New England rebel - Cork passive house with Vermont roots stars

A stunning new passive house in Cork breaks the conventions of passive house form with a design that manages to be both dramatic yet discreet at the same time, inspired by a US project to contort itself beautifully into its steeply sloping site.

The PH+ guide to overheating

As awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis grows, efforts to kickstart en masse deep energy efficiency interventions are gathering apace. But poorly conceived low energy building efforts can lead to unintended consequences including overheating – a risk that’s bound to grow as the world warms up. Phi Architecture co-founder Claire Jamieson details the risks and offers some solutions on how to create low energy buildings that are comfortable in summer and winter.

Quantifying the greenness of construction products: the rise of environmental product declarations

Climate breakdown and global ecological crises mean that our efforts to make buildings sustainable must go far beyond operational energy use – including number crunching and drastically reducing environmental impacts of building materials. John Cradden reports on progress in the uptake of the building blocks of life cycle analysis of buildings: Environmental Product Declarations.

Evidence base: How air source heat pumps fare in canny retrofits

Air source heat pumps are rapidly becoming one of the dominant technologies in sustainable building, but how well do they perform in real world conditions? Can they be part of the solution to retrofitting homes, given the challenges in making existing homes suitable for low energy heating? A rare monitoring study on a pioneering retrofit scheme offers encouraging signs.

Radon in passive houses

Radon is one of the most dangerous indoor air pollutants, yet there is little research on how it is affected by different forms of construction and ventilation. A new study, however, suggests that homes built to the passive house standard are significantly less at risk of radon build-up.

Award-winning passive house makes elegant mark on the South Downs stars

Despite the challenges of getting planning permission within a national park, a new passive house on a hillside in the South Downs managed to woo the planners with a sympathetic, discerning design inspired by a surprising source — two dilapidated old chicken sheds.

Zero in - Inspired design offers route to net zero energy living

It sounds like an impossibility: a high density, architectural, zero energy home on the tightest of back garden sites, adaptable to the needs of everyone from empty nesters to a family of six without opening a toolbox. But sometimes a project comes along that redefines what is possible.

Home heating choices and air quality

How we heat our homes has a direct impact on the quality of air that we breathe. This impacts on our health. The impact is both local and national. Burning solid fuel – in an open fireplace or stove – generates fine particle pollution which affects the air in our own home and in the local neighbourhood. There are choices and actions we can take that will reduce this pollution.

We can launch a new eco renaissance

The UN’s Scott Foster says deep retrofit of our building stock, and a sustainable built environment, should be at the heart of our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deep retrofit and stimulus

With governments across Europe looking for ways to jump start their economies following the early impact of Covid-19, attention is increasingly turning to deep retrofit. But while there is strong evidence that deep retrofit could play a major role, the devil will be in the detail – and the challenge of dramatically upscaling a nascent industry shouldn’t be underestimated.

Sea change — luxury passive scheme on the Devon coast

Built mostly with clay blocks and sited above the sandy shores of Seaton, on the Devon coast, this new development of eight high-end apartments not only meets the passive house ‘plus’ standard — meaning it pairs the requisite ultra-low energy fabric with a substantial amount of renewable energy generation — but it also boasts serious attention to the use of ecological and healthy material.

International - Issue 34

This issue features the passive house ‘plus’ certified headquarters of Métropole Rouen Normandie, located on the banks of the Seine in Rouen, France, and designed by Jacques Ferrier Architecture.

Good stock - Stylish Stockport retrofit achieves radical energy savings

This inspiring project may be exactly what the deep retrofit sector needs: an example of how to turn a bog standard, cold suburban home of little architectural merit into a climate champion delivering outstanding levels of energy performance, comfort and health, all while transforming the building architecturally.

Pilot light - Pioneering Donegal deep retrofit a roaring success

A rundown 1970s scheme of one-bedroom, single storey social housing units in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, has been transformed into a pioneering development of cosy, A-rated, NZEB-busting homes. The pioneering project – the first completed under Ireland’s deep retrofit pilot scheme – also breathed new life into an unloved green area and is expected to help fuel a regeneration project in the town.

Hell's kitchen - Why cooking can destroy indoor air quality

When it comes to air pollution, we tend to worry most about things like traffic fumes and solid fuel burning — or when it comes to indoor air, condensation, damp and mould. But one of the biggest threats in the air we breathe comes from something we are exposed to almost every day, but rarely think about: cooking. John Hearne reports on the evidence for how cooking affects indoor air quality, and what we can do about it.

Coasting home - Beautifully designed Hampshire home breezes past passive standard

‘Architecture is the blissful moment when the site and brief come together,’ says architect Ruth Butler of the challenge she and her engineer husband faced in designing their family home, on a difficult urban site by the Hampshire coast. But it was a challenge they met and exceeded, because even though they hadn’t even planned to build a passive house, they soon realised the design was on course to meet the onerous energy standard anyway.

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Our ethos at Ecological Building Systems is to achieve 'Better Building' by adopting a 'Fabric First' approach to design.

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