Sussex social scheme pits passive against the code

In the absence of strong energy requirements under building regulations, much of the UK’s new build innovation has been driven by the Code for Sustainable Homes. Amid growing concern that the code’s attention to energy efficiency falls some way short of passive house, monitoring results from one social housing scheme offer a rare opportunity for direct comparison.

Mallow build hits passive on a budget

Exploding the myth that passive house means unfamiliar construction methods and considerable expense, one Cork-based builder has gone passive using wide cavity wall construction – for a competitive cost of €100 per sq ft.

International - issue 6

This issue’s selection of international buildings include Spain’s first passive houses built from straw bales, an architecturally striking energy-plus office building in Denmark, and an Austrian family home that marries ecology, comfort and delightful design.

Passive house goes large

Passive house is no longer just the preserve of the self-builder. With over 300 passive houses built to date in multi unit-schemes and a thousand more on the way – along with major non-domestic builds – increasing numbers of British & Irish developers are going passive. But how will the sector cope with upscaling, and will the most cost-conscious developers be attracted to the standard?

Derbyshire upgrade blitzes Enerphit target

Hitting the Enerphit standard can be challenging for even the most seasoned passive house specialist, so what chances did Kate and Geoff Ball’s semi-d have when the architect and builder had no passive experience? With a well-planned approach and no end of enthusiasm, they passed with flying colours, as Kate Ball explains.

Irish whiskey distillery puts fabric first

Passive house is all about using tiny amounts of energy to deliver maximum comfort for those living and working in buildings that meet the standard. So why did Wain Morehead Architects turn to their passive house knowhow when designing a whiskey distillery that won’t have any occupants?

Passive architect walks walk with Carlow home

None of the team behind Passive House Plus has the good fortune to live in a passive house – at least not yet – meaning our promotion of passive house comes with more than a hint of “Do as I say, not as I do”. That’s emphatically not the case with certified passive house designer Helena Fitzgerald, who chose to practice what she preaches with her own home, to stunning effect.

Co Down passive house built for under £200,000

 As passive house moves into the mainstream, construction costs are bound to keep coming down, with increasing competition among suppliers, and designers and contractors becoming familiar with the most cost-effective routes to meeting the standard. One recent self build shows that low cost passive house needn’t be a distant aspiration – it’s achievable now.

Social scheme finds value in passive

With social housing tenants let down by substandard energy efficiency requirements under UK building regulations, some switched-on housing associations are taking matters into their own hands and building to the passive house standard. Broadland’s first certified passive scheme in Norfolk is a significant step on one association’s journey towards social housing fit for the 21st century.

Northwest facing home shows passive flexibility

Not every site lends itself towards passive house, or so the story goes. Intent on making the most of spectacular views to the northwest, Rob Davies and Amy Staniforth’s ecological self-build shows that passive house can overcome orientations that turn their back on the sun.

International - issue 5

This issue’s selection includes an Estonian space-saving modular build that would see its space heating demand fall by eight if built in Dublin’s climate; a family home on a tight site that became Seattle’s first passive house; an ultra low energy Italian timber box that acts as a confident, sustainable response to a natural disaster; and a passive community centre in the Austrian Alps that makes stunning use of timber.

Unlocking investment in home retrofit

In spite of a consensus that most buildings need deep energy upgrades, both Ireland and the UK have barely scratched the surface. Joseph Curtin – one of Ireland’s leading energy policy wonks –discusses how to kick start en masse upgrade work.

Cork home hits 94 percent heat reduction with Enerphit

The vast majority of energy upgrade projects aim for low hanging fruit measures, and risk locking buildings and their occupants into needlessly high energy usage, environmental impact and discomfort. This recent home upgrade on the outskirts of Cork City shows what truly deep retrofit looks like.

1970s Devon home becomes certified passive B&B

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live in a passive house, a B&B in Devon could be just the ticket. The winner of the private housing award at the 2013 UK Passivhaus Awards, this upgraded 1970s home proves that even existing buildings can be made passive.

Media HQ shows ultra low energy vision

While Ireland’s minimum energy performance regulations for dwellings have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, standards for non-domestic buildings have remained untouched. Which makes forward-thinking media production company TVM’s new ultra low energy HQ all the more impressive.  

Vernacular passive

A building doesn’t have to be designed as a cube to meet the passive house standard, but it helps. This as yet uncertified passive house in Carlow shows that, climate permitting, less compact designs can be made passive – by pushing the envelope.

Pioneering passive office surpasses expectations

When it comes to actual energy usage, modern buildings rarely perform as expected, with many notionally low energy buildings falling disappointingly short. As discussion continues about how to solve the performance gap, one pioneering Welsh passive building has a different kind of performance gap – it’s using 40% less energy than anticipated.

International selection - From Vienna to New Mexico

Virtually any building, anywhere can achieve certified passive house status, as these four transatlantic buildings show – including a Viennese skyscraper, an upgrade to an NYC home predating the Empire State Building, a German museum housing valuable works of art and a net zero energy home in New Mexico. 

The cost of building passive

Perhaps the most common argument against making passive house mainstream is that it costs too much to build. But as building regulations tighten and an increasingly competitive passive house sector emerges, does that argument hold water?

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