Find a Passive House Project

Please find here details of Passive House projects, under construction and already built, in Aotearoa New Zealand. New projects are being added to this page all the time.

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In 2013 the Urban Co-housing Otepoti was formed, and over a six-year period, the group developed and refined their ideas and requirements into an economically viable, energy efficient co-housing development project. The group now known as Toiora High Street CoHousing Community purchased a 5,000 sqm site that was the former High Street Primary School and in November 2018, eHaus Otago commenced construction. The project is New Zealand’s first certified passive house co-housing development. Tim Ross of Architype was the lead Architect and also one of the home owners. He and his team have done an amazing job creating a total of 21 passive house homes, ranging in size from two bedroom to large five-bedroom homes, each with their own private outdoor area. The central eHaus team worked closely with Architype from the outset to ensure that the design met the Passive House standard and also the budget expectations. Credit also to Stevenson & Williams the locally trained and appointed eHaus Otago team that built the homes.  In addition to the 21 Passive Houses, part of the former school buildings were modified to accommodate a large communal community centre which includes dining area, offices and meeting rooms. Passive House Classic Certification was awarded in two parts; the first consisting of 6 homes in a single terraced row referred to as Alva Street. The second a multi level development of 15 units referred to as High Street. A sincere thank you to all that were involved in making this fantastic project a reality.

Photo Credit: Andy Spain ©


Inspiration for the conceptual design of the Hawea Flat Passivhaus came from the RIBA award-winning Cat Hill Barn in South Yorkshire, UK.  This sixteenth century, agricultural stone-built barn was sensitively converted into a residence featuring a large double height glass wall to the front, small windows utilising existing openings and feature trusses within a central open vaulted area.

The clients had a love of natural materials and were excited by the opportunity of using German oak for the frame, so it was decided to extend the use of exposed timbers throughout the building. The central open heart of the building features a cathedral like appearance with floating staircase and fink trusses, with the lines of the struts flowing continuously down into the double-height posts. These curved struts also reference 54 curved knee braces joining posts and beams throughout the building.

The frame design is English in style including trusses, a wall plate and supporting posts with a ridge beam and exposed underpurlins in the roof.  Exposed floor beams and joists and a gallery walkway at the back of the grand open vaulted entrance/living area complete the frame design and SIPs (structural insulated panels) wrap around the outside.

The use of Siberian larch 3D profile pre-stained cladding, solid oak flooring, New Zealand made triple glazed windows and doors, mechanical ventilation, shower waste water heat recovery and a large solar PV system with Tesla Powerwall 2 were specified as part of the design of this, New Zealand’s first Passive House Premium building.

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The existing construction is plastered concrete blockwork walls on a concrete slab with a suspended concrete mid-floor (including mid-level concrete terraces), aluminium single-glazed window joinery and a membrane roof. Being on an exposed, west facing site the house over heated in the summer and was too cold and draughty in the winter. The renovation will be within the existing building footprint.

The building envelope was upgraded with an external insulated plaster system on blockwork, a warm membrane roof and high performance Passive House certified timber-aluminium joinery with high performance double-glazed low-E low G-value (high shading coefficient) glass. High performance double glazed joinery was chosen with an interior insulating timber frame and an aluminium exterior face for weather protection and to reduce maintenance.

The double glazed joinery, wall, roof, and floor components have a high level of airtightness.

The Blower Door Test measured airtightness of 1.0 air change per hour, which meets the EnerPHit requirements.  Conventional building code house is approx. 5.0 air change per hour.

Ventilation is controlled through the use of a mechanical heat recovery ventilation system. This will ensure excellent indoor air quality and control the internal temperature, humidity and comfort level of the occupants.

Particular attention was paid to remedying or reducing the effect of the thermal bridges in the existing structure including concrete terraces over internal habitable spaces, the concrete floor slab and cantilevered steel and timber roof structure. A thermal bridge is like a heat super highway that creates an easy path for energy to escape from the warm interior to colder exterior.


The Fairfield Construction team has spent many months planning, designing and building their new office in Marlborough. It is the first commercial building in the South Island and also the first building in Marlborough to gain Passive House Institute certification as a Low Energy Building.

The office was designed by local architect Keryn Thompson from KLT Architect, and together with Sustainable Engineering have made the dream reality to build an interesting, innovative office/showroom that pushes the boundaries of efficiency and sustainability.

The Low Energy Building certification means that the building will be about 7 times more efficient than standard building code. Running costs will be minimised and air quality improved, thus creating an amazing atmosphere for living & working in. See the link to more info about the benefits of building to Passive House Institute certifications.

Achieving the exceptionally energy efficiency targets set out in the Low Energy Building certification is inherently difficult for a small building due to the ratio of internal volume to external surface area. The blower door result was an excellent accomplishment—0.68 ACH is only fractionally over the upper limit for Passive House certification.

The structural insulated panels (SIP) on the ceiling have been left exposed and the ducting for the mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system is also visible. The builders can show, not just tell how Low Energy Building systems work: MVHR, wall insulation, reducing timber fractions and avoiding thermal bridges.

The office also has its own Rainwater Retention system and Outdoor Hot Water Heat Pump, waiting to heat the building’s water all of which is collected from its roof before being filtered and sent to the taps, shower and toilet.

The energy to power the building is captured by PV panels on the roof, basking in the Marlborough sun.

The office is complimented with environmentally friendly products that have been incorporated into the building, including recycled Rimu wall lining and benchtop, Natural Paint Co., and Noho chairs just to name a few.

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Lower Saddle House settles into a north-west facing grassy saddle in the rural settlement of Tahekeroa, with expansive views across the Makarau River valley. The surrounding area consists of weathered rural infrastructure, traditional villas, and a growing number of new homes, all embedded into a mixture of pasture, pine wood and native bush. Taking precedence from its rural context, and the owners love of the simple robustness of back country huts, Lower Saddle sits comfortably into it’s surroundings like it was always there – belying the high-performance nature of the project. The exposed site is both baked by the sun and battered by rain and winds, so the proposal had to respond to a range of environmental factors to ensure durability, performance, and habitability. The response included careful orientation to both the view, the sun & the prevailing wind, positioning of openings, north & western overhangs and exterior shading.

Cost was the key constraint. As first-time buyers with a small deposit, prioritising and compromising were key approaches to make the project achievable. An ‘envelope first’ strategy was decided on, with an interior that could be gradually completed by the family, as a family, once in. Through this approach the project achieved a m2 rate of $2590/m2 + GST and was delivered only $2600 over budget. Initially a single storey home, it was designed to be extended into the roof space. To get funding in place however, the additional first floor accommodation had to be included in the project to achieve the as-complete value vs construction cost, while not increasing the build cost substantially – a challenging exercise and negotiation with the contractor!

The project was a result of an architect tired of watching his kids get ill and deciding to put his (minimal!) money where his mouth is, to prove that high performing, healthy homes can be achieved at standard budgets, while still being beautiful places to live. What resulted is an unpretentious, Passive House Certified home that blends into its rural context, while keeping its inhabitants warm, dry and healthy year-round. The project achieved excellent embodied and operation carbon results, and since the family has moved in has absolutely ‘performed as designed’ with energy bills of $100-$130/month while maintaining comfortable temperatures year-round with no active heating or cooling, and the children’s respiratory issues have disappeared.

To minimise thermal bridging and embodied carbon, steel and concrete were out! SIPs were chosen for their thermal and airtight qualities, with prefabrication reducing waste and construction time. Due to the sloping site a suspended timber floor with sheep’s wool insulation was chosen over a carbon-hungry concrete slab. Painted plywood cladding and metal roofing were selected externally, with a scoria red finish reminiscent of tramping huts and embodying the local rural vernacular. Internally the SIPs were painted opposed to lining them, reducing trades & cost. Plywood linings were selected for interior walls – lower carbon than GIB, and easier to sand children’s drawings off! A plywood kitchen, cast concrete sink & counter and copper splashbacks all made by the client gradually gain a patina and develop with the family, native Totara trims frame the triple glazed timber/ aluminium joinery, and bright doors provide splashes of colour. Economical, robust and beautiful.

Lower Saddle House

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Our client, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, is New Zealand’s largest residential landlord, providing homes to around 200,000 customers and maintaining around 68,000 public houses, while also providing home ownership products and other services. The organisation’s focus is on prioritising the wellbeing of its customers and delivering good quality, warm, dry, and healthy homes.

In 2021, Kāinga Ora asked us to be involved in a research and development pilot programme to change the future of sustainable residential development. The organisation’s ambition was to understand what high-performance; low-carbon social housing would look like using typical New Zealand materials and building systems.

We designed five almost identical apartment buildings, each from a different structural system: steel, concrete, light frame timber, mass/cross-laminated timber, and a hybrid combination of light and mass timber.

Sustainability and lifecycle carbon mitigation were at the forefront from the programme’s inception, along with aspirations for each building to achieve Passive House certification, a 9 Homestar rating and be net-zero energy. For Kāinga Ora customers, living in a Passive House means more affordable heating, fresh indoor air quality, and comfortable and healthy temperatures year-round. Environmentally, it means delivering high-performing homes with significantly reduced operational carbon emissions.

This flythrough video shows a 3D representation of the site highlighting the five different building materials, sustainability initiatives, and biodiversity aspects that make up the project.

Ngā Kāinga Anamata was gifted its te reo Māori name, which aptly means ‘Homes of the Future.’ The data and learnings from this programme will influence and catalyse system transformation in the construction industry for years to come.

Construction on the project will begin this year as a proof of concept for how New Zealand can build low-carbon homes at scale.

Ngā Kāinga Anamata was recently featured at the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion Build Better Now – one of only 17 exemplary sustainable projects selected from around the world for the virtual reality (VR) online pavilion. You can find out more by visiting



A 400sqm multi purpose community centre in Luggate, 12km south of Wanaka. The centre replaces a 1950s earthquake prone building.

This project comprises a large multi-use hall, a flexible meeting space, entry foyer and a commercial kitchen and was commissioned by QLDC for the community, as a showcase for low-energy, sustainable design. The design team was made up of local consultants from WSP, Salmond Architecture, Hiberna, Holmes Fire and Plot Landscape. The project was managed by The Building Intelligence Group and the airtightness consultant was See Change.

The hall volume was carefully designed for acoustics to match as near as possible the demolished hall volume which was known for its good acoustics. This meant a high ceiling and large air volume. As the hall might at times be occupied by a dozen people and sometimes more than 200, this presented some challenges for the design of an efficient ventilation system in keeping with the Passive House requirements. The commercial kitchen also presented some challenges due to the high extract air volumes required for building code compliance, plus the need for precisely balanced air flowrates and heat recovery with separated air flows.

The hall was to be delivered on a strictly controlled council budget managed by Rider Levett Bucknall cost consultants. The design team chose to make the design as simple as possible to reduce complexity and cost. Prefabricated timber framed wall and roof panels by Hector Egger were chosen by the client as a local, low carbon, cost effective, sustainable construction solution. Timber framed triple glazed windows were a critical part of the Passive House design.

Summer time temperatures in Luggate sometimes exceed 30 degrees C and these conditions will sometimes coincide with peak occupancy. The design includes moveable solar shading in order to reduce the cooling load.

Supply chain issues caused by COVID-19 caused some delays and cost and sourcing implications but the contractor, Breen, rose to the challenge and have meticulously delivered the Passive House requirements to date. Certification is pending practical completion, final blower door test and ventilation commissioning.

The centre is due for completion in October 2022.

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Originally meant to be a high-performance home, the design was upgraded to meet passive house standards. With building commencing in late 2019, the build has seen every moment of the Covid-19 pandemic, and all the challenges that came with it.

The house has been designed to be healthy, quiet, energy efficient, and nearly self-sufficient. Like a commercial building, there is a services room that houses the ventilation units, water treatment, hot water cylinder, lift machinery, networking, and switchboard.

Although grid tied and connected to town water, the house has a generous PV solar array, house battery, and rainwater tanks. The aim is to be mostly self-sufficient barring the gloomier and drier months. With energy efficiency, the aim is to get more out of every watt of power. Hot water, swim spa, and air conditioning are all serviced by high COP heat pumps – giving 4W of heat for every 1W of power input.

Rainwater passes through sediment and carbon filters, before being UV treated. The air is constantly refreshed and filtered by the Zehnder heat recovery ventilation units

The top two floors are clad with Abodo NZ pine weatherboards, coated with Sioo:x, and the bottom floor in dark schist called ‘Piha Black”.  The Sioo:x coating gives a weathered look, while protecting the wood for up to 10 years.

The basement structure is insulated concrete form, and the upper floors are 140mm timber framing with a 45mm services cavity, providing two layers of insulation, and minimising thermal bridging.

Flooring on the second level was machined from the rimu weatherboards of the original 1950’s house that was on the section. NZ wool carpet on the top level over an aerated concrete Hebel subfloor means very little sound transmission between floors. The lift ensures there is accessibility to all floors.

Key Features

  • Aiming for Passive House Plus standard
  • Recycled Rimu timber flooring
  • Neuffer Aluclad triple glazed timber windows
  • Izodom insulated concrete form basement and slabs
  • Abodo timber cladding and decking
  • 44,000L rainwater capacity
  • 16.4kW solar array with 40.5kWh battery storage
  • Three Zehnder MVHR units (2 in the house, 1 in the adjacent pool room)
  • Reclaim CO2 hot water heat pump with a hot water ring main

A small, complex footprint and raked ceilings created some challenges for certification of this ADNZ Regional Award-winning project in Wānaka. The experienced builder was key to the success of the project, achieving Passive House levels of airtightness. A highly-insulated ceiling helps to compensate for heat losses through the walls, which are 140mm stud with a 45mm insulated service cavity.

The brief was for a compact forever home. The design makes best use of the site, sun and views while creating an outdoor area sheltered from the strong prevailing winds and hot summer sun for outdoor living and food growing. To ensure the home is accessible, the garage and visitor parking were positioned to provide vehicle access to the raised site, with a ramp providing step-free access from there to the house.

Deep eaves shade the north windows and north-west veranda, and an external blind shades the west-facing bedroom window whilst retaining the lake and mountain views. High-performing windows with low-e triple-glazing from Thermadura both control solar gain and retain heat, helping to eliminate overheating risk. The slab and footings are fully-insulated with timber flooring laid directly over the concrete slab. The thermal mass of the concrete slab helps to regulate internal temperatures in the shoulder seasons when daytime temperatures can soar, but night-time temperatures are still low.

The judges for the Regional ADNZ Resene Kaitiakitanga Award described the home as “an exemplar in aesthetics and sustainability leadership.”

(Photo credit: Mickey Ross Photography)

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