Zero in - Inspired design offers route to net zero energy living

It sounds like an impossibility: a high density, architectural, zero energy home on the tightest of back garden sites, adaptable to the needs of everyone from empty nesters to a family of six without opening a toolbox. But sometimes a project comes along that redefines what is possible.

Home heating choices and air quality

How we heat our homes has a direct impact on the quality of air that we breathe. This impacts on our health. The impact is both local and national. Burning solid fuel – in an open fireplace or stove – generates fine particle pollution which affects the air in our own home and in the local neighbourhood. There are choices and actions we can take that will reduce this pollution.

We can launch a new eco renaissance

The UN’s Scott Foster says deep retrofit of our building stock, and a sustainable built environment, should be at the heart of our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deep retrofit and stimulus

With governments across Europe looking for ways to jump start their economies following the early impact of Covid-19, attention is increasingly turning to deep retrofit. But while there is strong evidence that deep retrofit could play a major role, the devil will be in the detail – and the challenge of dramatically upscaling a nascent industry shouldn’t be underestimated.

Sea change — luxury passive scheme on the Devon coast

Built mostly with clay blocks and sited above the sandy shores of Seaton, on the Devon coast, this new development of eight high-end apartments not only meets the passive house ‘plus’ standard — meaning it pairs the requisite ultra-low energy fabric with a substantial amount of renewable energy generation — but it also boasts serious attention to the use of ecological and healthy material.

International - Issue 34

This issue features the passive house ‘plus’ certified headquarters of Métropole Rouen Normandie, located on the banks of the Seine in Rouen, France, and designed by Jacques Ferrier Architecture.

Good stock - Stylish Stockport retrofit achieves radical energy savings

This inspiring project may be exactly what the deep retrofit sector needs: an example of how to turn a bog standard, cold suburban home of little architectural merit into a climate champion delivering outstanding levels of energy performance, comfort and health, all while transforming the building architecturally.

Pilot light - Pioneering Donegal deep retrofit a roaring success

A rundown 1970s scheme of one-bedroom, single storey social housing units in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, has been transformed into a pioneering development of cosy, A-rated, NZEB-busting homes. The pioneering project – the first completed under Ireland’s deep retrofit pilot scheme – also breathed new life into an unloved green area and is expected to help fuel a regeneration project in the town.

Hell's kitchen - Why cooking can destroy indoor air quality

When it comes to air pollution, we tend to worry most about things like traffic fumes and solid fuel burning — or when it comes to indoor air, condensation, damp and mould. But one of the biggest threats in the air we breathe comes from something we are exposed to almost every day, but rarely think about: cooking. John Hearne reports on the evidence for how cooking affects indoor air quality, and what we can do about it.

Coasting home - Beautifully designed Hampshire home breezes past passive standard

‘Architecture is the blissful moment when the site and brief come together,’ says architect Ruth Butler of the challenge she and her engineer husband faced in designing their family home, on a difficult urban site by the Hampshire coast. But it was a challenge they met and exceeded, because even though they hadn’t even planned to build a passive house, they soon realised the design was on course to meet the onerous energy standard anyway.

Net result Bristol passive house turns energy bills into net profits

A ground-breaking new passive house in Bristol makes superb use of an urban plot to create a bright and spacious home built from ecological materials that — thanks to its huge solar roof and Tesla battery pack — produces more energy than it uses, making it one of the first UK projects to meet the passive house ‘plus’ standard, while also blitzing the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge’s targets for operational energy.

Victoria Falls - 19th century home drops energy demand by 94%

This ambitious renovation and extension of a single-storey Dublin redbrick, bringing it up to an A1 rating while far exceeding the new build NZEB standard, provides a beautifully-detailed blueprint for delivering warmth, comfort, and healthy indoor air — as well as extra space and living density — in historic city centre properties.

Office romance - Passive house supplier walks the walk with new office & factory

When Welsh sustainable building specialists PYC decided to start making their own timber frames, they got down to work designing and building their own factory. Once that was finished, it was time to test their system on their first order: to build their own passive house certified offices right next door – and to be bold enough to decide not to install central heating.

Doctor's orders - The complex relationship between energy retrofits and human health

There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that home energy retrofits, done well, can improve the health of those who receive them — and equally there are horror stories about shoddy upgrades causing damp, mould and illness. But what does the evidence say about how energy upgrades effect occupant health, and what lessons can be learned for the future of how we renovate our homes? Kate de Selincourt reports.

Flat pack hijack

Flat-pack furniture has become a fixture of modern living, but what happens when the same concept is applied to housing – and when the client is an architect seeking to build to passive house and nearly zero energy building levels?

Stirling Work - The passive social housing scheme that won British architecture’s top award

Early in October, Norwich City Council’s Goldsmith Street development become both the first passive house and the first social housing project to win the Stirling Prize, British architecture’s most coveted award, with the judges calling it “high-quality architecture in its purest, most environmentally and socially conscious form”. Leading building energy expert Dr Peter Rickaby visited the scheme for Passive House Plus to see this ground-breaking project for himself.

Marketplace + companies featured in this article

Ecological Building Systems

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

Ecocem

Established in Dublin in 2003, Ecocem Ireland Ltd is an Irish company specialising in the manufacturing of high performance cements