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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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.


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.


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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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


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