Passivhaus Affiliate

Rocking Horse Nursery becomes 1st commercial Aberdeen Passivhaus

The University of Aberdeen opened the doors to a £1.8m on campus Passivhaus nursery for the pre-school children of students and staff in August 2015. Achieving Passivhaus certification in May 2016, the 574m2 building is the first commercial Passivhaus in Scotland. 

Rocking Horse Nursery: University of Aberdeen

Designed by BMJ Architects and built by Burns Construction the new nursery will occupy approximately 100 children and staff. The scheme was a popular participant in last year's 2015 UK Passivhaus Open Days. Along with the fabric first approach, the building adopts energy efficient lighting and appliances, rainwater recycling and grey water for the toilets. It also meets BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. 

Professor Wolfgang Feist, Director of the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, and his colleague Dieter Herz presented the nursery with the certification plaque. Fiest also delivered a seminar on the importance of the Passivhaus ethos in delivering a sustainable future for our following generations. 

Rocking Horse Nursery Wolfgang Fiest May 2016Prof Wolfgang Fiest presenting Rocking Horse Nursery with Passivhaus certification plaque


The Passivhaus design provides a high level of comfort for users, while consuming very little energy for heating or cooling. This project highlights Aberdeen University’s commitment to providing sustainable and environmentally-friendly new infrastructure.

Calum Proctor, Project manager at the University of Aberdeen


Key team

Client: University of Aberdeen

Architect: BMJ Architects

Main Contractor: Burns Construction

PH Consultant: Future Komfort

Structural Engineers: Cameron & Ross

BREEAM & M&E Consultants: K J Tait

Quantity Surveyors: WI Talbot & Partners

Acoustic ConsultantSandy Brown

Landscape Architect: Susan McFadzean Partnership

Ecologist: Direct Ecology

Passivhaus Certifier: Herz & Lang GmbH


Rocking Horse Nursery external louvers
Rocking Horse Nursery main entrance
Rocking Horse Nursery external cladding Rocking Horse Nursery classroom


The Passivhaus nursery is constructed from a hybrid system of Glulam Frame and Scotframe Val-U-Therm Kit.


8mm Rockpanel Chameleon cladding & timber cladding on 235mm Val-U-Therm wall panels.


Single ply membrane (Dark Grey) on 420mm insulation on Val-U-Therm roof panels.


43 concrete pile foundations are surrounded by 120mm of insulation, with a further 300mm under the floor. Floor finish on 65mm screed on100mm insulation on floor slab. 

Windows & Doors

Internorm's triple glazed composite timber/aluminium windows & aluminium doors. Quadruple-glazed Fakro skylights.


Building Performance

  • Airtightness  0.48ach@50pascals

  • Thermal Energy demand 14kWh/m2.yr

  • Thermal Energy load 13W/m2

  • Primary Energy demand 109120kWh/m2.yr

  • Form Factor (ext. area/TFA) 499.16

A Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) unit works alongside Air-Source Heat Pumps to recover internal heat and pre-heat incoming air to reduce the amount of energy required.

Learn more about the performance targets required to meet the Passivhaus Standard in a European climate here.


Burns Construction Ltd are very proud to have played a major part in receiving Passivhaus accreditation for the first commercial project in Scotland. Whilst the process was a steep learning curve for us here at Burns, thanks must be given to the assistance from the Design Team and all associated with the project in delivering the initial goal from the outset through to completion.

Douglas Farmer, Director of Burns Construction Ltd 

Further Information

BMJ Architects

University of Aberdeen

6th June 2016

< Back To News