Max Fordham House

Tim Crocker


Max Fordham







Designed and built in collaboration with Max, bere:architects, Price & Myers and Bow Tie Construction, this three-bedroom Passivhaus home is an exemplar of collaboration, innovation and solution-focused design. Set in a tight, urban infill site, previously Max’s garden, the project shows what is possible and achievable as a technical concept for the housing sector. Following completion, it became the first home in the UK to achieve net zero carbon, in line with the UKGBC's Framework.

The building’s thermal envelope, its ventilation system and its windows are designed so that the heat loss on a freezing cold winter’s day is no more than the heat generated by people living in the house.

The high-performance thermal envelope completely wraps the building’s structure, eliminating thermal bridges. The envelope is also airtight, eliminating uncontrolled air exchange.

As well as providing beautiful daylight, windows allow solar radiation to warm the house. Automated, insulated shutters allow the windows to become much more insulating at night so that they are thermally a net benefit every day. The windows and their positions are designed so that electrical lights are not needed during the day.

Domestic hot water is the house’s largest energy demand. Heat pump technology aligns well with the continuing decarbonisation of the national electricity grid.

The heatpump’s air-side heat exchanger is located within a suntrap and is controlled so that 24hours worth of domestic hot water demand is produced during mid-afternoon, when air temperature is warmest and the heatpump most efficient. This is also when the roof PV array is likely to be at its most productive

The house demonstrates many elements of design required to achieve the ultra-low operational energy performance that net zero carbon compatible buildings should aspire to. Although the materials used in the house were carefully considered a full life cycle assessment (LCA) was not undertaken during the design process and the embodied carbon of both construction and the residual carbon emissions of the house would now need to be offset to allow verification of the house project as Net Zero Carbon.

First year measured energy performance indicates that the house’s Energy Use Intensity (EUI, the measure of total energy kWh consumed per m² of building area per year) measured against its GIA and excluding the energy generated by its PV panels is 38kWh/m².year. However, this also includes the initial warm up of the building fabric so it may reduce slightly in future years. If including PV panel generation, the net total energy consumption of the house is 16kWh/m².year.

Project Team

Architect bere:architects

Environmental Engineer Max Fordham

Passivhaus Consultant Max Fordham

Structural Engineer Price & Myers

Quantity Surveyor E-Griffin

Contractor Bow Tie Construction

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