Exeter's leading-edge leisure centre provided inspiration for UK Conference
Delegates touring St Sidwell’s Point passive house certified leisure centre at the 2022 UK Passivhaus Conference

Exeter's leading-edge leisure centre provided inspiration for UK Conference

This year’s UK Passivhaus Conference was held in Exeter, reflecting Exeter City Council’s record for developing buildings to the passive house standard over the last decade.

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This includes the new St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre and Edward’s Court extra care unit, as well as more than two hundred new council homes. St Sidwell’s Point is the UK’s first leisure centre built to the passive house standard and puts Exeter on the world map for passive house. The project was a central focus of the two-day conference, with a masterclass presented by members of the design and construction team as well as tours of the project, and Jessica Grove-Smith, from the Passive House Institute in Germany, speaking about passive house swimming pool design.

The conference also included largescale keynote case studies including Hounslow Council’s masterplan to build 967 homes to the passive house standard and Exeter University’s ambitious passive student accommodation plans. Addressing the cost-of-living crisis and fluctuating construction material costs, the conference also included a section on ‘how to deliver cost-effective passive house’. Ambitious plans for widescale passive house training of architecture students and others were also announced at the conference.

The conference attracted 200+ in-person delegates and over 250 online delegates in the ‘hybrid’ conference. Kier Construction, the main contractor on St Sidwell’s Point, was a Gold sponsor of the conference, which enabled public sector attendees to attend for free. Passivhaus Trust chief executive Jon Bootland said: “Following Exeter’s lead, passive house is gaining traction among local authorities and is being used to deliver comfortable and energy saving schools, social housing, leisure centres, and other buildings that avoid the ‘performance gap’. We were delighted to welcome a large number of public sector delegates to the conference.”

Passivhaus Trust research and policy director Sarah Lewis said: “St Sidwell’s Point is a fantastic beacon to the construction industry, illustrating that passive house can be applied to any building typology and can work for large and complex buildings. We take our hats off to the project team and to Exeter City Council for their vision in delivering the project. With energy bills soaring, passive house buildings, including leisure centres, make total sense.”

Phil Bialyk, Exeter City Council Leader, said: “Exeter has a very proud record of creating passive house buildings – and everything that has happened since we started on this journey has proved that the decision was the right one. We now have a leisure centre, extra care facility and scores of new council houses built to passive house standard, which means we are lowering our carbon emissions and saving energy at a time of rapidly rising fuel costs.” In addition to Kier Group’s Gold sponsorship, the conference received sponsorship from Silver sponsors Aldas, Ecology Building Society, Iso-quick and Passivhaus Homes, and Bronze sponsors Ecological Building Systems and Max Fordham.