St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

19 May

Homes for the Future

Sat 19 May 2018 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Phil Bixby
Phil Bixby's retrofit design

Please book to see the PRIVATE homes by Friday 18th May lunchtime in order to receive the list of addresses and directions. You will only have access to the council’s Eco Depot without booking.


  • The Eco Depot will have the i-Travel team present with sustainable travel advice and info materials, plus displays by the council’s Waste team and One Planet York.
  • Bookings for the cycle ride have closed because we’re at maximum safe capacity. You can try coming along to St Nicks on the day in case there are any cancellations. Alternatively, please register for the Homes for the Future event and make your own way around the homes. You will receive a map and details if you book by Friday lunchtime.

“Be home and dry” is a popular expression denoting success; yet a lot of UK houses do not succeed in keeping dry and being good and healthy homes. There are many ways to address the issue and its associated problems, which range from unaffordable bills in poorly insulated houses to respiratory diseases caused by moulds attracted to excess moisture in cold homes. This event gives you an opportunity to see examples of what homes of the future could look like and how old houses can be brought up to date.

Come and explore a selection of buildings which combine different building design techniques to achieve healthy homes and offices that don’t cost the Earth to run – in either monetary or carbon emission terms. Use the unique opportunity to visit one or all of the following:

  1. Three Passivhauses – designed to use very little energy, each with its own unique features.
    See more information below and book via Eventbrite – essential so that you receive addresses and more visiting details.
  2. An eco-retrofitted house of local architect Phil Bixby who designed the Passivhauses
    See more information below and book via Eventbrite – essential so that you receive addresses and more visiting details.
  3. Eco Depot in 2007York Eco Depot (at Hazel Court YO10 3DS): the home of City of York Council’s industrial teams whose office building is one of the largest straw bale buildings in Europe. It is made with a timber frame and ModCell® Straw  Panels, and incorporates renewable energy and rain water harvesting amongst other sustainable features.
    No need to book ahead. Please note this is a unique opportunity as the Depot is not normally open to casual visitors.
  4. Would you like to see them all, in the company of St Nicks Outreach Officer to guide you along, and to share One Planet Living tips with others? Come on our cycle ride! Starting promptly at 2pm from St Nicks Environment Centre – after the Low Carbon Lunch – we’ll cycle around 5 miles in between destinations on quiet roads or cycle paths where possible.
    Please book ahead via Eventbrite.
  5. Would you like to start the day with a delicious Low Carbon Lunch? Visit the link for more details.

Free entry, donations to St Nicks welcome. Please help spread the word by downloading the event poster as a jpg (high resolution PDF version here) and displaying it in a public or work place.


The following are kindly opening their doors to visitors as part of our annual York Open Eco Homes project. Please respect the privacy of the home owners and only visit in the given time slot of 2-5pm on Saturday 19th.

Passivhaus in Fulford under constructionj

Passivhaus in Fulford under construction

Passivhaus from a kit (Fulford) – with Lifetime Homes features

This 2-bed house, built in 2017, is extremely well insulated with the entire south facing roof slope covered in solar panels but most importantly it’s a Passivhaus with a sealed building envelope with fresh air pre-warmed through a heat exchanger. The house is also designed, by local architect Phil Bixby, to be adaptable to the occupiers’ changing needs as they grow older – for instance a storage room on the ground floor will be easy to turn into an easy access bathroom later on because it has plumbing hidden within. The owners survived the Beast from the East without central heating but just the occasional  extra jumper. And the triple glazed full height windows on to the garden are wonderful now spring is here!


Passivhaus under construction

Fulford Passivhaus in 2015

Passivhaus Plus (Fulford) – making more energy than it needs

The “oldest” Passivhaus on our list whose owners started the self-build in spring 2014 and moved in in summer 2015 so they have several years’ worth of experience of living in the house to share. Designed by local architect Phil Bixby, the owners wanted to build a house for a cost that is comparable to a “normal” house. They used standard builders yard materials whenever possible and kept the design simple by not installing lots of gadgets or special features. The house has 38 solar panels and despite the family using much of the solar panel production themselves, they managed to export more than half of their generation over 2016 – enough to provide electricity to an average family house.


Knavesmire PassivhausFrom no house to Passivhaus in 47 hours (Knavesmire area) – featuring Smart Electronic Intelligent Systems & wildflower meadow

A three bedroomed wood framed fully certified PassivHaus completed in July 2017. Built by specialist local builders Kent Developments from a design by local architect Phil Bixby the frame was fabricated in Lancashire and assembled on site  to being weather proof in little more than 47 hours. The house has triple glazing throughout; an efficient MVHR system. It is deeply insulated and has a 6.5 Kw integrated PV south facing roof array. A wildflower meadow surrounds the house on two sides. The house requires little heating save for a 1 kw heater in the MVHR and three heated towel rails. The house is being monitored for environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) as well as for energy.


Phil Bixby's retrofit design

Phil Bixby’s retrofit design

Eco-retrofitted house (Knavesmire area) – bringing the past up to tomorrow’s standard

Local architect Phil Bixby is eco-refurbishing his Victorian end-terrace house, retrofitting the existing structure to a high standard of insulation (including fitting triple-glazed sash-lookalike windows) and creating two new single-storey extensions each to Passivhaus-standard levels of performance and with green roofs. Attention to airtightness means whole-house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery can work efficiently, and the resulting energy requirements are sufficiently low to allow simple electric heating. A substantial photovoltaic array (including novel use of the south-facing gable wall) and battery storage mean the overall energy requirements can be efficiently provided for by a mix of solar and off-peak electricity. The house is actually not quite finished yet and is a building site. Please take care when visiting.


Please IGNORE THE SENTENCE BELOW about online bookings being unavailable.

(It’s only true about this particular web page because you need to book via Eventbrite. Apologies for this technical glitch.).

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