First Social Housing Passivhaus Flats

The first social housing flats in the UK to be built to PassivHaus standards have had the help of leading specialists in heat recovery ventilation and air source heat pumps, Total Home Environment.

The three flats making up Rowan House in Sivell Place, Exeter, have designed out the need for a conventional heating system through the use of the PassivHaus design standards incorporating Total Home Environment’s recently PassiveHaus certified Genvex GES Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery Unit.

The GES Energy unit not only provides the flats’ ventilation but also, during extremely cold conditions, provides the minimal heating requirements. This is provided by Total Home Environment’s self-regulating inline electric duct heater all controlled by the integrated control panel within the unit. This integration ensures the systems are never fighting each other maximising energy efficiency.

The 10 stage 7 days per week controller has been set up to optimise user comfort by automatically adjusting the airflows throughout the day whilst constantly monitoring the desired temperature to within 0.1 of a degree. When required the system automatically adds extra heat or indeed automatically bypasses the heat recovery matrix to help cool the flats during the summer months. The built-in data logger provides over two years’ worth of temperature data (room, intake, exhaust, supply, extraction, fans speeds, summer bypass, call for heat and more). This was an important factor for Exeter City Council, who manage the flats.

The GES Energy mechanical ventilation heat recovery unit is designed to ventilate domestic properties up to 200m².

Heat recovery ventilation is now the accepted form of mechanical ventilation required to not only meet building regulations, but to also contribute to achieving the current level of the Code for Sustainable Homes and essential for PassiveHaus projects.

The flats will be for people over the age of 55 paying social rent, with priority for those downsizing from larger homes. Partly funded by a grant of £195,000 from the Homes and Community Agency, Rowan House has been built to meet very high sustainable standards. A further 18 PassivHaus homes will be constructed in Exeter and the project is one of more than 50 PassivHaus schemes underway in the UK.

Rowan House is Exeter’s first new council home to be built in more than 20 years. Exeter based Architects Gale & Snowden designed the new houses and as architects, PassivHaus designers and mechanical engineers, were pleased to work with Exeter City Council to design and deliver some of the first PassivHaus social housing flats in the UK.

Further information and technical advice on the range of heat recovery units from Total Home Environment is available on 0845 260 0123, email or by visiting the company’s website at

There are currently no comments for this article.

Login to comment. slider