Aus leads way on educational Passive House buildings Who will build NZ’s first PH childcare centre?

13 February 2023 by Jason Quinn

A private childcare centre operator in Canberra, Australia had the foresight more than five years ago to build facilities to Passive House standards. Her aim was to build the healthiest and most sustainable childcare centre in Australia. At time of certification Torrens Early Learning Centre was the only privately-owned Passive House educational facility in the world.

Photo: Torrens Early Learning Centre

Windows were carefully designed to distribute natural light into the classrooms while also shielding unwanted heat gain in summer. The mechanical ventilation system was proven during bushfires in January 2020, when Canberra had the dubious distinction of the worst air quality in the world. (Air quality index readings above 200 are considered hazardous; readings in Canberra peaked at 7700.)

The project featured in APHA’s book Passivhaus in Australia (pp78) and is listed on the PHI database.

The return on investment for this business is exceptionally good. The owner described the new building as world-class in its thermal efficiency, and therefore highly energy efficient. Her other buildings cost $15,000 a year in electricity, while Torrens costs only $36—mostly the grid-connection fees.

Needless to say, our team would be delighted to see educational providers in New Zealand follow suit. There would be multiple benefits for students and teachers just from better indoor air quality (even as we hope to never see outdoor air pollution readings like Canberra suffered in 2020).

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