Projects range from self build straw bale eco-homes to multifamily Passivhaus developments in traditional masonry. Energy efficiency is key to any genuinely sustainable building design and our minimum standard is AECB Silver. Most of our current projects are to the Passivhaus (Passive House) standard. Whilst this focusses on comfort, health and energy use we also consider materials and water efficiency and many other aspects of sustainable design. With all our projects, we take summer comfort very seriously. This is something that is so often overlooked in a climate that we do not associate with heat!
Ty Casim, Passivhaus in Brecon Beacons National Park 2016 onwards
Architect Adrian Cook has created a beautiful contemporary home that sits comfortably with the historic buildings around it. The North elevation (see photo) faces the street allowing the larger windows to face the excellent view to the South. The reclaimed Welsh slate roof and lime render provide a traditional outer skin for a completely modern home built to the Passivhaus standard. This is no pastiche, just quality materials well detailed. The Progression Passivhaus windows have no visible frame avoiding the temptation to add glazing bars and other fake details.
As with Slate Cottage below, the building was completed to ‘lock up’ by Mike Whitfield Construction and achieved an excellent (preliminary) airtightness test result of 0.18 ach @ 50Pa. The owner will complete the fit out including electrics and plumbing with help from friends.
Blaenffos Owner-Build Passivhaus On site February 2017
The owner is building this low-budget Passivhaus home with the help of two local carpenters from the same village. Working with Architect Charles Grylls we were able to provide simple but detailed plans with almost all junctions fully detailed and proven from previous buildings. Initially sceptical of the minimalist details, the builders now say that it would be an easy and quick way to build any house, Passiv or otherwise. The site is a 3 hour drive away but site visits have not been required. Emailed progress photos and the occasional call or text has been all the supervision required.
Curious to see progress first hand, we did visit site 8 weeks into the frame build which had started just as storm Doris hit Wales. Our excuse to visit was to demonstrate window installation. This we were able to do despite heavy rain, by working behind the breather membrane that wraps the whole house.
Architect Charles Grylls strikes a pose in the driving rain, March 29th 2017. The windows installed but are covered by house wrap awaiting a dry day to expose them.
The owner’s tastes and a very tight budget means this will be another tin roofed, local-timber-clad example. A dead ash tree from the site has been planked and will be used for interior carpentry including stairs.
Ty Pren, Herefordshire 2015
This project with Dempsey Decourcey Architects was built by Mike Whitfield Construction and completed in summer 2015. The design is simple and to a tight budget but with some lovely details and superb quality thanks to Mike and his team. The innovative timber construction method has been developed with Charles Grylls and Mike Whitfield over a number of projects allowing high quality and cost certainty.
As with all his projects, Charles has helped the clients design their own home.
Building services design by Alan Clarke is, as ever, simple but highly efficient with the building doing much of the work. Alan evaluated a number of heating options within the tight budget. The very low heat demand meant that LPG bottle gas was the cheapest option for this village home away from mains gas. (The final airtightness test was 0.16 ach at 50Pa.)
Slate Cottage, Herefordshire 2015
This second Passivhaus with Dempsey Decourcey Architects started on site, spring 2015. The construction system and detailing is almost the same as for Ty Pren but with an even smaller budget and a more contemporary design. Corrugated Aluzinc replaces reused welsh slate for the roof but the proposed charred timber cladding was a step to far for the neighbours. We have high hopes that it will deliver a lot for very little. The clients are completing the interior themselves whilst personalising the build. The budget was about £1000/m² for an air and weather tight insulated shell ready to fit out. The preliminary air test result was 0.26 airchanges at 50Pa.
Hope View House 2017
This 3 bed single storey Passivhaus by Warren Benbow Architects started on site in January 2016. It is a bold but simple design bermed into a South facing bank. As the model shows, the building (below the trees at the top of the slope) is designed to be almost invisible but with a dramatic view out. Heating is by ground source heat pump that simply keeps the concrete ground floor a degree or so above room temperature.
The South facade is fully glazed but solar gain is controlled by the deep overhang to ensure excellent summer comfort.
Photo by Tracey Iwanczuk.
Ledbury Passivhaus 2012
PHPP, Therm , design details and site support for a selfbuild Passive House in Ledbury. design by Janet Cotterell constructed by Mike Whitfield Construction. Completed May 2012. Building services design by Alan Clarke. Certified October 2012. Wall and floor lights by LockLamp.com
St Katherine’s Fields Eco-Homes 2012
Seven eco homes near Worcester built to the AECB Silver Standard. Design by Architype and built by IE Developments Hereford. We provided energy design advice and PHPP modelling as well as site support and detailing. This was the first project to receive AECB Silver certification.
Clehonger Passivhaus 2012
A cost efficient single family timber frame Passivhaus designed and built by Mike Whitfield Construction with Architectural design input from Howard Meadowcroft and building services by Alan Clarke. We provided PHPP and design detail mentoring as well as design of the septic tank system and evaluation of water efficiency options. Greywater heat recovery was evaluated but rejected. Wall lights by LockLamp.
Passivhaus Home & Artist’s Studio Near Borth 2012
Elemental Solutions provided Passivhaus energy modelling and design consultancy including site supervision for the Architects. Building services design by Alan Clarke and ground source heat pump by John Cantor. We also carried out site investigations and advised on wastewater disposal.
Lancaster Co-Housing 2012
Cost effective family housing to the Passivhaus standard with Eco-Arc and Alan Clarke. We provided Passivhaus design advice, PHPP modelling and detailed building services design for this 40+ dwelling co housing development using cavity wall construction. We provided practical detailing, Therm analysis of thermal bridges, site supervision and thermography to identify issues during construction. The project has undergone extensive post occupancy evaluation.
You can find more information on ecoarc’s website here.
Energy Efficient Retrofits
1950s House in Monmouth
Major remodelling and external insulation has breathed new life into this previously hard to heat home in Monmouth. Working with Dempsey Decourcey Architects we managed to reconfigure the internal spaces to avoid the need to build an extension as had been previously assumed.
Welsh Farmhouse Retrofit
Working with Dempsey Decourcy Architects, Mike Whitfield Construction and Alan Clarke Services Engineer. 100mm of wood fibre internal insulation and a new solid ground floor to increase headroom. The first floor is supported on beams that are supported on posts on the warm side of the insulation avoiding the risk of joist end rot.
Conversion of a garage into an AECB Silver Standard Studio 2016
An innovative floating ply floor over insulation supports a new structure inside an existing garage building made of lightweight block. The oak cruck frame supports the purlins and a mezanine floor and adds interest in this tiny super-insulated building.
Super-insulation of Stone Cottage 2011
Working with Mike Whitfield Construction to provide strategic advice and energy modeling for a low energy renovation on an exposed site. The building was externally insulated and timber-clad using Larsen Trusses. This protected the stone walls from driving rain on this very exposed site.
Withy Cottage Straw Bale Eco-Home 2002
The self designed and built ‘eco-home’ and the office for Elemental Solutions. Superinsulated, local timber frame with straw bale and cellulose insulation. Far from Passivhaus due to the poor form factor but a valuable lesson and turning point. Listed on the AECB Low Energy Buildings Database More information soon.