The Passive House Standard for low-energy buildings is being put through its paces in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market.

The Ice Box Challenge involves putting two identical 720-kilogram blocks of ice under two separate structures – one built to the Australian Building Code, and the other to the Passive House Standard.

The boxes will then be left for 12 days to see how the ice fares. The experiment started last Friday, February 21 and will wrap up on Sunday, March 3.


On the first temperate afternoon in Melbourne (23°C), there was already a 9°C temperature difference in the interiors of the two boxes – the Code box 18°C and the Passive House box a cool 9°C.

The public science experiment, which aims to tangibly reveal the benefits of passive house design and construction, is being run by the Australian Passive House Association with the support of the City of Melbourne, Queen Victoria Markets and members of the local construction and design industry.

Passive house is an international building standard for low energy buildings. The buildings can use up to 90 per cent less energy for heating and cooling than other buildings do, while maintaining good indoor ventilation and air quality.

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