Passivhaus Affiliate

Scottish equivalent to Passivhaus: FAQs

What is proposed?

Passivhaus precedents

Common concerns  

Upskilling an industry

Passivhaus support

Scaling up

Scottish Passivhaus equivalent

The Passivhaus Trust is actively engaging with the Scottish construction industry to help it scale up to deliver the Scottish Government's ambition for a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard. Read our FAQs (frequently asked questions) as to how we can achieve the scalability needed.   

This campaign is sponsored by Passivhaus Trust members including:

Architype logo
Beyond Carbon logo  John Gilbert Architects logo   

Please get in touch if you would like to become a sponsor [email: info@passivhaustrust.org.uk]

What is proposed?

On 10th January this year, the Scottish Government announced plans to “make subordinate legislation within two years to introduce new minimum environmental design standards for all new build housing to meet a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard”.

Alex Rowley MSP, whose Private member’s Proposed Domestic Building Environmental Standards (Scotland) Bill forms the basis of this legislation,  commented in response “It simply seems obvious to me that we should be doing this. This will help future-proof housing stock, save people money and tackle our climate emergency.’ 

The Passivhaus Trust is speaking with Scottish officials, building regulations team and others within the industry to explore the finer details of the proposed standard. Discover our recommendations here.

Listen to a keynote speech from Scottish Government Minister Patrick Harvie from the 2023 UK Passivhaus Conference.

Scottish equivalent to Passivhaus proposed legislation


Passivhaus precedents

The 2023 Passivhaus Conference had a Scottish showcase of Passivhaus developments highlighting the variety of scales, and appetitie for delivering better buildings in Scotland already underway.

UK Passivhaus Conference 2023: Scottish Showcase

Schools & educational buildings

School buildings have been in the Passivhaus vanguard in Scotland, thanks to an innovative funding mechanism from the Scottish Futures Trust. Projects receiving funding need to meet a very clear energy target of 67 kWh/m2.yr, a comparable target with a typical new build Passivhaus school.  Funding may be reduced based on any performance gap post-completion. The Passivhaus standard effectively eliminates the performance gap, de-risking the securing of funding. It has been impressive how swiftly the industry, supply chain and clients have adjusted to delivering to the Passivhaus standard in the education sector.

It is currently estimated that 35 Passivhaus schools are either underway or in the pipeline in Scotland.

Ardrossan Community Campus. Image credit: North Ayrshire Council Currie Community High School. Image - Edinburgh City Council's planning portal Perth & Kinross High School. Image: NORR Architects
Maybury Primary School & Health Centre. Image: Architype East End Community Campus, Dundee
High schools at Dunfermline Learning Campus. Image credit: AHR Architects

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Social housing 

Social housing providers, local authorities, and selfbuilders have been undertaking Passivhaus projects for several years in Scotland. In the last couple of years there has been a dramatic increase in their scale, with sites of 100, 200 or even 400+ homes.

Garelochhead Passivhaus social housing. Image credit: Tom Manley
Cunningham House, Glasgow
Hanover social housing, Loch Lomond. Image credit: ECD Architects
Forsyth Street Dumfries. Image credit: Robert Potter and Partners
Niddrie Road EnerPHit. Image credit: John Gilbert Architects
Springfield Cross, Glasgow.

Selfbuild projects

Small bespoke homes continue to act as an important testbed for innovation & higher standards. Several scottish homes have won the UK Passivhaus Awards over the years. Please see our UK Passivhaus Projects map for more Scottish Passivhaus projects.

Tigh na Croit. Image credit: Keith Hunter Ostro Passivhaus, Kippen. Image credit: David Barbour New Farmhouse, East Ayrshire. Image credit: Kirsty Maguire Architect Ltd

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Common concerns

Is it more expensive?

The Passivhaus Trust undertook research in 2018 outlining typical Passivhaus uplift costs of between 4-8%, and also shares best practice guidance on delivering cost-effective Passivhaus. Simple early-stage design and a focus on good form factor and orientation are all effective ways to keep costs down. 

 

 Alex Rowley quote: Building a Passivhaus is the epitome of a spend to save approach. By investing now, we save both financially and environmentally over the term of the project. Image credit: MSP Alex Rowley & Hanover HA.

 

The cost to the nation of fuel poverty and poorer performing homes, including the cost to the NHS, as well as cost of needing to upgrade the energy grid, needs to be factored into cost calculations. A 2023 BRE report on the cost of poor housing to the NHS estimated that it costs the NHS £540m a year in England to treat people affected by poor housing. A 2018 Scottish Government report on fuel poverty stated: "In 2014 it was estimated that fuel poverty cost the NHS up to £80m per annum in Scotland due to the health impacts of cold, damp housing. Savings beyond those directly related to the NHS are also relevant, particularly to the public health service, such as those arising from improved mental wellbeing, increased mobility within the home, healthier lifestyles such as improved nutrition or physical activity, and greater social connection". 

Discover more on the business case for Passivhaus in our cost benefits guides, and handy tips in our Passivhaus Social Housing guide.

Passivhaus Social Housing Guide: Business as usual is risky business

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Upskilling an industry

Scotland already has an outstanding training resource in existence at BE-ST (Built Environment – Smarter Transformation). BE-ST offers Scotland’s first national Passivhaus, retrofit and fabric first training programme and is on a mission to accelerate the built environment’s transition to zero carbon emissions. The Passivhaus Trust has a strategic partnership with BE-ST to support the delivery of its Passivhaus training.

Training event at BE-ST

BE-ST offers a range of training courses including its Low Carbon Learning programme, which provides Passivhaus, retrofit and fabric first training funded by Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland through the Transition Training Fund. The programme has supported 2500+ individuals through Passivhaus and retrofit training. 

The Trust believes regional training centres such as these, upskilling local industry & sharing best practice, are imperative to accelerate the built environment's transition to zero carbon emissions.

Event at BE-ST

Caitriona Jordan, Head of Retrofit at BE-ST, commented in response to the announcement of a Scottish equivalent to Passivhaus: “Although it presents a huge challenge for the sector, there is no shortage of ingenuity and capability in Scotland to be able to do this and the sector has proven it can rise to this scale of challenge. We can do this! It is possible to close the skills gap, train the workforce in Passivhaus and meet the needs for implementation of the new building regulations at scale.”

Approximately 30% of staff at Morrison Construction - Central have gone through the Passivhaus Tradeperson training. The company is also working proactively with its supply chain and has set up a test rig at BE-ST’s innovation centre as well as a group called Net Zero Partners to share quality processes needed on-site and encourage the supply chain to undertake the Passivhaus tradesperson course. 

A vast wealth of Passivhaus training opportunities exist for Scottish building professionals. Discover more about Passivhaus training & education, find an upcoming Passivhaus certified course in our event listings, or browse some online on-demand options. Are you currently studying? Head over to our student engagement page. Thoses studying architecture should have access to the Design Performance for Climate Action course.

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Passivhaus support


Climate Assembly

The Proposed Domestic Building Environmental Standards (Scotland) Bill forms was initially developed by Alex Rowley in response to the Scottish Climate Assembly’s 2021 Recommendations for Action, in which 97% of the Assembly voted in favour of the Passivhaus or Scottish equivalent standard for new build projects in Scotland.

Consultation

A consultation on the proposed Bill was undertaken during 2022 and the findings were summarised. In total, 629 responses to the Bill were received. The majority of all responses (over 90%) were supportive of the proposal. Of the 78 organisations that responded, 82% were supportive of the proposal and 17% were opposed.

Local authorities & housing associations

Lorraine Usher, Chief Executive, Loreburn Housing Association

 

City of Edinburgh Council has commenced the delivery of non-housing related projects to certified Passivhaus standards. The experience to date has been very positive with greater rigour being evidenced in the design process. Passivhaus not only addresses low energy solutions but equally critically ensures internal comfort conditions are delivered. In addition there is evidence that the standard has associated construction quality advantages. In light of this experience, to a large extent driven by the exacting technical standards and certification process,  consideration should be given to the adoption of the standard across new build housing.

Patrick Brown, Head of Sustainable Construction Delivery, City of Edinburgh Council 

Building professionals

Scotland is leading the world in its move towards a Scottish Passivhaus equivalent policy.  For schools, housing and social housing in particular, Passivhaus has a long track record of proven, significant societal and environmental benefits as well as reduced running costs and demands on national energy infrastructure. 

Dr Joel Callow, Founding Director, Beyond Carbon Associates

Our practice has been researching and developing ways to eliminate fuel poverty in social housing for over 30 years. The results we have observed and measured in the homes we have built to Passivhaus standard surpass any other measures which we have used to achieve the goal of reliably low bills. 

Matt Bridgestock, Director, John Gilbert Architects

Over the last 12 years of delivering Passivhaus around the UK, I’ve have seen the tangible benefits it brings, by focussing everyone – client, design team and contractor –  on the goal of ensuring the energy and comfort performance gap that otherwise exists in most new buildings is eliminated.

Jonathan Hines, Director, Architype

 

Scaling up

The Scottish construction industry is rising to the challenge of the Passivhaus standard and many projects are already completed or underway demonstrating Scotland’s ability to embrace the standard. In doing so, Scotland is joining other nations and regions around the world in the Passivhaus vanguard. For inspiration, Scotland can follow Vancouver’s example, where Passivhaus policies have meant construction is the only category on track to meet the city’s 2030 climate goals.

 

Matt Bridgestock, John Gillbert Architects Joel Callow - Beyond Carbon Associates Jonathan Hines, Architype

Matt Bridgestock 

Director, John Gilbert Architects

Dr Joel Callow

Founding Director, Beyond Carbon Associates

 Jonathan Hines

Director, Architype

"We have worked with enlightened teams to explore how we can build passivhaus homes robustly, efficiently & beautifully. Working with both social housing and private development budgets, we see Scottish supply chains and subcontractors are rapidly up-skilling, clients are looking for the assurance of quality and contractors across Scotland have developed processes to enable them to deliver."

"It is an exciting time to be designing and constructing buildings in Scotland, and we are anticipating a strong positive impact this leadership will have on the wider construction industry as we seek to tackle the climate crisis together.” 

                         

"I have been amazed by the can-do attitude of the industry in Scotland in response to the opportunity that Passivhaus offers. All the key players are embracing a paradigm culture shift in approach to design and construction. The result will be a new generation of ultra low energy buildings without a performance gap, placing Scotland well and truly at the forefront of sustainable delivery in the UK."

We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and construction industry to help accelerate change, overcome any obstacles there might be, and deliver the homes Scottish people deserve.

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Further information

Proposed Domestic Building Environmental Standards (Scotland) Bill

Passivhaus Social

Passivhaus benefits guide

Cost-effective Passivhaus

Zero Ambitions Podcast: Passive house doesn't have to cost more to build - with Dr Shane Colcough (UCD, Ulster University)

Scottish Housing News Podcast: Taking the Politics out of Passivhaus

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