There's no question that the upfront cost to build a passive home is higher than the cost to build a conventional home, but over time, the higher initial price of materials, design and construction will be offset by savings on utility bills and home maintenance.
The Passive House Institute US estimates that an additional upfront investment of around 10 percent of the construction budget is required to achieve passive house standards, as compared to regular energy code-compliant 2x4 construction [source: Passive House Institute US]. In practice, the cost difference is often greater, but the price per square foot to build a passive house may be partially offset by the relatively small footprint of the home.
For example, The Shift House, a 1,741-square-foot (161.7 square-meter) passive home outside Portland, Ore., had a construction and design budget of $330,000, or approximately $190 per square foot. That's compared to an average cost of about between $200,000 and $282,000 ($85 and $120 per square foot) to build a conventional new home with an average size of 2,349 square feet (218.2 square meters) [source: Minervini]. But by spending an extra 10 percent during construction, Root Design Build (the project designers) expect to reduce the energy costs for heating by 90 percent indefinitely, and don't anticipate the annual heating bills to cost more than $200 [source: Minervini].