At Exeter City Living, we believe that developments like the ones below – bringing together Building Biology principles with Passivhaus design – are the very best way forward for housing development. Enjoy browsing through some of the most innovative Passivhaus developments from around the world!

Oak Meadow School (Wolverhampton, UK)

in 2012, Oak Meadow School in Wolverhampton, UK was the winner of the Non-Domestic Category at the Passivhaus Awards. It was the first building of its kind in the UK as, up until that point, the only developments built to Passivhaus standards in the UK had been residential properties.

Lee Fordham, from Architype (the architects for this project), commented, “We knew that we wanted to do it Passivhaus. We worked with a great contractor, great sub-contractors and designed on a great budget. It was about keeping things simple and, from day one, knowing you were going to do Passivhaus.”

He continued, “We’ve had good response back from the Head Teacher and other teachers in the school, in terms of concentration level of children because of the improved air quality in the building. The children and teachers have reported that they are able to concentrate right up until the end of the day since moving into their Passivhaus building.”

Caretaker Scott Purchase added, “Our energy bills have been reduced by as much as 90%. We had an £85,000 bill and that has come down to around £12,000.”

The Passivhaus Ranch (California, USA)

Matt Daigle from Rise visits ranch owners Beate and Bern in Rolling Hills California, to walk around their high-performance energy efficient home. The first ranch of its kind, the owners are in the latter stages of converting the property to Passivhaus standard. This gives them all the advantages of modern, state of the art technology whilst preserving the charm of the original property. 

Beate reveals what the driving forces for the project were, stating their priorities as, “having a really low (carbon) footprint, becoming really energy efficient, and to have a comfortable home that expresses us as a family”. 

Having a ventilation strategy is one of the five core principles of Passivhaus construction. In line with this; the ranch has adopted a ductless ventilation system which works using heat exchange to ensure the fresh air flowing into the home is a similar temperature as the ‘exhaust’ air flowing out. 

Bern adds, “Demographically we would be called early adopters, and I think early adoption is kind of important but it’s also fun, because what we are doing, everyone is going to be doing in a few years’ time”.

UK-First Multi-Residential Passivhaus Development (Exeter, UK)

This exciting development is the first of its kind in the UK – a multi-residential Passivhaus development, delivered by Exeter City Council.

Comprising of 18 flats, the development sits in the beautiful city of Exeter and it’s design is a contemporary take on local residential forms. The designers have cleverly used asymmetric window arrangements and a variety of façade material to produce a varied and interesting exterior, sympathetic to the surrounding area.

Moreover, carefully scaled windows allow for optimum daylight and solar gain levels for enhanced environmental performance.

This holistic passive design strategy allows the homes to be operated without a conventional heating system. At the same time it will avoid overheating in summer and aims to have a minimal environmental impact.

Tiny Rooftop Apartment (Mexico City, Mexico)

Alejandro Herrera faced a two-hour commute each way to architecture school. After writing his final thesis on ‘The Under-Utilisation of Spaces’, he decided to make his lifelong dream of building a house a reality.

He had always wanted to live in the centre of Mexico City and he chose to do so, building a tiny rooftop apartment in the highly desirable Roma Norte District, between the Financial Corridor and the Historic Quarter of the city.

Covering 46 sqm (with an additional 46 sqm of rooftop terrace garden), the initial home was built with a steel frame, plywood and glass panels (to keep costs down). However, seven years later, the exterior had deteriorated with the weather and Herrera decided to create Mexico’s first Passivhaus development.

He commented, “With the efficiency standard of Passivhaus, it’s not just an efficiency standard, but also for a high comfort level.”

To top off what was already an aspirational and innovative development, Alejandro made sure to re-use all of the materials from the original building – not throwing anything away and cleverly finding new purposes for some of the original building materials.

Zero Energy Bills in Victorian Homes (Manchester, UK)

Check out this traditional Victorian home which has been retrofitted to exacting Passivhaus standards. With no radiators throughout the property, the house costs £0 to heat each year, saving the owners around £5000 per annum.

The property also uses innovative toilet mechanisms (sinks on top of the toilets so that dirty hand wash water fills the cistern, saving about 2 litres of water per flush).

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the house has been built and furnished using locally- sourced furniture and materials from in and around the Manchester area.

And to top that all off, the Nobel Prize winning material Graphene has even been used in the build. The paint used to finish the décor is Graphene-infused, making it stretch and contract with any small temperature changes (instead of hairline cracks appearing in the paintwork as in usual builds).

Low Cost Passivhaus Build (Inner London, UK)

This fantastic London home won the Best Green House category in the Homebuilding & Renovating Awards 2018. A former garage on a small plot with tricky access, this modern Passivhaus-certified property was built using SIPS panels on a low budget.

Architect Richard Dudzicki talks us through the considerations and design decisions that he made when building the house.

With a small plot of land to work with in Zone 2 of London (no wider than 5m at some points) and the need for off-street parking, it was certainly a challenge but where there is a will, there is a way, as they say.

The result? A compact house which really packs a punch, including off-street parking, a balcony and even a small swimming pool in the back yard.

We think that developments like the ones above – bringing together Building Biology principles with Passivhaus design – is the very best way forward for housing development. Look out for future blogs about what we are up to and how we build our homes with all of the above in mind.

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