History of Passive Homes:
The passivhaus standard originated from a conversation in May 1988 between Bo Adamson of Lund University, in Sweden, and Wolfgang Feist of the Institut für Wohnen und Umwelt (Institute for Housing and the Environment), in Darmstadt, Germany. Later, their concept was further developed through a number of research projects, aided by financial assistance from the German state of Hessen.
Much of the early "passive houses" builds were based on research and the experience of North American builders during the 1970s, who – in response to the oil embargo – sought to build homes that used very little to no energy. These designs often utilized expansive solar-gain windows, which used the sun as a heat source. However, superinsulation prevailed over, as seen in the Saskatchewan Conservation House (1977) and the Leger House in Pepperell, Massachusetts (1977). The Saskatchewan Conservation house was a project of the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), who independently developed a heat recovery air exchanger (HRV), hot water recovery, and a blower-door apparatus to measure building air-tightness notably the house was designed for the extreme -40C to +40C climate of the Canadian prairie. The SRC and Leger houses were predated by the Lyngby, Denmark house (1975), developed by the Technical University of Denmark, and several homes were built between 1977 and 1979 based on the Lo-Cal house design (1976) developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
The name 'passive' can be partly attributed to William Shurcliff, an American physicist who contributed to the WWII Manhattan Project, and in the 1970s became an advocate for energy-efficient home design:
"What name should be given to this new system? Superinsulated passive? Super-save passive? Mini-need passive? Micro-load passive? I lean toward ‘micro-load passive.’ Whatever it is called, it has (I predict) a big future." - William Shurcliff, 1979
An early book explaining the concepts of passive house construction was The Passive Solar Energy Book by Edward Mazria in 1979