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 has since become a certified trainer and lead teacher at Smart Plus Academy and educates building professionals across Australia about the Passive House standard.
What our students say
EXCELLENT Based on 46 reviews.
I had such a wonderful experience and felt completely supported every step of the way during the course. Highly recommend if you're looking to become a Certified Passive House Designer!
A comprehensive and challenging course providing a very strong foundation for your passive house journey. Julia and Daniel are knowledgeable, inspirational and understanding teachers who are very good at explaining complex topics and condensing the huge volume of information. I would highly recommend this wonderful course.
Daniel Kress brings this amazing energy to class, seeing how passionate he is and his belief in passive house has motivated me all the more! The passive house designer course is very well curated to the T, they have left no stone unturned and ensured they detailed every aspect keeping in mind that learners from various levels of experience undertake this course. As a sustainability graduate with very little industry experience I found it rather easy to navigate through the course because of their systematic approach.They provide you with all the required study materials and their 6-day online course delivered by Julia gives you a complete walkthrough of all conceps. Julia and the support team are very helpful whenever you need assistance in any way! It's been an honour to undertake this course with SPA and I couldn't recommend it more! To anyone looking to start their Passive house journey, THIS IS THE PLACE TO COME!
Stuart McKenzie Hall
Excellent, detailed and thorough course, well presented perfect for a serious step in improving your Passive House Designer journey and obtaining a valuable qualification. Highly recommended.
Great course tought by a passionate experienced team!
I can say with utmost confidence that I made the best use of the Sydney lockdown by enrolling myself in the Passive House Designer course by the Smart Plus Academy.
Initially I was a bit skeptical about undertaking the course since I had just completed my Masters degree and had no prior industrial experience in this field and hence was not sure if I will be able to understand the concepts. But the course material was designed in such a way that it explained in great detail about every aspect of Passive House design. The effort put in by Daniel and Julia in delivering the concepts and engaging with the students through the homework tasks and exercises ensured a great level of understanding. The support team was also very prompt in answering our queries. Clearing the final exam was a cake walk with the level of preparation that we were put through.
Overall, it was a very knowledgeable experience and I highly recommend this course for those who aspire to bring about a positive change in the built environment.
I enrolled in the Certified Passive House Designer Course and I highly recommend the course. The course tutors Daniel and Julia, and the team were very helpful, professional, and knowledgable.
Good course and content in preparation for examination. Supportive team prior to enrolling to discuss course suitability for my needs.
Highly recommend! Efficient, passionate and professional educators who go the extra mile to provide Passive House courses for designers and builders. Students gain more than just a qualification, but also continued communication and support from the SmartPlusAcademy family!
I wish I'd done it sooner. My only advice to future students is to make sure you have the time to study without interruptions. Running a new business whilst doing the course was a challenge!