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Young family’s super-efficient home in Co Down lands House of Year award

Concept behind Windmill House produces reduced energy bills, cleaner air and more comfortable temperatures

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Windmill House near Hillsborough

Windmill House near Hillsborough

Windmill House near Hillsborough

A super-efficient environmentally friendly house nestled in the Co Down countryside has been named House of the Year in the 2021 Building and Architect of the Year Awards.

Windmill House near Hillsborough is home to a young family and was designed by Antrim-based architects Marshall McCann. They worked in consultation with Dungannon-based consultants GP Developments to incorporate the principles of the ‘Passive House’ concept from Germany.

It means the house adheres to high voluntary standards for energy efficiency and vastly reduces energy consumption.

The house was completed last year and requires little space for heating or cooling.

Experts said passive housing reduces energy bills, provides cleaner air and more comfortable temperatures in the home.

This is achieved through air-tightness, eliminating thermal bridges in construction which are susceptible to conducting and losing heat and installing triple-glazed windows.

GP Developments also installed a heat recovery ventilation system containing an integrated heat pump which serves the hot water to five shower rooms and bathrooms within the house.

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Windmill House interior

Windmill House interior

Windmill House interior

The ventilation system doesn’t adhere to all the standards of passive housing but is frequently used in residential developments around Ireland.

Windmill House is an all-electric home and has partly offset its energy consumption through measures such as solar power system, a complete power-generating unit, and battery storage. This supplies energy to two car chargers.

The house also has smart home technology with all electrical outlets wired individually to give a tailored experience to the homeowners.

Marshall McCann architect Roisin McCann founded the practice with her brother Martin Marshall, both of whom designed and live in their own Passive House.

Mrs McCann said they were approached by a client to create an idea for a development house for resale. This combination of requirements are almost unheard of for that purpose, she said.

“It was to be exceptional, built to a high specification and designed with efficiency in mind; thermally, economically and on-time. The house also needed to be beautiful and contemporary, with a simple aesthetic,” she said.

“The design of the house took inspiration from farm buildings in the vicinity, with a solid-wall construction, Standing Seam aluminium cladding, atop a painted plinth; creating an elegant aesthetic.”

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Windmill House

Windmill House

Windmill House

Passive House Designer and owner of GP Developments Garrett Quinn said he was “delighted” the house has won the award. “As principal coordinator of this project I am so proud to see a young family move into Windmill House; knowing that their children will benefit enormously from the exceptional internal air quality is so rewarding,” he said.

“Passive House should be the norm and available to all, elevating people out of fuel poverty. Along with our partner companies, we have published several research papers, outlining how not just the homeowner, but central government can benefit the most.”

Improving the home environment will contribute to a better public health standard through less reliance on the NHS as well as reducing fuel costs and leaving homeowners with more money to spend, he said. “Not to mention the environmental benefits for our children’s future,” he added.


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