Diary Entry No.1 - Background Information

Over the following months, Paul McAlister Architects will be posting a regular diary documenting the construction of the much anticipated Crawfordsburn Passive House in Co. Down.  We follow the Building of this Certified Passive house, the second in Northern Ireland, by Passive house and Sustainable Architects. The clients, Paddy and Helen McGlinchey, first approached us in 2010 wanting to build an energy efficient, cost-effective home on a challenging plot of land. The site is surrounded by farm buildings and has glorious views over the countryside towards the south. Following initial meetings, we confirmed that the clients’ initial desires were indeed possible and they were quickly satisfied that the passive house design approach was the route for them.

A Passive House or Passivhaus is a building constructed using the principles of passive design – a concept based on minimising heat losses and maximising heat gains, thus enabling the application of simplified building services.

Typically this includes optimising insulation levels with minimal thermal bridges, high thermal performance windows, very low air-leakage through the building envelope, and utilisation of passive solar and internal gains with good indoor air quality maintained by a mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery.

In this passive house the installation of mechanical heat ventilation and heat recovery systems will facilitate the 15 kWh/m2/annum space heating demand. In comparison the heat demand of a conventional house is typically 150 kWh/m2/annum, so the Passivhaus will demonstrate a significant reduction in energy consumption.

To date we have been able to offer a package including design, energy consultancy and management of the scheme. The design has been tested ‘in house’ using software Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP) to ensure that the dwelling, when constructed, meets and performs to the standards required.

Following detailed design studies and testing the subsequent design forms the most passively effective rectangular shape, with a long facade facing south for optimum solar gain. The clients’ desire for a balcony was integrated into the design to double as a shading device to avoid overheating to the internal spaces in summer months

In the coming weeks, Paul McAlister Architects will document the Passivhaus construction progress with regular instalments of the ‘Passivhaus diaries’, we will highlight the challenges and rewards of being Passive house Architects and Passive House construction in Northern Ireland.

In the next diary entry we will discuss the costs involved in passive house construction.

The following photograph illustrates the final design.

 Design rendered image - Passive House (Passivhaus) Crawfordsburn

Design rendered image - Passive House (Passivhaus) Crawfordsburn