The first self-build in the Leeds area to be officially registered by the Passivhaus Institute is testament to the owner’s tenacity and attention to detail.

Stephen Cirell paid little attention to the efficiency of his home until his career led him into the energy sector. He began to realise that his draughty period house, which had no cavity wall and no double glazing, was losing a large percentage of its heat through the walls and windows.

“My work sparked an interest in the thermal performance of property and I realised that the only way of getting a truly energy-efficient house was to build my own using Passivhaus principles. Climate change was also a big driver and my aim was to use no fossil fuels,” says Stephen, an author and consultant on low carbon and renewable energy projects. Passivhaus is a building performance standard invented by the Germans. It is based on reducing heating demand to a very low level so that running costs and the effect on the environment are minimal.

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One of the guiding principles is “fabric first” construction. Supreme airtightness is a must as are triple-glazed windows and doors and the highest levels of insulation. Body heat, heat from cooking and showering are all utilised via a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system. The MHVR also ensures that stale air is exchanged for fresh, filtered air. However, getting full Passivhaus Institute certification is notoriously difficult because of stringent compliance tests. Stephen wasn’t deterred and thanks to his tenacity and attention to detail, he now has the first self-build in the Leeds area to be registered as a true Passivhaus. His cottage is also the 1,000th Passivhaus to be registered in the UK.

Read more: Yorkshire Post