Passivhaus Affiliate

New Passivhaus primary in the pipeline

From Helsinki, a newly published study examining indoor air quality and health outcomes across 129 primary schools, quizzing 12,000 pupils, has found coughs, colds and headaches are linked to inadequate indoor air quality. This result provides much needed further evidence of the benefits of improved air quality that is inherent to Passivhaus buildings, particularly for our youngest.

Thornhill Primary sketch | ECD Architects


Good news then, that a new Passivhaus Primary school is in the final stages of the planning process. Thornhill Primary School in Houghton Regis in Central Bedfordshire will gain a new Passivhaus building, with the existing school to be retained and refurbished, allowing the school to triple its intake.

Thornhill Primary site plan | ECD Architects

Thornhill Primary aerial plan | ECD ArchitectsThe expansion is part of a much larger scheme which will bring more than 5000 new homes to the small town. The developers have granted a parcel of land for the school and are contributing £7.8 million to its development in a Section 106 agreement.

In pre-application discussions between the project's architects, PHT member ECD Architects, and Central Bedfordshire Council's Sustainability Officer, the Passivhaus standard was agreed to replace BREEAM as the building's environmental goal - a recognition that Passivhaus, as a more focused and specific target, is much more stringent in terms of building energy performance. BREEAM targets concerning water usage and management will be retained. Constructed in CLT, the building will also pay attention to keeping its embodied carbon emissions low.


Thornhill Primary render 2 | ECD Architects


The design and construction of the new facilities is also planned to follow the principles of the Circular Economy - striving to lock in and retain the value of materials used within a building, and using the built asset as a material bank during its operation, to be unlocked at the end of its usable life. Every element in the building will have a material passport, enable its life to be traced through future maintenance or recovery stages. The principle aligns with the idea that the materials going into this new building will exist long into the lives of the young children who will be educated here.

ECD Architects: Sketch, Thornhill Primary


In 2020, the Trust will be launching a campaign to promote the Passivhaus standard for educational buildings, from primary schools to university campuses, demonstrating not only how Passivhaus offers the best possible environment for learning, but also how the lowest carbon emissions targets can be reached in those buildings that house our future generations - on whom the Climate Emergency will have the greatest impact.

Sponsorship is currently being sought - if you would like to get involved please email

All images ECD Architects


Further information

Previous PHT story: Passivhaus schools - 13 February, 2017

ECD Architects

Exciting new plans for Thornhill Primary - Houghton Regis News Desk, November 2019

16th December 2019

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