Lee home in Cockle Bay is outstanding but it’s not a certified Passive House yet Dear Stuff: We’ll let you know once it’s certified

16 February 2024 by Jason Quinn

The Lee family home in Auckland—all 660m2 of it—is indeed newsworthy but it is unfortunate that Stuff has twice jumped the gun (here and here) by describing it as a certified Passive House building. It isn’t, yet. Sustainable Engineering Ltd is the Passive House certifier on this project and we’re not aware of any road blocks to it achieving its goal. But the correct way to describe it currently is targeting Passive House certification. 

Also do note the house is connected to the electricity grid, while also generating its own power. It’s a perfect marriage with Passive House performance because heating demand is so reduced in winter, when PV is generating the least energy. It’s also when Aotearoa’s grid is at greatest capacity and we are most likely to be burning fossil fuels to meet demand.

VIA Architecture undertook the Passive House design for this project—not a small job. Indoor-outdoor flow was high on the client’s want list and it amounts to a LOT of potential openings in the building envelope in good weather. The design took this into account from the outset. It’s noteworthy that the clients were happy with a recirculating kitchen exhaust hood, which means no need for make-up air.

Of course the benefit of an efficient building envelope and appropriately sized mechanical ventilation (yes, TWO units were required given the size of this house and they are the largest models available), fresh air can be enjoyed at all times, not only when the weather is just right and doors and windows are open. An additional benefit is acoustic privacy from neighbors.

We’ll be delighted to receive all the documentation and start the review process for Passive House certification. This independent assessment confirms that the building was constructed as set out in the plans; no product substitutions, no changes to details, everything installed in its right place. 

Passive House certifiers don’t do site inspections like council consenting officials. Rather we comb through invoices, commissioning documents, statements, photographs and even video. It’s essential that the construction team document their work by taking photographs as they go, to illustrate all their hard work before it is sealed up behind wall and ceiling linings. With committed, experienced Passive House builders leading the work on this project, we are not expecting problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *