Momentum gathering on multi-occupancy Passive House projects

20 February 2023 by Jason Quinn

Architype in Dunedin has notched up another Passive House win, with successful certification of the country’s first social housing units. Our case study notes the challenges that were met with regard to budget and design time and how the designers drew on what they’d learned working on Toiroa High Street, Dunedin’s cohousing development and first multi-occupancy Passive House project in New Zealand.

I understand Dunedin City Council (DCC) is planning to build more community housing units using a similar high-performance recipe but without PHPP modelling or PH certification. I offer this free cautionary advice to DCC’s property managers: Passive House is not a cookie cutter solution. Each site will likely vary with regard to orientation and shading and that will impact thermal performance. Overheating is a real risk to be managed and ever more important as the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events increase. Thermal modelling at design stage is vital.

The Architype team is hard at work on other multi-occupancy projects targeting Passive House certification. There’s a second large student accommodation project in Dunedin heading into consent at time of writing (the first having achieved Passive House certification in December 2022) and six more units being planned in Wellington.

This team has cut its teeth in Dunedin’s robust climate and its designers are noticing how much more margin they have as their projects move further north. You can get away with a lot in Auckland that would never work for a certified Passive House building in Dunedin.

There are multi-occupancy buildings in the pipeline from other Passive House designers in Auckland and townhouses in Christchurch, for which Sustainable Engineering will act as certifier. Our team is also carrying out Passive House design for a private developer in Auckland, who is building a three-story walk-up apartment building, notable for its use of ICF.


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