International selection - issue 14

This issue’s collection of inspiring international passive houses includes a striking Black Forest family home, the world’s first ‘passive house premium’ building, a deeply ecological Canadian house, and a New York tower that’s set to be the world’s tallest passive house.

PHPP 9 & designPH

The latest versions of PHPP and designPH are intended to make passive house design both easier and more accurate than ever before — and to plan for a future powered by renewable energy. Jan Steiger of the Passive House Institute explains the latest features of both software packages.


The Energiesprong initiative is planning to deliver drastic energy upgrades to over 100,000 homes in the Netherlands using a wildly ambitious approach to retrofitting the country’s building stock. Now the organisation has moved to the UK, where it is hoping to undertake its first projects next year.

Overheating - a growing threat that mustn't be ignored

As the climates gets warmer, overheating in buildings is likely to get worse — particularly given the modern architectural preference for huge expanses of unshaded glass. But what really causes overheating, is it really worse in low energy buildings, how do passive houses fare, and what can be done to prevent it?

Material impacts

For decades now, European countries have been regulating the amount of energy new buildings can consume for heating and electricity. But as these standards get ever tighter, is time to start controlling the embodied energy and wider environmental impact of building materials — and what’s the best way to do it?

The UK's greenest ever retrofit - 6 years on

This pioneering upgrade project, completed in 2009, turned a Victorian redbrick in Birmingham into one of the UK’s greenest homes. Along with a much wider ecological agenda, the house employed fabric first principles
of insulation and airtightness, and met passive house design targets at a time when the standard was still in its infancy in the UK.

Cork bungalow upgrade phased over 12 years

It’s taken Mick Kiernan more than 10 years to upgrade his Cork bungalow, and it’s still not finished. But along the way he discovered the passive house standard and let its principles guide his way towards a warm, airtight and healthy home. 

Devon one off pushes limits of passive

Huge expanses of unshaded glass are usually a taboo for passive house designers, but with his clients insistent on maximising their wide-angle coastal panorama, this project’s architect found clever ways to integrate the passive house approach with wrapping the house’s ground floor in glass.

New coastal ICF home goes passive at low costs

This house on the coast of County Waterford is built from an insulated concrete formwork shell that delivers an inherently warm and airtight construction, and easily exceeds passive house targets.

Longford self-build goes certified passive on a budget

Three years ago quantity surveyor Ross Cremin set out from scratch with the goal of self-building a passive house on a site in rural County Longford. Here he tells the story of his project and offers advice for others thinking of building their own passive house.

International selection - issue 13

This issue’s selection includes a Chinese apartment block, Finnish social housing, an ambitious New York retrofit, and a German passive house district

Manchester social housing gets passive regeneration

The upgrade of two social housing blocks in Manchester to the Enerphit standard demonstrates how deep energy retrofit can play a part in turning old, run-down estates into vibrant, comfortable, low energy communities.

Enerphit upgrade breathes new life into Dublin home

This ambitious and complicated project — a partial upgrade, partial rebuild of an old detached property in south Dublin — is on course to achieve the onerous Enerphit standard for retrofit.

Warm and healthy Devon flats that need no heating

This affordable housing scheme in Exeter not only embraces a suite of healthy and natural materials, but it has vindicated the local council’s embrace of the passive house standard, with many of the units requiring no additional heating whatsoever.

5 years in a passive house — the occupants’ view

In April 2010, Geoff and Kate Tunstall moved into their pioneering house at Denby Dale. It was one of the UK’s first passive house projects, and the first to be built with a traditional British cavity wall system. Five years later, how are the Tunstalls finding life in a passive house?

Is this the UK's greenest building?

This summer, work was completed on the Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia, which might just be the most sustainable large building ever constructed in Britain.

Ecological passive house built on tight budget

Despite some setbacks, this passive house in Roscommon managed to meet the passive house standard for fairly standard costs — all while emphasising natural materials like untreated timber, cellulose and sheep’s wool.