Life in an air-heated passive house - Five years on

Homeowner Brendan Murphy started self-building his Cork passive house way back in 2010, long before the standard was trendy, and even chose to completely forgo a water-based heating system. So what did he learn from the experience — and how has the house been performing since?

A1 passive house overcomes tight Cork City site

Designing a dwelling to take advantage of the sun’s free heat is a big part of what makes a passive house passive. So how do you meet the low energy standard when your narrow site faces away from the sun and is overshadowed by neighbouring houses and trees, while simultaneously hitting an A1 building energy rating – and with a stunning, architecturally expressive design?

South London scheme delivers better health for residents

A sensitive development of social housing in Lambeth combines three new passive houses with six low energy flats delicately constructed inside an old Victorian terrace — and with the emphasis on good indoor air quality, residents are already reporting improvements in health & well-being since moving from their old accommodation.

Timber & Straw passive house is a world first

Built with a timber frame insulated with straw-bale, and featuring an extensive suite of ecological and recycled materials, this stunning North Yorkshire home also produces more energy than it consumes, making it the first straw-bale building in the world to reach the brand new ‘passive house plus’ standard.

The house that costs €70 a year to heat

Designed around an existing timber chalet, this striking contemporary house managed to go passive on a budget for one lucky family of six, all while inadvertently blitzing Ireland’s forthcoming nearly zero energy building standard.

389 sqm home, €200 measured annual heating

This large family home in south Dublin proves that big homes don’t need to be cold and draughty, comfortably beating Ireland’s planned nearly zero energy building standard for 2021 — even though it was finished in 2015.

A green builder's dream green home

This is what you get when one of Ireland’s most experienced low energy builders creates a home for his own family, with help from one of the country’s foremost ecological architects — a modern and elegant passive house that pays detailed attention to sustainability at every turn.

DIY Cork builder hits passive & NZEB with first self-build

Despite having no construction experience, self-builder Eamonn Fleming decided he could build a new family home more cheaply — and with better attention to detail — if he did it himself. And even though he didn’t set out to build a passive house, he managed to meet the standard while doing almost all of the work in conjunction with his father, while exceeding the targets of Ireland’s nearly zero energy building definition.

Norfolk straw-bale cottage aims for passive

Passive house design is often seen as belonging to the world of hi-tech construction — perhaps unfairly, seeing as it emphasises a good building fabric over bolt-on technologies. Straw-bale construction, meanwhile, is usually regarded as the preserve of only the most committed, do-it-yourself eco-builders. To some these two approaches appear to be chalk and cheese, but in fact they are inherently compatible, and more and more projects are now combining the maths-centred approach of passive house with the extensive use of natural materials. In the first of a series of case studies on passive straw-bale dwellings, Lenny Antonelli spoke to architect Fran Bradshaw of Anne Thorne Architects, who designed and built a straw-bale home for herself in Hickling, Norfolk two years ago — and aimed to meet the passive house standard while doing so, with only a single infrared electric panel as the building’s sole active heat source.

Simple and stunning Highlands passive house merges old and new

While embracing traditional farmstead design made it trickier for this new build home in the Scottish Highlands to meet the coveted passive house standard, mixing modern standards of super-insulation with vernacular farmhouse architecture ultimately led to the creation of a very special home for proprietors Jeanette and Jon Fenwick — one that picked up a coveted UK Passivhaus Award in 2016.

UK's largest passive building opens to 2,400 students and staff

Completed early this year, the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester is by far the largest single building in the UK to meet the passive house standard — and not surprisingly, its design and construction posed tough new challenges for how to meet the rigorous low energy standard on such a large, complicated building.

West Cork passive house raises design bar

The most celebrated architecture of the 20th century belongs firmly to the oil age, a heady mix of glass and steel and no need to have regard to comfort, given the availability of cheap fossil energy to fuel heating & cooling systems. But in the 21st century our buildings must adapt to and mitigate against climate change. That needn’t mean compromising on design, as one West Cork passive house shows 

Stylish low energy house squeezed into South Dublin garden

Built in the back garden of two architects, this simple-but-elegant brick house in Blackrock faced the twin challenges of an extremely tight site and less-than-ideal orientation, but with rigorous attention to detail it came close to passive house levels - while delivering impressively low actual heating costs. 

Chiswick Eco Lodge stitches into historic London street

For this exciting new dwelling in west London, architect Richard Dudzicki faced the challenge of designing a contemporary light-filled home while not offending the sensibilities of its Edwardian surroundings. He also had to meet the passive house standard, too. 

North Dublin sheltered housing provides passive care

As people get older, their thermal energy need increases: elderly people tend to spend more time at home, and to feel the cold more. As one new sheltered housing scheme demonstrates, passive houses may be the answer.