Big picture - Triana House boutique hotel stars

The first passive house certified hotel in Seville’s historic centre defies the challenges posed by its hot climate, small size, and preservation requirements, showcasing innovative strategies to mitigate heat and maximize energy efficiency.

by Juan Manuel Castaño and María Vico, Castaño & Asociados Passivhaus

Banking on sustainability stars

Last year Irish banking behemoth AIB launched discounted development finance for homes certified to the Irish Green Building Council’s rating system, the Home Performance Index. But what was behind the move, how is it being received and does this indicate the finance industry is getting serious about green homes?

Additional words by Jeff Colley

Bonny in Clyde stars

How do you solve a problem like decarbonising social housing, and do so rapidly, en masse, in a manner that lifts vulnerable people out of fuel poverty while delivering warm, healthy homes? River Clyde Homes may be about to pull off the seemingly impossible.

Seal of office

While the passive house standard has had a lasting impact on the design and construction of new homes in Ireland, progress has been slower in commercial property. With the business world under increasing pressure to take meaningful climate action while providing better working conditions for staff, one new office building in the southeast may be a sign of things to come – and a beacon for a UN-affiliated project.

From small screen to deep green stars

The new Oxfordshire studio of Charlie Luxton Design, the practice of the well-known TV presenter and architectural designer, is deeply impressive for its exhaustive attention to sustainability across every facet of the project, from energy use and embodied carbon to the reuse of materials and the ecological restoration of the three-and-a-half-acre site. It’s a gorgeous building, too.

Licence to skill

The ever-tightening ambitions to integrate sustainability throughout Ireland’s new and existing buildings won’t be realised unless we can find smart, flexible ways to upskill the industry. Lis O’Brien of Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) explains how Digital Academy for Sustainable Built Environment (DASBE) has it cracked.

Hope springs eternal

What happens when one of Ireland’s most seasoned passive house builders and a renowned design-led architecture practice collaborate? They create a head turning, high density passive house scheme that showcases the aesthetic possibilities of external insulation.

Big picture - Huff'n'Puff Haus - a straw bale passive house

If you were choosing how to build in a bushfire-prone region of Australia, you could be forgiven for skirting over the possibility of packing your walls with straw. Talina Edwards of Envirotecture describes an extraordinary off-grid passive house which uses straw and a range of low embodied carbon building materials to blitz regulatory requirements on fire, while delivering year-round comfort levels that the neighbours can scarcely believe.

Six of one

The climate emergency demands that we minimise the energy we use to operate buildings, as well as the energy we use to construct new buildings, where new buildings are needed. A Passive House Association of Ireland-commissioned analysis may start to shed some light on the embodied carbon impact that different build methods can have.

Up to 11

In issue 38 of Passive House Plus we published an in-depth assessment comparing the build specs including five wall types to a typical Irish house. To enable the industry to fairly compare a broader range of build options, we now expand that analysis with the addition of four timber frame wall types and two insulated concrete formwork systems

Visionary vernacular

Can a low energy building be truly sustainable if it doesn’t fully consider its occupants needs? The latest offering from one of Scotland’s leading green designers uses passive house knowhow to signal the way to pragmatic, modest, occupant-centric architecture.

Adaptation sensation

Sometimes a building comes along that asks challenging questions. Chris Croly, building services engineering director of BDP, describes one such example – a building designed to tackle the specific energy profile of offices, while trialling an innovative, dynamically controlled approach to adaptive comfort.

Safety net

At times the need to put roofs over the heads of vulnerable people and the need to tackle climate change and unsustainable resource use can seem in direct opposition. But one new Welsh scheme shows that doesn’t have to be the case.

Phit the bill

A passive house, by its nature, requires a much smaller amount of energy than a typical home, and when its heating demand is met by electricity, and you cover it in solar PV panels, you can start to see the potential for a whole new generation of passive homes that are semi-independent of the electricity grid. This is the case for Carrstone House in Bedfordshire, which generates so much solar energy it had to be registered as a power station.

A grid of their own

A new development in County Wicklow demonstrates how typical housing estates might be turned into electricity microgrids through solar power and battery storage, with residents buying and selling renewable energy from each other, helping to insulate them from price spikes and outages.

Passive Power

A passive house, by its nature, requires a much smaller amount of energy than a typical home, and when its heating demand is met by electricity, and you cover it in solar PV panels, you can start to see the potential for a whole new generation of passive homes that are semiindependent of the electricity grid. This is the case for Carrstone House in Bedfordshire, which generates so much solar energy it had to be registered as a power station.

It's a lovely house to live in now

How do you take a painfully cold, unhealthy house and make it comfortable and affordable to heat? Five years ago, one Irish family decided enough was enough, and took decisive action to transform their period property into a cosy, healthy home where the heating system ticks along without the homeowners touching it.

Northern comfort

In trickier housing markets, the instincts of house builders have often tended towards building to the worst legal standards required – or worse. One award-winning new project in Belfast’s suburbs is showing that it doesn’t have to be this way – and that developers can thrive by pitching homes designed to ensure comfort and low bills at increasingly energy-conscious consumers.

Flat pack on track

What do you get if you cross a quantum physicist, a forensic accountant, a merchant, an engineer and a software-whizz-kid architect? A terrible punchline presumably. But as Jeff Colley discovered on a trip to Sussex, you get something not to be laughed at: a collaborative approach that may be about to unlock a scalable, highly sustainable, circular economy-proof, flat pack build approach.

Going swimmingly

The environmental journalist George Monbiot has written about how we need an era of ‘public luxury’ and ‘private sufficiency’ — as opposed to private luxury for the few — to mitigate overconsumption and climate breakdown. And it’s hard to think of a better example of public luxury than this superb new leisure centre in Exeter, which consumes just a fraction of the energy of typical facilities, and is set to be certified to a bespoke version of the passive house standard.

Hollywood star on 50 years of eco activism

Actor Ed Begley Junior is one of America’s best-known and longest-standing environmental activists. Fresh from lighting up our screens in the final season of Better Call Saul, Begley spoke to Passive House Plus about the roots of his activism, and what drives him on in the face of such adversity.

Breath of life

The skilful deep retrofit of a red-brick semi on the south side of Dublin has brought an old property into the 21st century in terms of energy performance and living space, while carefully upgrading its century-old façade with breathable materials.

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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.