Large Energy Recovery Ventilators for Passive House projects

Swegon overcomes hurdles to meet requirements of the North American market

Much has been written about the scarcity of certified building components for Passive House projects in North America. Energy recovery ventilators (ERV), including the subset of heat recovery ventilators (HRV), have been no exception. Until recently, ERV availability in North America has been restricted by code-requirements for safety listings and by manufacturer proximity to market. Swegon has overcome all of these hurdles by achieving ETL/UL listing for Passive House certified ERV now manufactured in North America.


Passive House Institute (PHI) began certifying ERVs several years ago. Swegon was the first to gain certification in the “Large ERV” category, which includes ERV with a capacity exceeding 315 cubic feet per minute (CFM). The European market quickly integrated certified ERV in the rapidly growing Passive House market, and competition grew quickly. Soon thereafter, the Passive House market in North America accelerated, but the availability of certified ERV did not track this new demand, restricted by code requirements and the challenges involved with manufacturing and supporting product for customers several time zones away.

Safety matters

Image result for ETL LogoNorth American commercial building projects, including passive house projects, generally have code requirements for ETL or UL safety listing, something that can only be achieved by investing substantial money in the cost of ETL or UL testing and listing. Many European ERV manufacturers offer Passive House certified ERV with the CE safety listing, but CE and UL/ETL are not interchangeable, nor is CE listing accepted in lieu of UL/ETL in most North American building projects.

The availability of Passive House certified ERV began to improve in 2015, when Swegon gained ETL listing for its GOLD ERV/HRV. This certification was immediately applicable to the GOLD range of products already certified through Passive House Institute (PHI).

Proximity matters

ERV is an applied piece of mechanical equipment. Proper application of ERV requires not only product knowledge, but mastery of the English language, national and local building codes, and considerable interaction with the building team. This sort of local expertise and availability is hard to find in European offices several time zones away.

Furthermore, after proper application, manufacturers eventually need to ship the product to their customers. Manufacturers in Europe are at a disadvantage shipping to customers in North America due to the extra time and expense of shipping across the ocean.

By the time GOLD became listed by ETL, Swegon had already invested in manufacturing and application engineering capabilities at its Markham, Ontario factory and immediately offered complete local support for the North American Passive House building market.

As the passive house movement grows in North America, the availability and diversity of high­ performance large ERV with standard safety listings will certainly continue to improve. Meanwhile, Swegon continues its longstanding support of Passive House in general, gaining new experience every day applying GOLD ERV on increasing numbers of Passive House projects across North America.

In addition to certified flow rates by size, PHI also certifies ERV unit:

  • Energy recovery efficiency must equal or exceed 75%
  • Casing leakage, must not exceed 3%
  • Interior leakage cross contamination), must not exceed 3%
  • Specific fan power, must not exceed 0.77 W/CFM

To see the actual certified data for Swegon GOLD, download here

A benefit of using a PH-certified energy recovery ventilator on passive house projects is that it eliminates the need for field certification and all the uncertainty that goes with the field certification process.

For more information about the application of Swegon GOLD as a Passive House Certified ERV, download the GOLD Passive House application brochure, or contact your rep.

For Passive House ERV educational opportunities, visit Swegon Air Academy NA page



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