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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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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