Block buster stars

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.

Big picture - New Zealand rural passive home stars

In the first installment of a brand new photo essay feature, in which we profile passive houses and other eco-buildings from around the world, architect Joe Lyth writes about how the aesthetic of simple backcountry cabins inspired the design of his rural home on New Zealand’s North Island.

Cold Truths: Part 2

Part one of this article mini-series explained how vulnerable people are likely to respond to the energy crisis this winter. But what will happen to occupant health when people cannot afford to turn the heat on, and how will low energy buildings fare?

Cold Truths: Part 1 stars

While most people will feel the squeeze as a consequence of the energy crisis, for vulnerable people spikes in energy prices may be a matter of life and death. In a two-part mini-series of articles in this issue, Kate de Selincourt peers into the void to see how vulnerable people may respond to high energy prices, and what the impact will be for their living conditions and their health. 

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.

Home school

Rural Ireland has a crisis of dereliction, with numerous government policies aimed at breathing new life into thousands of old, vacant buildings. The careful transformation of one 19th century schoolhouse into a small, beautiful home shows a way forward for the sensitive, climate-conscious renovation of many of these properties.

Grist to the mill

The pioneering Cannock Mill development in Colchester is just the second cohousing project in the UK to achieve passive house certification, making it a leader not just in terms of its thermal performance, but in demonstrating the vital role shared living can play in both building vibrant communities, and in mitigating the climate crisis.

Learning curves

Since Erne Campus opened its doors in September, students of South West College in Enniskillen can now experience one of the world’s most environmentally advanced higher education buildings, and the largest building in the world so far certified to the passive house premium standard, in recognition of both its highly efficient building fabric and the large amount of solar energy it generates.

Form and function

Run-down terraces are an all-too-common sight in towns and villages across Ireland, but an ambitious deep retrofit project in Tralee provides an inspiring blueprint for regeneration, taking a cold 19th century terraced office and turning it into a beautifully designed space with tiny energy bills, fit for the 21st century.

Measure everything

A new housing scheme designed by Coady Architects in Wicklow has achieved the highest green home certification – while suggesting that the convictions of one practice on a single project can help to transform the industry.

Witness the Phitness

The deep retrofit of this 1930s dwelling on the Hampshire coast provides a pitch-perfect example of how to transform old dwellings while preserving their original structure and minimising embodied carbon, utterly transforming the living space without the need for an extension, and creating a cosy home that uses two-thirds less energy than before.

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.

Onwards and upwards

This Enerphit project in the suburbs of South Dublin has dramatically transformed and extended a dated 1970s dwelling by adding an extra storey, radically reducing its energy consumption and creating a smartly-designed, light filled family home and office.

International - Issue 39

This issue features a passive house hostel situated in the town of Zegama, on the route of the Camino de Santiago.

Cambridge choses passive house comfort for Kings’ College students

Most people think of cold, cramped and poor-quality buildings when they think of student accommodation, but two new passive house residences at King’s College, Cambridge are rewriting the rulebook, with their focus on occupant comfort, architectural quality, and an enlightened, long-term view of construction costs.

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.

International - Issue 38

This issue features a new nursery school in Paris, built to the Passive House Institute’s low energy building standard.

Seeing the wood for the trees - Placing ecology at the heart of construction

In recent years, as energy efficiency targets for new buildings have tightened, attention has turned to cutting the embodied carbon of buildings by switching from materials like concrete and steel to lower carbon alternatives like timber. But if we are serious about solving the ecological emergency as well as stabilising the climate, we must look even further than embodied carbon, and think more deeply about the core values we apply to materials and buildings, and the manner in which we use them.

By Lenny Antonelli & AECB CEO Andy Simmonds

Runaway train

Following its commitment to retrofit one quarter of dwellings in the country by 2030, the Irish government has now announced the establishment of four new centres of excellence for retrofit training, building on the training approach developed to help the industry meet the NZEB standard for new buildings. Workers from state-owned company Bord na Móna are among the first to undergo training as the company transitions out of peat extraction.

Senior college

The extensive energy and ventilation upgrade of 12 run-down bungalows at College View sheltered housing scheme in Wexford town not only transformed the lives and comfort of residents, but an extensive period of post-occupancy study has yielded important lessons for future projects.

International - Issue 37

This issue features the University of Chicago’s Warren Woods ecological field station, which was the first passive certified building of its type in North America.

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.

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Ecological Building Systems

Our ethos at Ecological Building Systems is to achieve 'Better Building' by adopting a 'Fabric First' approach to design.