Slope and glory stars

When architect Tony Godwin wandered into a seminar on the passive house standard at Ecobuild ten years ago, it was the start of a journey that would eventually see him design and build his own passive home on a sloping site — and learn some hard lessons along the way to achieving a comfortable, ultra-low energy family home with tiny energy bills.

All bales, no bills

In the classic story of the three little pigs, the big bad wolf may have blown down the first little piggy’s house of straw with consummate ease — but he wasn’t reckoning with this pioneering, energy bill-shredding Suffolk project, the UK’s first load-bearing straw bale passive house

International: Issue 25

A selection of passive & eco builds from around the world, this issue features a boat designed according to passive house principles, with the artic climate in mind, and a contemporary passive house by Key Architects on Japan’s rural Shikoku Island.

Historic London house gets near passive transformation

The default answer when you want to do pretty much anything to a listed building is ‘no’. The default assumption if you want to achieve the Enerphit standard for retrofit is ‘tackle everything’. So how on earth do you retrofit a listed building to within a whisker of the Enerphit standard — with the blessing of the conservation officer?

Granite-hewn Victorian home upgraded to PHI low energy standard

Built in 1850, this home in Dartmoor national park would have relied on local timber supplies for heating until the advent of widely-available central heating. One passive house-flavoured retrofit later, it’s back to its wood-burning roots – only this time with much less wood use, and much higher comfort.

From derelict shop to tiny low energy home

In 2014, one couple decided to give up life in a van and convert an old newsagents in Shrewsbury into a very small low energy home, using the principles of the passive house standard as their guide. So how did it work out, and what is life really like in such a small home?

The PH+ guide to air source heat pumps

As electricity supply from renewable sources continues to grow, and electricity grids gradually decarbonise as dirtier fossil fuels are phased out, heating homes with electrical technologies like heat pumps starts to make more sense. And in the mild, temperate climate of Britain and Ireland, air source heat pumps are particularly suitable — especially as new build standards of energy efficiency continue to tighten, meaning new homes need less and less energy to achieve comfortable indoor temperatures. But how do air source heat pumps work, what types are there, and how much do they cost to run? Our in-depth guide attempts to answer the key questions.

Thermal bridging: risk & opportunity

Assessment of thermal bridges is the low hanging fruit lining the path to passive house and low-energy building, according to leading thermal modeller Andy Lundberg of Passivate, who says that taking the time to understand thermal bridging and to minimise and calculate it properly is essential to delivering cost optimal low energy buildings without an Achilles heel.

Ireland's new central bank hits nZEB & BREEAM outstanding eco rating

Rising from the shell of the stalled riverside headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank, Ireland’s financial regulator could be accused of insensitivity for choosing as its new home a site that became a toxic symbol of the banking crisis, but the building is not without virtue: it comfortably surpasses the proposed nearly zero energy building standard while achieving the onerous Breeam ‘Outstanding’ rating for sustainability.

International: Issue 24

A selection of passive & eco builds from around the world, this issue features a rustic holiday home in New Zealand designed using the key principles of passive house design, and the 26-storey House at Cornell Tech, New York, now the tallest certified passive building in the world.

The dazzling Dalkey home with a hidden agenda

Even in the era of climate change, there still appears to be something of a split in the world of architects between those who prioritise sustainability, energy efficiency and occupant health, and those who put design and aesthetics first. So it’s refreshing to find that the designer of this contemporary Dublin home put so much attention on insulation, airtightness and indoor air quality — as well as good looks.

The housing crisis - what is to be done?

Almost a decade after the economic crash, every political party in Ireland now recognises the country is in the middle of a full-blown housing crisis. Similar problems exist in the UK market, but for different reasons. Now, if the political will to fix things has finally arrived, the question remains — what can actually be done about it?

Mayo passive house makes you forget the weather

Homeowners Michael and Paula Sheridan say that, living in their farmhouse-inspired Mayo passive house — which includes a highly unorthodox heating system — it’s easy to completely forget how cold it is outside.

World class passive social housing

Simultaneously tackling fuel poverty and climate change requires drastic action on deep retrofitting the existing housing stock – and fast. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s deep retrofit and renovation of Rochestown House may be Ireland’s most significant retrofit to date – a fact reflected in the project picking up the sustainability award at the 2017 Irish Architecture Awards.