The Glasgow House

The full case study is now available to download. 


Glasgow House exterior

Project lead
John Duncan, Glasgow Housing Association

Building type, sector and stage
Domestic, social housing, post construction and early occupation, Scotland

Thermal mass, sunspaces, MVHR, solar thermal, fabric first

9 months into a 12 month evaluation

Glasgow House in winter

The Glasgow House is a prototype house design that aims to use passive principles along with tried, tested, simple and low maintenance technologies to reduce heating and hot water bills for GHA tenants to £100 a year. The intention was to provide a very thermally efficient house that could be delivered on a large scale in housing development and regeneration projects throughout the city, and at the same time provide flexible affordable accommodation for both rent and sale.
These four houses were built in at the City Building Skills Academy, utilising trainee and apprentice construction workers, as demonstration houses. The houses were completed in September 2010.

Glasgow House interior

The design incorporated high levels of thermal efficiency thermally heavy block with external insulation, highly insulated roof cassettes and high performance windows, thermal mass, airtight construction, sunspaces, solar thermal hot water collectors, mechanical ventilation heat recovery, low energy lighting and high efficiency appliances. Due to uncertainties about the use of the clay block system, a decision was made to also construct two identical houses using a more conventional highly insulated timber frame system which is the standard form of construction used by GHA's partner organisation City Building.

This study has conducted a series of scenario tests using volunteer occupants, evaluating how the houses perform comparatively under varying seasons and occupancy profile. Fabric testing has established that the timber frame has improved thermal resistivity, and lower overall consumption, but there are less quantifiable benefits of the thermal mass in terms of thermal response and air quality. Examination of the performance of the active systems, including the MVHR and Solar Thermal has revealed some deficiencies. Running costs, although not meting the £100 a year are well within an affordable range for a house of this size and quality.

Glasgow House thermal

The study is not yet complete, but indications are that some areas of innovation, including the clay block construction and active systems would need to be refined before being implemented more widely. The study has also highlighted the potential effects of failures of systems such as MVHR in indoor air quality, underlining the need to effective design, installation and maintenance. Benefits of the sun-spaces have been identified, including improved amenity, ventilation buffering, solar pre-heat and reduced heat loss.