Passivhaus Affiliate

10 Years of Passivhaus: A beacon for the construction industry

Passivhaus ambassadors reveal their most loved projects from the past decade to commemorate the Trust's tenth anniversary and in anticipation for the UK Passivhaus Awards 2021. For the second in this series we hear from PHT Chair, Chris Herring.

Passivhaus Trust 10th Anniversary

Chris HerringChris Herring

Chris Herring was a founder of the Passivhaus Trust and has been Chair since its inception. He has been an AECB Trustee for 25 years and is joint Managing Director of PHT Patron the Green Building Store 

Chris became interested in Passivhaus in the early noughties, looking at new approaches to more sustainable construction. A visit to the International Passivhaus Conference in 2007, alongside Nick Grant, convinced him that Passivhaus was the beacon that the construction industry needed. 


What is your Passivhaus pick from the past decade?

The Denby Dale Passivhaus comes straight to mind, helping to pave the way for Passivhaus to take off in the UK. Completed 11 years ago, it has made a lovely home with everything we have come to expect from a Passivhaus. 

I admit to being a little biased, as it was modelled and built by the Green Building Store in-house team, and I am inordinately proud of what we achieved, but that is not the reason for this nomination.  

Denby Dale Passivhaus ©Green Building Store


Why is this Passivhaus special?

It was in the very first handful of Passivhaus homes completed in the UK and the first certified Passivhaus to be built with cavity wall construction. It is also personally special for me as it marked a turning point and seminal time in my life. The building has allowed thousands to learn about lessons learnt, from guided tours to training days.

It is a great house and a great home. But my real answer is that this home should not be unusual: all homes should be built like this. It might seem perverse, but the Denby Dale Passivhaus was special for me because it actually wasn’t very extraordinary.  

But my real answer is that this home should not be unusual: all homes should be built like this. It might seem perverse, but the Denby Dale Passivhaus was special for me because it actually wasn’t very extraordinary.   


The budget was tight. In hindsight, it was crazy given that when we started, we knew no one in the UK who had managed to build a Passivhaus, and we had to learn pretty much everything on the job. No Grand Designs ambitions here, just a modest house that sits well in its surroundings; Well built, well detailed and well insulated. Passivhaus should not be unique - it should be the norm. 

Denby Dale Passivhaus


We built with cavity wall construction because most builders in the UK, including our building team, are most familiar with this construction. We sourced most of the materials from the local builders’ merchant. We developed replicable details that were affordable and simple to build, and which we shared widely afterwards.

Having said this, when building Denby Dale Passivhaus, we learnt that Passivhaus is special. We learnt to build accurately, efficiently, and make all that insulation work as it should. 

Denby Dale Passivhaus

Perhaps most crucially, we learnt that people are right at the heart of a good building. From the vision we shared right at the beginning with Geoff and Kate, our fantastic clients, through to the teamwork that enabled us to achieve one of the first certified Passivhaus homes, this lesson is one we have been sharing ever since.  

Denby Dale Passivhaus Team Denby Dale Passivhaus Kirklees Mayor visit


A key tip for those starting a similar project?

There is lots of training & expert advice available now, but our simple focus in those early days was to achieve the Passivhaus standard because we were not sure we could. With thousands of Passivhaus buildings in the UK, my tip is not to build what we did!

Denby Dale Cavity Wall Construction Denby Dale Passivhaus Cavity Wall Denby Dale Passivhaus Cavity Wall Ties

We used a lot of concrete, and frankly, now we know how to deliver tiny operational energy loads (alongside high levels of comfort and wellbeing), we need to think about materials. Consider the carbon and ecological impact of the materials you are specifying or using. Use Tim Martel’s excellent PHPP plugin, PHribbon (or get someone to do it for you) and examine your embodied energy.  


What Passivhaus projects are you excited to see progress? 

Retrofit is the real challenge. Since completing Denby Dale, Green Building Store have completed four radical retrofits, two of which have reached the EnerPHit standard, but all learning the lessons from Passivhaus. Radical efficient deep retrofit approaches while reducing the inelegantly named ‘carbon burp’ and ecological impact are what I find exciting as we face the challenge of our huge inefficient housing stock in the UK.


Cre8 Barn- Stirley Community Farm Applying Diathonite at Holmfirth Farmhouse retrofit
Lower Royd radical retrofit

UK Passivhaus Awards 2021What are you expecting from the next UK Passivhaus Awards cohort?

I want to see elegant simplicity in design with genuine value engineering. One of our challenges in construction is to build in a ‘lean’ way, designing out complexity and costs and minimising the use of materials, with form very much following function. I would like innovative approaches to material specification, reducing embodied energy and minimising the ecological impact of our human activity. And finally, I would love to see some truly innovative approaches to deep retrofit.   

Call for entries open

A call for entries to the 2021 UK Passivhaus Awards is now open! Have you got a winner?


All images unless otherwise stated ©Green Building Store

Further Information

Denby Dale Passivhaus

Denby Dale Passivhaus: 5 years on

Previous PHT story: 10 years of Passivhaus: Beauty far from skin deep - 7 January 2021

Previous PHT story: Passivhaus Trust Tenth Anniversary - 25 November 2020

UK Passivhaus Awards Hall of Fame

26th February 2021

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