Passivhaus Affiliate

Passivhaus at the heart of community regeneration

Participants of the Passivhaus Student Competition, sponsored by Tarmac, visit the UK’s largest EnerPHit. Erneley Close completed in 2015 and is a shining example of One Manchester’s regeneration schemes. Architecture students drew inspiration from the challenging retrofit to apply to their own Passivhaus design projects. The visit was hosted by Dean Myers, One Manchester, who has been involved with the project from the outset, and Phil Summers, rgen development. A site visit followed a presentation on the regeneration scheme.

Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel

Participants of the 2018 Passivhaus Student Competition, sponsored by Tarmac, visit Erneley Close, Manchester

Students heard how Passivhaus not only improved the buildings energy efficiency, but had a beneficial impact on the wider community, lowering fuel poverty by providing truly affordable tenancies, reducing local crime & anti-social behaviour, and facilitating a strong community pride. 

Underused garages were replaced with new parking spaces and a central shared community garden which opens the surrounding spaces and harbours natural neighbourhood surveillance and social placemaking.

The plant room is housed above the central communal staircase and runs the width of the building. It replaces the previous refuse shoot, which has eliminated bad smells caused by centralised bins waiting to be emptied fortnightly, and alleviated anti-social behaviour.

Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel

A phased approach was intended to work on 7 flats simultaneously, however due to numerous issues on site, this was not feasible. After being decanted and enduring almost eighteen months of construction, fifty percent of the original residents are still housed here. There are a few different tenures to contend with. Two of the properties have leaseholders, one of which is subletting, which may cause issues with handover and maintenance as it is uncontrolled by the housing association, although guidance is available.

The average heating & hot water bills for the residents is 52p a week. Some residents have never had the heating on in their 3 years of occupation. Students visit on a hot day with the external temperatures reaching 24C, and lucky to gain access inside an apartment which was pleasantly cool inside.  

The new roof does allow for the addition of a small array of PV, which could potentially bring the building to zero carbon targets - however, service penetrations would need to be carefully considered. Passivhaus was considered for the adjacent bungalows, but eventually deemed unfeasible due to a poor form factor. They were upgraded to a high standard of thermal efficiency with external wall insulations and internal renovation. Similar exterior cladding unifies the block with the estates collective aesthetics.

Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel
Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel
Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel

Retrofitting has been more expensive than knocking down and starting a build from scratch, but Myers explains that their priority has always been the tenants and the people.  The upgrades to the estate facilitated maintaining and building upon the existing community and demolition was never considered. Tenants were consulted throughout the project.

After more than a year of gathering monitoring data, conducted by the University of Salford, a report disseminating how the building is performing, and analysing the cost benefits of the scheme can be viewed here. Retrofitting to this standard is more costly - but the report hopes to prove the benefits are worth it, and that the performance guarantee is true.


You must expect to unearth and react to unforeseen problems in a retrofit, which results in recalculating in PHPP and innovating as you go. This all costs money’.

 Dean Myers, One Manchester

The condition of the existing building fabric was in a worse condition than originally anticipated, which result in a redesign of the thermal works and airtightness strategy to meet the required criteria for Passivhaus. The existing floor plan layout has not been changed, and tricky details such as thermal bridges at the existing access balconies had to be dealt with.  Each unit was individually tested for airtightness, and thankfully the contractor appointed an airtightness champion which was instrumental in meeting EnerPHit targets.

Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel Erneley Close Image ©Yogini Patel

When asked about the projects main challenges you would expect the building fabric upgrade issues to dominate, but once again – social aspects are prominent. Summers explains that an important part of the project was to create a new image to re-brand the estate, hence the adoption of the eye-catching chameleon cladding. Keeping this clean has been an unexpected battle with the local pigeons and falconry has been used to deter homing roosts!

It's like a colourful little oasis in an area of Manchester in need of regeneration. It has also helped boost house prices in the area. Erneley close provides a good model for regenerating sustainable communities in urban places.


Further Information

PHT projects gallery: Erneley Close

Maximising the Benefits of PassivHaus: A guide to supporting older occupants.

Erneley Close passive house retrofit: resident experiences and building performance in retrofit to passive house standard

A selection of images can be viewed on the PHT flickr account. All image credits  ©Yogini Patel/ Passivhaus Trust

4th May 2018

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