Hope springs eternal stars

What happens when one of Ireland’s most seasoned passive house builders and a renowned design-led architecture practice collaborate? They create a head turning, high density passive house scheme that showcases the aesthetic possibilities of external insulation.

Visionary vernacular

Can a low energy building be truly sustainable if it doesn’t fully consider its occupants needs? The latest offering from one of Scotland’s leading green designers uses passive house knowhow to signal the way to pragmatic, modest, occupant-centric architecture.

A grid of their own

A new development in County Wicklow demonstrates how typical housing estates might be turned into electricity microgrids through solar power and battery storage, with residents buying and selling renewable energy from each other, helping to insulate them from price spikes and outages.

Northern comfort

In trickier housing markets, the instincts of house builders have often tended towards building to the worst legal standards required – or worse. One award-winning new project in Belfast’s suburbs is showing that it doesn’t have to be this way – and that developers can thrive by pitching homes designed to ensure comfort and low bills at increasingly energy-conscious consumers.

Going swimmingly

The environmental journalist George Monbiot has written about how we need an era of ‘public luxury’ and ‘private sufficiency’ — as opposed to private luxury for the few — to mitigate overconsumption and climate breakdown. And it’s hard to think of a better example of public luxury than this superb new leisure centre in Exeter, which consumes just a fraction of the energy of typical facilities, and is set to be certified to a bespoke version of the passive house standard.

From Nero to zero

The historic Roman city of York is embarking on an ambitious programme to redefine council housing for the 21st century, building 450 mixed-tenure passive houses across eight sites in the city, and unashamedly prioritising walking and cycling, and shared outdoor green spaces, over cars. It may seem too good to be true, but a cityscape whose architecture still so manifestly displays its extraordinary history is now pointing to the future of urban design.

Block buster

With emphasis in sustainable building shifting towards reducing embodied carbon, an obvious question comes into focus: is this an existential threat to the concrete industry? One passive house in Claregalway shows that – with a little help from Passive House Plus – concrete product manufacturers can make meaningful moves in the right direction.

Mass timber masterwork

This home on the edge of the Cotswolds, built with cross-laminated timber, now holds the distinction of being the UK’s most airtight home, with the client even doing a significant chunk of the airtightness taping himself. What’s more, it demonstrates how passive homes that generate their own renewable power may escape the worst of the energy price crisis.

Heart of oak

A striking new oak-framed passive house in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the English countryside has just opened its doors to the public, and already there has been a flood of guests seeking to experience life in a passive house.

Pitch perfect - Beguiling Dundee passive house puts wood into woodland

An intriguing new passive house in Dundee takes the traditional ‘box’ form associated with the standard and turns it on its head, using a series of pitched roofs and different claddings to make it feel more like a traditional city terrace than a single dwelling – built with a heavy emphasis on carbon sequestering materials.

Boxing clever

This all-wood passive-certified home in the village of Kippen was built directly by its architect owners, who not only achieved the passive house standard but did so with an ecological approach that sought to use building materials ultra-efficiently and make it easy to deconstruct and recycle the building at the end of its life.

Spectacular Vernacular

A new passive house on Galway Bay beautifully blends vernacular design with touches of Arts & Crafts while still appearing thoroughly contemporary, but under its neat exterior is the thinking of an architectural practice striving to reduce the environmental impact of its buildings, inspired by the Architects Declare pledge.

Playing all the angles

Angle House in north London is a wonderful example of sustainable urban housing: modest in scale and built on a run-down site in the heart of north London, it boasts a passive approach to energy efficiency and some beautiful design touches.

New England rebel - Cork passive house with Vermont roots

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.

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.

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.

Net result: Bristol passive house turns energy bills into net profits

A ground-breaking new passive house in Bristol makes superb use of an urban plot to create a bright and spacious home built from ecological materials that — thanks to its huge solar roof and Tesla battery pack — produces more energy than it uses, making it one of the first UK projects to meet the passive house ‘plus’ standard, while also blitzing the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge’s targets for operational energy.

Office romance - Passive house supplier walks the walk with new office & factory

When Welsh sustainable building specialists PYC decided to start making their own timber frames, they got down to work designing and building their own factory. Once that was finished, it was time to test their system on their first order: to build their own passive house certified offices right next door – and to be bold enough to decide not to install central heating.

Flat pack hijack

Flat-pack furniture has become a fixture of modern living, but what happens when the same concept is applied to housing – and when the client is an architect seeking to build to passive house and nearly zero energy building levels?

Stirling Work - The passive social housing scheme that won British architecture’s top award

Early in October, Norwich City Council’s Goldsmith Street development become both the first passive house and the first social housing project to win the Stirling Prize, British architecture’s most coveted award, with the judges calling it “high-quality architecture in its purest, most environmentally and socially conscious form”. Leading building energy expert Dr Peter Rickaby visited the scheme for Passive House Plus to see this ground-breaking project for himself.