Erne Campus – the world’s largest PassivHaus Premium building

PassivHaus has been around for a while as a building standard, but its principles are organised around energy conservation and comfort rather than carbon emissions. PassivHaus Premium has emerged as a more rigorous standard for those aiming for genuine net zero buildings. And the world’s largest PassivHaus Premium building was recently announced as the ‘project of the year’ at the annual RICS awards – Erne Campus, South West College in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

Their previous building was put up in 1971. It had a D rating for efficiency and consumed 100,000 litres of heating oil every year. The new building cuts its carbon emissions by 90%. It’s the first educational building in the world to acheive PassivHaus premium standard, and the first such building in the UK.

Like any PassivHaus project, the college building has a thermal envelope and pays careful attention to heat gains and heat losses. It’s airtight to reduce heat loss through ventilation, and uses heat exchangers to recover warmth from outgoing air. A vast solar array on the roof generates four times more power over the course of the year than the building uses, and 460kwh of battery storage means they get to use as much as possible of that energy on site.

The building is oriented towards the south, with careful consideration given to passive solar heating through its triple-glazed glass frontage – but without overheating in the summer. The 15 metre high atrium across the front of the building provides natural light to all levels, and serves as a ‘winter garden’ during colder months.

Inside, 2,800 students at the further education college pursue practical studies in purpose-built hair and beauty salons, professional kitchens, science laboratories or the sports centre.

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