Our story


How we arrived at Passivhaus

My background begins with a humble computer studies degree, which offers surprising relevance to construction in designing and implementation of solutions to problems.

However, having spent a few years as a systems analyst, I decided the office life wasn't for me, and I headed for a year of travelling round the world, arriving in San Francisco at the tail end of my trip. Being from an Irish background I had some connections in the city's surprisingly large Irish community, resulting in getting gainful employment in the local building trade. I started at the bottom and found, after much hard work and blood-letting, that I thoroughly enjoyed both the processes and huge sense of satisfaction in homebuilding.


"My time in San Francisco triggered a desire to build to a premium level, both in design terms and quality of finish. I found that enjoying the process of building and caring about the finished product really helps in terms of one's ability to learn and progress".


Meeting a number of experienced and passionate people in San Francisco sparked my interest in energy-efficient homes. My desire to become my own expert in the build of high-quality homes resulted in discovering vast amounts of information on the alarming levels of energy waste of the standard home resulting directly from poor design.

'Passivhaus' standard as the touchstone

From here I discovered the German 'Passivhaus' standard. At first this appeared to be a simple set of criteria which, if followed, would result in a comfortable, cheap-to-run, healthy home. But, as so often happens, this requires an extensive analysis of the design to ensure it can meet the 'simple' criteria to achieve the correct outcome.

Battsbridge cottage

I still see the 'Passivhaus' standard as the touchstone for a cohesive approach which incorporates years of actual project monitoring to develop the Passivhaus Planning Package. Even though this allows a great flexibilty in the building method, it can be restrictive in terms of materials and products which have yet to attain their full certification, and the additional costs this can imply.

We used many of these principles in the chapel conversion and learned huge amounts about where problems will arise and how to anticipate and deal with them.

I have been lucky to have worked on many and varied projects in the Bay area, but decided that the USA wasn't the place to live long-term. Via a stop-off in Ireland we arrived in Sussex in January 2007, and purchased an old run down 1950s bungalow with a view to developing the lovely large plot.

This project, the Knoll development, was our first attempt to use our timber-framing expertise and Passivhaus principles in a new-build project. We decided that to achieve full certification would increase costs too much to be viable, so again we used the principles as our core values. The result of this was to build what I have called the '95% Passivhaus'.


'Today we continue to employ both the Passivhaus ethos and our own experience to build beautiful, design-rich, energy efficient homes.'

Case studies


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