Burneston: A Passivhaus Case Study

Burneston: A Passivhaus Case Study

We were delighted to apply our expertise in sustainable design to help a private client in North Yorkshire create a fantastic home based on ‘Passivhaus’ principles.

Passivhaus, or Passive House as it is also known, is a global energy performance standard that originated in Germany in the early 1990s.

Its approach to construction and design reduces the need for energy by considering elements such as the orientation of the windows, the air flow around the building, and the thickness of insulation.

Here at seven architecture, we have a specialist team of sustainable design architects within our zero-e division to integrate environmental principles and a low energy approach across all our projects.

Heading up our team is Andrew Burningham, a Passivhaus-accredited architect. His understanding of the Passivhaus principles of design is invaluable to our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of all our work, from private homes to large-scale new developments and refurbishments.

Andrew has worked closely with our clients on the design of their new-build house in Burneston, in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire.

The design is based on Passivhaus standards, and all materials used for construction are ‘A’ rated under the BRE (Building Research Establishment) Green Guide to Specification which rates a material’s impact on the environment.

The appearance of the building is informed by, rather than creating a pastiche of, aspects of the traditional architecture within Burneston. This has resulted in a building with an identity which suits its local surroundings but which is contemporary in its approach to sustainability.

In accordance with Passivhaus principles, a ‘fabric first’ approach to energy efficiency has been applied to both the design and construction of the building. This means that the building does the sustainability work, for example by maximising insulation and air tightness.

High levels of thermal insulation with low U-values (the measure of effectiveness of an insulator) have been created. In addition, thermal bridges, which result in wasteful heat transfer, have been eliminated through detailed and thoughtful design.

A holistic approach has been taken to the ventilation of the property using MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery), while optimised building details ensure high levels of ‘air-tightness’.

The building is oriented in such a way to make the most of natural daylight and solar energy. Maximised glazing is incorporated to the southern aspect to make use of solar gain, free heat and light, and there is minimised glazing to the northern aspect to reduce heat loss. Deciduous trees and landscaping provide summer shading to south elevation.

An ASHP (air source heat pump) system, which absorbs heat from the outside air, is used in conjunction with solar thermal panels, while rainwater is harvested through specialised low water use sanitary-ware.