Passive buildings are built to such a high standard of efficiency that they hardly need heating. The name refers to ‘passive’ sources of heat such as the sun, the body heat of the occupants, or cooking. This is enough, because very little heat is lost. Buildings are well insulated and airtight, ventilated through a heat exchanger.
It’s usually houses that are built to this standard, but there’s been a notable addition to the world’s collection of passive buildings in the last year. Fornebu S is a shopping centre outside of Oslo. It’s part of a development on the site of Oslo’s old airport. As if to make up for that, it’s all built to the highest standards of sustainability.
Fornebu S has an airtight building envelope, and what heating it needs is provided by a district heating and cooling system that uses seawater for heat exchange. It is quite possibly the world’s most environmentally friendly mall. It’s just been nominated for a BREEAM award and you can vote for it here if you’re so inclined.