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Passive House certified homes to rise at former Newbattle High

November 19 2021

Passive House certified homes to rise at former Newbattle High

Midlothian Council will deliver 134 affordable homes, including 98 designed to Passive House standards, at the former Newbattle High School in Dalkeith.

Detailed plans by Smith Scott Mullan Associates for the 4.7-hectare site show a range of accommodation for a mix of tenures that will reduce energy demand and address fuel poverty while aiding the authority's ambition to become carbon net-zero by 2030.

Delivering a mix of apartments and houses the development offers shared and public open spaces and a biodiverse SUDS pond with wildflower turf and native wetland planting. Cycling and pedestrian links will also plug into the wider green network around Newbattle Abbey.

The site will be developed in two phases beginning with the erection of 98 Passive House homes for social rent by Midlothian Council next year, to be followed by a further 36 affordable homes on behalf of a registered social landlord.

The project design team includes Hardies, Bayne Stevenson Associates, Aecom and Hawthorne Boyle.  

A future primary school is planned to the north
A future primary school is planned to the north
Homes will be delivered in two phases commencing next year
Homes will be delivered in two phases commencing next year


Sue Pearman
#1 Posted by Sue Pearman on 19 Nov 2021 at 12:03 PM
The elevations remind me of a Beagle.
Maybe a bit simpler would be better.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#2 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 19 Nov 2021 at 14:13 PM
Passive house you say ...

Would that be the Passive house spec that needs mechanical ventilation to stay habitable?

Interesting concept but I think it needs a bit more work to make it fully "passive" and fully usable in these post CoViD19 times.

Air leakage has its uses -- we have to breathe after all -- just a case that it needs to be managed.
Matt Bridgestock
#3 Posted by Matt Bridgestock on 19 Nov 2021 at 17:31 PM
Hi FBOT, I think you are making the fairly common mistake of confusing ventilation and airtightness. Ventilation is needed for all buildings, no matter how leaky, many leaky buildings suffer from poor ventilation and associated poor indoor air quality. Passivhaus has the benefit of a well installed ventilation system which provides good air quality when the windows are shut. The Passivhaus standard also mandates opening windows in houses so it can be used as normal and ventilated naturally if the occupant chooses.

There is extensive research and testing published by Glasgow School of Art MEARU Unit, Passivhaus Trust, BERE Architects and many others on this subject. We have also tested Passivhaus and non-passivhaus projects with a variety of ventilation systems and in line with the research above, found that the air quality is superior in passivhaus homes than naturally / DMEV ventilated buildings.

Also, good work Smith Scott Mullen!

#4 Posted by Bemused_Citizen on 19 Nov 2021 at 18:23 PM
@Matt Bridgestock

I'd love to read more about that research - any tips on where to look? Thanks.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#5 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 20 Nov 2021 at 10:46 AM
Ventilation -- no mistake made just comment about the concept of "passive" requiring active / mechanical ventilation to keep the internal space habitable when the windows / doors are shut.

Then you have the point of an Art School doing research into building technology -- some mistake surely?

Are architects stylists / designers / technically competent?

The language they use to describe their creations would suggest that most are stylists and consequently should leave the difficult stuff to others with a more complete engagement with engineering.

These people are not to be found in an art school.
#6 Posted by Stylecouncil on 20 Nov 2021 at 20:56 PM
Why is the architecture stuck in 1992?
For a firm that appear to be hoovering up a lot (all) of midlothian council work, you would think they might try harder.
Matt Bridgestock
#7 Posted by Matt Bridgestock on 22 Nov 2021 at 13:19 PM
Hi #4 some links to studies:
MEARU research work - -

MEARU / JGA research work on indoor air quality of homes along with other associated published research -

Passivhaus trust - The case for MVHR -

Bere Architects Research -

Scottish Building Stds research including ventilation / airtightness studies -

HEMAC network of practitioners and academics looking at the effects of airtight housing -

I hope that provides interesting reading.
#8 Posted by Jarek on 23 Nov 2021 at 09:38 AM
In domestic HVHR unit employed for heat recovery ventilation the "used" air never meets "fresh" air. There is no additional covid risk. The "used" air is continuously extracted from the building. The building has far better air quality as a result. The system also provides free heat. What's not to like?
The is so much evidence out there (thousands of precedents, residents experience, science, 25 years of use of the system etc.), that discussing it is a bit like questioning whether 2+2 is 4.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#9 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 23 Nov 2021 at 11:54 AM
It is all about language.
Passive hoose / haus -- aye right.

The need for mechanical ventilation rather spoils the vibe.

Plus it needs energy and servicing effort to keep it working -- file under needing a bit of development.

Some chimney thinking needed -- pun intended.
Fair Trade Charlie
#10 Posted by Fair Trade Charlie on 24 Nov 2021 at 09:23 AM
Unfortunately, the gains made by the dwellings achieving such a high standard, and therefore Midlothian's net-zero ambitions, are undermined by transport planning. Wasted opportunity, especially as such high levels of car storage will never be utilised in affordable housing where access to a private car (not even ownership) typically doesn't exceed 25%.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#11 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 24 Nov 2021 at 17:41 PM
The Anti Destination League strikes again.

1930's social housing struggles to cope with modern levels of car ownership -- parking on the street can be a struggle and in all to many cases driveways are difficult to install.

Today's affordable housing has to take car use / access / ownership into account or are we just condemning today's children to follow a similar path to their parents?

Personal transportation is an aspiration to those who don't have it through a lack of resources -- it might not suit a certain tree hugging mindset but the desire is there.

Plus the future is electric so the pollution argument is now dying a slow death.

And please don't mention brake dust or tyre fragments -- if tyres have to go then so does shoes and bikes plus humans who shed skin at an alarming rate.
#12 Posted by cmcc on 26 Nov 2021 at 12:12 PM
FBoT, I think the definition of "passive" has flown over your head. Passive is not used to describe the inactivitvity of the building, it is to describe the passive nature of energy consumption. An entirely self contained entity.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#13 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 26 Nov 2021 at 15:26 PM
CMCC @ 12.12

I fear you cannot see the wood from the trees.

To be liveable / live up to its name -- a "passiv" hoose / haus needs an active ventilation system to be in operation.

Either the house needs external power to drive the active ventilation / heat recovery system or it needs an external source to heat the house. Neither of these scenarios deliver the passive outcome that is being desired.

Plus you have the ventilation angle of a house needing to meet a very challenging level of air leakage -- another reason for the active ventilation system.

What happens if there is a power cut -- you would have to open a window.

What happens if you have to open a window in the winter -- you will need some form of heating.

The concept needs work -- it is only 80% complete.

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