Passivhaus Affiliate

Appetite for Passivhaus in Scotland

Passivhaus Social Glasgow: Developing Passivhaus for affordable housing and public buildings

The sell-out Passivhaus Social event held in Glasgow at the end of May was attended by over 250 delegates who learned how the standard can aid the implementation of the Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change policy, which aims for over 42% CO2 reductions by 2020. Several exhibitors were showcasing Passivhaus products & services alongside a range of speakers who shared experiences and lessons on delivering Passivhaus and why it should be the first choice for social housing.

The event forms part of the Trust’s Passivhaus Social campaign, targeted towards encouraging housing providers to discover the benefits of building to the Passivhaus Standard and the challenges to embrace for future social housing. Based on the interest and attendance displayed at the event, it is clearly acting as a catalyst for innovation for the construction industry, and here are a few key priorities for Scottish social housing that the Standard can tackle well.

Long-term Performance

Kirsty Lewin, Head of the Scottish Government’s Climate change policy hub gave a background into the ambitious carbon reduction targets. The 15 – 20 year scheme titled Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) commits the Government to investing more than half a billion pounds over the next four years setting out a clear commitment to develop this programme with substantial annual funding. By 2050, SEEP aims to transform the energy efficiency of buildings so that, wherever feasible and practical, they are near zero carbon.

Passivhaus buildings use up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling, and up to 70% less energy overall, than conventional buildings do. The rigorous quality assurance process projects must undergo, guarantees that buildings will perform exactly as designed making them key to achieving the climate change commitments. They also future-proof occupants from increasing unexpected weather patterns, helping to create a resilient building stock.


Combat Fuel Poverty

A reoccurring theme in several presentations identified the importance of tackling fuel poverty in Scotland. Priority regeneration areas have been identified in Glasgow, and the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland equals 26.5% (or 649,000.) [1] For this reason alone, it is clear why Passivhaus is gaining interest & traction here, as it can offer an effective robust solution. Low energy bills result in truly affordable tenancies that are comfortable to inhabit all year round. This results in fewer rent arrears and less residents’ complaints. Increasing the energy efficiency of homes removes a dependency on fuel requirements to effectively & comfortably use the building; This shields tenants from steep increases in fuel prices.

There is currently no Passivhaus social housing in Glasgow but we are very interested to find out if this can help us tackle fuel poverty in the city and provide extremely energy-efficient housing for our residents.

Councillor Kenny McLean, city convenor for neighbourhoods, housing and public realm

The extra income tenants have saved from fuel bills can not only be life changing for the occupants, but also have huge impacts on the local economy, as more spending should occur.

Emma Osmundsen -  

[1] Figures from Energy Action Scotland 2016.


Contractors, clients & architects from across the UK shared experiences of delivering Passivhaus with an impressive breadth of schemes from residential to non-domestic, at various budgets – expelling the myth that Passivhaus is exclusive to bespoke ‘grand-designs’.

The direct cost savings are not just for tenants. As mentioned above, the energy savings result in immediate cheaper running costs, but Passivhaus buildings must be of a high-quality construction to meet the criteria. High quality buildings require less maintenance, and over the life of the building, owners will save money.

In some cases, it is cheaper to build to Passivhaus standard due to the significant energy savings. Hereford Archive & Record Centre cost 5% less than building to standard regulations and Exeter’s new leisure centre (out for second tender) will recoup its costs in a few years due to the savings in energy.

Emma Osmundsen @emmaOsmun

Drive costs down, by scaling up says Matt Bridgestock, John Gilbert Architects. Building at scale would help upskill the construction sector – contractors experienced with delivering Passivhaus would no longer need to add risk premiums. Implementing innovative contract and tender processes to encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration as soon as possible, effectively share risk, and clearly define responsibilities can provide significant cost optimisations.

Jonathan Hines, Architype, challenge of costs

There are challenges but do simple things from the beginning to avoid unavoidable expenses. Jonathan Hines reminds us that price is a matter of priority, and to remember the long-term payback, and the value of what is being achieved when building quality housing. Value must be considered when discussing costs.  

An improved supply chain would help bring capital costs down, as the more components that are manufactured in the UK would reduce imports.


Passivhaus social Glasgow May 2018 Passivhaus Social Glasgow
Passivhaus social Glasgow May 2018 Passivhaus social Glasgow May 2018


Mainstream not prototype!

Scotland must be bold & ambitious to make Passivhaus mainstream. Passivhaus has been prototyped on smaller bespoke schemes, or as a trial on part of a larger scheme, and there are many to already learn from. Along with her 5 pillars of Passivhaus Procurement, Emma Osmundsen recommend that clients go visit existing schemes, here in the UK, and internationally. Over the past 7 years Exeter City Council have delivered approximately 100 Passivhaus homes, with care homes and the UK’s 1st Passivhaus leisure centre all in development. The Council’s experience proves how council innovation & persistence can drive change.


Scottish examples of Passivhaus schemes were highlighted by Dormant Estate, John Gilbert Architects & Glasgow City Council who discussed some interesting Passivhaus opportunities such as a 700 unit scheme at the planning stage, 10 minutes north of the city centre.

Ones to watch in Glasgow:

  • Springfield Cross, Dalmarnock
  • Carntyne Church Development, Shettleston
  • Cowlairs Passive

I was bowled over by the growing level of interest in Passivhaus that is developing in Scotland, demonstrated by the huge turnout of people for this event. There was a real buzz all afternoon as people learnt about the speakers' successful experiences of Passivhaus in housing, schools and other non-domestic buildings. I am optimistic this will lead to some exciting new Passivhaus projects developing in Scotland, to help meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious carbon reduction targets. I’ll certainly be working hard to make that happen!

Jonathan Hines, Managing Director Architype 


Special thanks to our host, Glasgow City Council, all the Passivhaus Social sponsors, event exhibitors, and speakers who contributed to a successful event. Our next Passivhaus Social will be taking place in Wales this summer. Watch this space for further information!

If you were inspired by the event and want to learn more, take advantage of a limited number of heavily discounted tickets available to those working for local authorities and housing associations to our next UK Passivhaus Conference, taking place in Leeds on the 13th November. Hear more about Passivhaus and the road to zero carbon, featuring policy insights from international, national, & regional councils.


A full programme  of the Passivhaus Social Glasgow event can be found here, and where available, the presentations are available for download. A selection of photos may be viewed on the Trust's flickr account.


Further Information

Passivhaus Social

Selection of images from the Passivhaus Social Glasgow event.

Scotland’s Climate Change Plan: February 2018

Conference on affordable housing and public buildings comes to Glasgow: Scottish Housing News -  16 May 2018

Why more housing providers should be building to Passivhaus: 24 Housing – 16 March 2017

8th June 2018

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