Building a better passive school

The team behind a series of passive house schools in Wolverhampton have used the lessons learned from in-depth monitoring of the first two buildings to make the third even better — and cheaper to build.

International selection - Issue 8

This year’s international Passive House Awards featured 21 projects — out of about 100 entries — across six different categories, with shortlisted projects coming from across Europe plus New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States. In this issue’s international section, we pick four buildings from an exceptional selection.

Natural ventilation - does it work?

Such is the importance of ventilation, it’s only right and proper that the efficacy of innovative mechanical solutions such as heat recovery ventilation and demand controlled mechanical extract ventilation is established
based on robust, comprehensive evidence. But how does natural ventilation fare when subjected to the same degree of scrutiny, and can it work in low energy buildings?

Nottingham upgrade achieves dramatic energy savings

Tina Holt had experience advising homeowners on energy efficiency, so when she wanted a low energy home, buying a run-down 1950s dwelling and aiming to turn it passive was an obvious step. She tells her own story below.

Victorian upgrade hits 80% energy saving

Most energy upgrades to historic homes in architectural conservation zones take a fairly gentle approach to insulation and airtightness — this one did the exact opposite.

Dublin hillside rebuild tackles low energy in stages

Some buildings are beyond saving, such as a south Dublin cottage which had to be knocked to deliver the first phase of a sleek new low energy home.

A2 rated extension and upgrade, Co Cork

This upgrade and extension to a rural home in County Cork cut its energy use by almost 90%, bringing it to the cusp of an A1 Building Energy Rating.

Barn-inspired passive house, Ayrshire

This certified passive house on the west coast of Scotland might look like a traditional hayshed, but it’s certainly more energy efficient than one.

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.

Laois self-builder goes hands-on to hit passive

In spite of having no construction experience Steve O’Rourke decided to make his self-build home a passive house, a feat achieved by a well-considered and collaborative approach.

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.

Dublin home reborn with Enerphit upgrade

In spite of a dauntingly complex and crumbling existing building, a detached house in Donnybrook has been modernised to become Ireland’s 2nd certified Enerphit building. 

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.