used.
Online exam specific: Students need to supply their own PC or Mac computer for the exam. It is the responsibility of students to ensure they have an adequate data connection. Speeds of 16 MBPS are required for the final online exam. A mobile phone or tablet with web camera and microphone capabilities is required additional to the computer with speed of Speeds of 4 MBPS.
Face-to-face specific: If fewer than seven people attend the course in your location additional changes apply. 1 – 3 people at the location + $500, 4 – 6 at the location + $250, 7 + at the location no extra charge.
Daniel started his career in the construction sector as a carpenter employed on sites in his native Germany. He next worked in Ireland on what was then the world’s biggest modular residential project. After 10 years on the trades side of building, Daniel completed a Master of Civil Engineering and worked as a researcher on EU sustainable building projects.
Daniel has been based in Australia since 2015, and in 2017 he founded the Smart Plus Academy. His vision is to help build a more sustainable construction sector and to promote dwellings that are comfortable and liveable while using minimal energy.
Daniel is a Certified Passive House trainer and through his work at the Smart Plus Academy and other institutions has helped train more than 50 per cent of the certified Passive House professionals in Australia today. Daniel’s philosophy is to “inspire and lead with passion and love” and “to contribute to society through teaching that inspires growth”.
After studying architecture in her native Germany, Julia moved to Australia in 2006. She then worked for leading architectural practices in Melbourne, Perth and Darwin, along the way gaining an understanding of Australia’s different geographic zones and the extremes of its climate.
Deeply passionate about sustainability and energy-efficient building design, Julia graduated as a Certified Passive House Designer in 2018. She has since made it her mission to bring about change in the building sector and to educate Australians about comfortable, healthy and sustainable living spaces.
In 2020, Julia joined Smart Plus Academy as assistant Passive House trainer. She now educates building professionals across Australia about the Passive House standard.
What our students say
EXCELLENT Based on 27 reviews.
Daniel, Julia and the team behind Smart Plus Academy really break down the content of the Passive Haus content and requirements in a way that makes it accessible and relevant. The work they have done to make the content accessible is brilliant. They also work hard to make sure you pass the course and give the best chance of doing so. I don't think I could have done it without their help and guidance. Regardless the course and the building science was very informative and would recommend to all architects to get a good grip of what is happening in your buildings.
I've just completed my Passive Course and it was a great experience. Daniel and his team have worked very hard to prepare very insightful and helpful content. Highly recommended.
Recently completed the PH trade course and found it very informative with many takeaways that we have already implemented in the company.
Smart plus academy is an excellent asset to the industry with people who care about well-built homes' quality and performance,
Thank you, Daniel and Juila
The team at Smart Plus are all excellent. Superb knowledge and really user friendly website and tools make the whole package one of the best for education in how to build better buildings. Well Done!
An amazing level of support and learning resources from a very knowledgeable team, which continues after the training has been completed.
I highly recommend enrolling in a course or webinar with SPA, even if you're just looking to confirm whether Passive House is for you.
Thank you Daniel and Julia.
I highly recommend Daniel and the team. I am well into the design of my first Passive House project with a second in the works. Well worth the investment.
Daniel, Julie and the team at Smart Plus Academy have put together an amazing training course to help spread the knowledge and passion around passive house here in Australia.
The training course was informative, positive and passionate and I highly recommend this course to others looking to create better homes in Australia and around the world.
Excellent and detailed training on Passive House concepts, standards, and design. Tons of information packed into 8 days of learning across 2.5 weeks. I feel so much more informed on high performance design and material characteristics than before I took the course. Be prepared to make space in your regular schedule for the amount information that is packed into this timeframe
Leading the way in providing online education in Passive house! Great content delivered well, with a ton of additional resources provided as you go to help make sure you really understand what you have learned and can apply it in the real world!