Speakers' profiles 2015

Top class speakers presented their experience in the field of Passive Houses. We thank all speakers for their contributions and are already looking forward to welcoming you next year for another enriching conference!


Plenary session

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Feist

Dr. Wolfgang Feist, a physicist by training, is the founder and director of the Passive House Institute (PHI), an independent research institute founded in 1996 in Darmstadt, Germany. He has dedicated his career to the development of solutions for energy efficient buildings and increasing industry capacity worldwide through the Passive House Standard. Having researched at Tübingen, Kassel, Darmstadt und Lund University since 1973, Feist was responsible for the first Passive House building constructed in 1990/1991, which almost 25 years later still performs as initially designed. Since 2008, Dr. Feist acts as a professor of energy efficient construction and building physics at the University of Innsbruck, where he works within the Technical Sciences Faculty to spur development in the region of Tyrol, Austria.

Among his many recognitions, Dr. Feist has been awarded the following:
2001 National German Environmental Award, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) - German Environmental Foundation
2003 International Environmental Award of the City of Gothenburg (together with Hans Eek)
2013 Honorary Fellowship Award, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
2014 Sustainable Building Award, University City of Lund, Sweden

Dorothee Dubrau

Dorothee Dubrau, mayoress and councilor for urban development and building of the city Leipzig since 2013, studied architecture and town planning at the art college Berlin-Weissensee by Prof. Dutschke. After her graduation, she worked as a city planner at the office for town planning, new residential construction and urban rehabilitation. She also worked as a District Councilor for Building and Living in the Berlin-Mitte district and later for the German Academy for Town and Regional Planning. Before she became a lecturer at the TU Darmstadt, Mrs Dubrau worked as a freelance architect. She was later appointed at the Council for Urban Development in Berlin, and committed to the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin as a visiting professor until 2013. Moreover she contributed to the textbook of Prof. Gerd Albers and Prof. Julian Wékel “Town Planning – An illustrated introduction”. She is also the writer of the architectural guide “Berlin-Mitte” published in 2008.


Rüdiger Forchmann 

Rüdiger Forchmann studied automation systems with an emphasis on measuring technologies at the University of Aplied Sciences Leipzig (which later became the HTWK Leipzig).

He was employed at the city administration of Leipzig after working as a specialist engineer at VEB Bodenbearbeitungsgeräte Leipzig, the engineering office Gharemani Mannheim and ABB Mannheim.

He finally undertook the leadership of energy management for municipal buildings.




Dr. Frank Heidrich

Dr. Frank Heidrich,  a graduate of economic studies has been involved in building efficiency for many years at the federal level in a managerial position. Since the beginning of the current legislature, he  has been member of the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy Unit for the " promotion of energy efficiency in buildings , CO2 building renovation program , energy consulting ". Since 2007 , he worked for the Transport, Building and Urban Development department in a similar position at the then with the Federal Ministry . Heidrich began his career in the scientific field, he received his doctorate in 1982, and then spent several years employed at the East German Academy of Architecture. Heidrich was a guest of honour at the International Passive House Conference in 2014 as he presented a Passive House Award, as funded by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy Architecture Award.


Prof. Dr. Hubertus Milke

After studying and promoting as a site manager and planning engineer, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hubertus Milke worked for the Water and Wastewater Industry and was appointed Professor of Water Management, Hydrology and  Urban Water Management at the HTWK Leipzig in 1994. There, he created the Institute for Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering in 2002, was Dean of the Faculty of Construction from 2003 until 2006 and Rector of the HTWK Leipzig from 2006 until 2011. Moreover, Prof. Milke is a regional chairman for the German Association for Water, Waste Water and Waste (DWA) in Saxony and Thuringia since 2013. In January 2015, he was elected President of the Saxony Chamber of Engineers.


Ruairí O’Brien

Ruairí O'Brien is an independent architect and lighting designer who sits on the board of The Chamber of Architects of Saxony, a chamber of independent professionals, public corporations, professional representation and self-government for 2900 architects, interior designers, landscape architects and urban planners in Saxony. O’Brien is also Chairman of the Chamber of architects committee for public relations. 

O'Brien studied architecture and light at universities in Dublin, London, Edinburgh and New York. Since 1991, he lives and works as an architect, lighting designer and artist in Germany. In 1995 he founded his own architectural practice in Dresden: Ruairí O'Brien. Architecture. Light. Spatial Art. and in 2010 the company for Lighting Design: archevolucio Lighting Design in London / Dresden. He also teaches in the fields of architecture and lighting at universities in Germany and abroad. In 2014 he founded the Mobile School of Lighting Design (MSLD), which is dedicated to the resource-saving and energy-conscious use of light in architecture and city planning.

In addition to the Chamber of Architects Board activities, Ruairí O'Brien is also a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), a founding member and vice president of the Federation of International Lighting Designers (FILD), a member of the British Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) and of the German Lighting Society (LiTG). O'Brien is actively engaged in the promotion of architecture and sustainable planning as a member of the Federal Foundation for Building Culture. In Dresden, he is a member of the ZEITGENOSSEN and Chairman of the initiative “Betonzeitschiene”, an open-air museum dedicated to the prefabricated concrete housing of the DDR and the reuse of wasteland in inner cities. In the arts and cultural sector, he is honorary Chairman of the Erich Kaestner Museum / Literature house Villa Augustin.

Philippe Moseley

Philippe Moseley is a Project Advisor at the EASME (Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) in Brussels, working in the Horizon 2020 Energy Unit. EASME is tasked with managing several programmes on behalf of the European Commission, notably Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) and parts of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Before joining EASME in early 2014 Philippe had built up a 15-year career as a professional architect and urban designer, designing and delivering energy efficient building projects across Europe. Philippe is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and of the Urban Design Group. He holds Master degrees from the Royal College of Art, London (MA Architecture), and from the Catholic University of Leuven (MSc Human Settlements).

Tomás O'Leary

Tomás O'Leary is Co-Founder and CEO of the Passive House Academy (PHA), based in Wicklow Ireland as well as Brooklyn, New York. He graduated as a Landscape Architect from University College Dublin in 1990 and completed his Masters degree in Environmental Research Management (UCD) in 1992. He established the multi-disciplinary design practice MosArt in 1993 with his business partner of 22 years, Art McCormack, and also worked at UCD as a Senior Research Scientist from 1995 to 2005. He became active in the Passive House arena in 2002 and moved into his own Certified Passive House in 2004 where he still lives. Tomás is an accredited Passive House Building Certifier and is also a licensed training provider of both the Certified Passive House Designer and Certified Passive House Tradesperson programmes. PHA is one of the most prolific certification and training bodies globally, operating in Ireland, US, Canada, China as well as Australia and New Zealand. The firm is also active on international research projects including www.europhit.eu and www.zecos.eu and is currently advising a number of City Agencies in the process of adopting the Passive House standard. Tomás is an enthusiastic advocate for Passive House and has made it his personal mission to make it both accessible and achievable the world over. He is convinced that there is no better energy efficiency standard on the planet than Passive House.

Workshop presenters

Kompaktkurs [DE]

Søren Peper

Søren Pepper studied environmental engineering in Hamburg, focusing his thesis work in 1995 to allow the comparison between actual consumption data and planned values of a multi-family low energy house. He has worked as a researcher at the Passive House Institute since 1998 where he coordinated the Research and Measurement group. Søren primarily focuses on monitoring buildings built to the Passive House Standard, both for new construction and retrofits. He has authored many research reports on a variety of different building types such as residential, schools and daycare centers, factories, office buildings and indoor swimming pools. Søren is also a specialist in airtightness and has worked on publications for airtightness measurement. He is a certified tester and a member of the asociation for airtightness in buildings (FLiB).


Prof. Dr. Markus Krabbes








Olaf Reiter

Born in 1960 in Leipzig, Olaf Reiter studied at the Bauhas University Weimar. Since 1991 he has worked as an independent architect from his architectural office in Dresden, Reiter Architekten BDA. His company works in the field of environmental and energy efficient construction, with particular focus to Passive Houses. In recent years, he has worked on various Passive House projects including kindergartens and residential buildings. His office has received numerous awards and honours, such as the Saxon State Award for Architecture and the Wood Construction Award of Saxony. Olaf is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Passive House Conference 2015 in Leipzig and lecturer at the Danube University Krems in Vienna.


New developments: PHPP 9 preview & designPH [EN]

Jessica Grove-Smith

Jessica Grove-Smith graduated with a master’s degree in physics (MPhys) from the University of Sussex in England. She has been part of the research team at the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt since 2008. Her responsibilities range from stationary and dynamic energy demand modelling, climate data for the PHPP and hygrothermal simulations of individual building components. The application of the Passive House concept for indoor swimming pools has also been a main focus of her work, as well as contributions to the renewable primary energy assessment method that is being introduced for the new Passive House classes.


Maria del Carmen Rivero

Maria del Carmen Rivero graduated with a Master’s degree in Environmental Governance (M.Sc.E.G.) from the University of Freiburg, Germany and previously with a Bachelor's in architecture from the University of Monterrey, Mexico. After working in construction for a few years in Monterrey, she moved to Germany for her Master studies. Since 2011 she is member of the Passive House Institute staff in Darmstadt. Her field of work is mainly within the building certification and building system certification teams, specialising in the application of the Passive House concept to warmer climates. She has been involved in diverse development cooperation projects in Mexico, in collaboration with the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and other Mexican governmental institutions. She also currently coordinates the translation of the PHPP into English and Spanish, including support to PHPP translators. Maria del Carmen has also held diverse workshops about the Passive House concept and the use of PHPP in English and Spanish, both in Germany and in Mexico.

Dragoș Arnăutu

Dragoș Arnăutu is an Architect at the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt. He joined the Passive House team in 2012, working in the field of building consultancy and certification. He previously studied architecture at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and was awarded a Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) Internship at the Passive House Institute.

Besides building consultancy and certification, Dragoș is currently involved in the development of an Online Certification Platform and designPH. Dragoș teaches responsible architecture and believes the Passive House Movement is on the right path towards achieving sustainability.


New developments: PHPP 9 & designPH [DE]

Jan Steiger

Born in Stuttgart in 1974, Jan Steiger pursued a career as a traditional architect through his studies at the University of Stuttgart complemented with various internships. He became inspired by the Passive House Standard in 2004 working for Michael Tribus Architecture in South Tyrol as internal project manager on energy efficiency and Passive House projects. As of 2011, Jan has worked as a researcher at the Passive House Institute where he leads the development of PHPP and thereby is involved in the coordination of projects such as the DEEVi and the EU-funded project EuroPHit. Always seeking to provide a simple understanding of cost-effective and energy-efficient construction, Jan is also an experienced speaker and certifier of buildings, doors and building systems.


Esther Gollwitzer

Esther Gollwitzer studied architecture at both the Technical University of Darmstadt and at KTH in Stockholm. Subsequently she developed  detailed designs of non-residential and commercial PV systems while working at Goldbeck GmbH. Since 2009 she has worked as a researcher at the Passive House Institute. She specializes in research, consulting and energy calculations for non-residential buildings, in particular indoor swimming pools, and in the development of PHPP (Passive House Planning Package). Esther is also responsible for the certificaiton of window frames and shutters in the area of thermal bridge calculations. She has also served as a presenter.


Business case seminar

Dr. Witta Ebel

Dr. Ebel has a background in physics and mathematics. She has been working on questions of energy politics and energy efficiency since 1980 and was deeply involved with the development and ongoing evaluation of the first Passive House in Darmstadt, Germany, where she has lived since its construction in 1991. Ebel was one of the founding scientific staff members of the Passive House Institute, where she has taken a leading role since 1996. Dr. Ebel continues to be involved in multiple national and international projects on energy efficiency in construction. Her main areas of concentration include the study of low energy and Passive House buildings, energy efficiency of building stock, energy scenarios, economic assessment, and the development of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), the foremost Passive House design tool.


Prof. Dr. Klaus Stocker

Prof. Dr. Klaus Stocker, university studies (business and economics) in Munich and Cologne, internships in France, Poland and Malaysia worked for nearly ten years, finally as senior project manager with the German development bank KfW, evaluating and supervising large international power and industrial projects.

In 1987 he accepted a professorship in International Finance at Nürnberg Institute of Technology (Georg-Simon Ohm), where he became director of the International Business Programme. He also started a research programme on financing renewable energy programmes. Since 2013 he is emeritus and in 2014 (Jan.-June) he was visiting professor at University of Science in Penang, Malaysia. Joint research on environmental project finance is still on-going.

During university –and still on-going- he worked as a consultant for several international institutions (EBRD, KfW, World Bank, DEG, Swiss agency for development and co-operation). Specialisation and research in project evaluation, development finance and development of evaluation models for renewable energy projects (recent and on-going projects evaluated in China, Romania, Russia, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Mongolia). In 1991 he was attached to World Bank in Washington as a consultant in a cross evaluation of energy projects (during sabbatical semester). Since 2013 he is member of the Friedrichsdorfer Institut zur Nachhaltigkeit (IzN) e.V. - a non profit association for sustainable development.


Dr. Berthold Kaufmann

Dr. Berthold Kaufman, a physicist by training, began his career in the field of solar thermal plant development and consulting. He has worked as a senior research scientist at the Passive House Institute since 2000, conducting research on the thermal properties of buildings, their energy consumption and thermal flows for planning purposes as well as on the design of highly insulated windows and compact heat pump systems. Dr. Kaufman regularly consults for architects and construction contractors on Passive House design for both new builds and retrofits and also serves as an expert on questions of Passive House economics and financial analysis. In addition to his consulting work and numerous research publications, Dr. Kaufman frequently holds technical Passive House seminars, lectures and speeches for international audiences.


Dr.  Alexander Zhivov

Dr. Alexander Zhivov is a senior researcher at the Engineer Research and Development Center Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Central Research and Experimental Design Institute for Industrial Buildings, Moscow and the Research Institute for Labor Protection, Leningrad and an MBA degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

He develops innovative energy conservation strategies and methodologies to solve systemic design, operational quality, and project management deficiencies in the U.S. His current  projects support improved energy efficiencies, strategic implementation of new building technologies, improved HVAC systems and controls, distributed generation technologies, renewable energy technologies, modernized heating plants, improved building commissioning processes, and modeling/analysis tools for installation operations. 

Dr. Zhivov has been a Project Manager for the International Energy Agency ECBCS Project Annex 46 “Holistic Assessment Toolkit on Energy Efficient Retrofit Measures for Government Buildings.”  Through various current projects he is developing concepts and an optimization tool to meet more stringent legal requirements for Federal buildings to eliminate fossil fuel use and reduce overall facility energy usage in new and renovated facilities and building clusters. He has been an active member of ASHRAE since 1989. Dr. Zhivov has authored more than 200 publications worldwide and is a contributor to many National and International Ventilation Guides.

Ventilation workshop

Dr. Rainer Pfluger

Dr. Rainer Pfluger is a Mechanical Engineer by training who received his degree from the University of Stuttgart in 1998 and his doctorate in 2002. Dr. Pfluger worked as a research scientist at the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, Germany from 1999 to 2008 in the research department and in the areas of quality assurance and certification. Since 2008, he has researched and taught at the University of Innsbruck in the department of Energy Efficient Building and has focused on sustainable building retrofits and the cost reduction for ventilation. His postdoctoral thesis in 2014 focused on the use of the Passive House concept for increased energy efficiency of new construction and renovations in terms of building physics and building services. Through this work he obtained his teaching qualification for building physics and building services engineering. Dr. Pfluger has served as a project manager on various national and international research projects through FFG, INTERREG and the EU. He currently works in consulting, monitoring and simulation of both residential and non-residential Passive House projects. He also contributes to the development of energy efficient building components and products and has served as an expert on the scientific advisory board for the International Passive House Conference and other scientific conferences and standardization bodies.

Kristin Bräunlich

Kristin Bräunlich is a researcher at the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, where she has worked since 2010 in the field of active ventilation. She previously studied Environmental Engineering in Glauchau, Germany. Following her studies she worked for LMC Medical Components GmgH in the area of ventilation concepts for operating rooms in hospitals. She is currently involved in the certification of Passive House ventilation systems, several EU-funded projects and research projects on the topic of cost effective HVAC solutions. Furthermore, she is the project manager for a monitoring project of different internal insulation solutions.




Elisabeth Sibille

Elisabeth Sibille graduated with a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat in France. Since 2011, she is a scientific assistant of Dr. Feist at the Unit for Energy Efficient Buildings, at the University of Innsbruck. She specialises in ventilation systems for residential buildings, on which she has taken part in several research projects. She is currently writing her PhD thesis on this topic. Her main focus is “low-tech” ventilation systems for residential buildings, particularly for renovations. She is also part of the team of the Passive House Institute since 2013, currently focused on this topic, especially in the frame of the current EU project Sinfonia in which renovations of social residential buildings in Innsbruck and Bolzano take place.


Windows workshop

Dr. Benjamin Krick

Dr. Benjamin Krick works as a senior scientist at the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, where he is chairman of the Component Certification divison. His activities are focused on the field of energy efficient, cost-effective windows and evaluation of the sustainable energy supply for buildings. Born in 1976, Krick studied and researched at the Hochschule Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and the University of Kassel, where he received his PhD. in 2008 in experimental construction. As a trainer and author of numerous papers and books, he disseminates his knowledge on energy efficient, cost-effective, sustainable building.





Franz Freundorfer

Franz Freundorfer is a specialist in Passive House wooden window design with additional extensive experience in building physics, Passive House and the Passive House Planning Package. Following his high school education, he studied wood technology through an apprenticeship as a carpenter with a window manufacturer. Following this time, Franz spent two years working for a window manufacturer, prior to starting his independent career and PHC. Between 1995 and 2004 more than 25 wooden window designs for Passive Houses were introduced into the market.

Since 2007, Franz Freundorfer has been a course provider for the Certified Passive House Designer designation. To date, nearly 2000 planners have been taught across Europe. In conjunction with the Passive House Institute, Franz started training for Certified Passive House Tradespeople in 2012. Franz is an avid proponent of the Passive House concept and is dedicated to providing a training solution for the growing passive house market and associated need for quality assurance.