Guidance Standard

Active House Specifications 3.0

Active House Specifications 3.0 outlines the specifications for designing an Active House, a building that integrates health and comfort with energy efficiency and environmental performance. The Specifications outline the technical specifications that determine the quality and performance of an Active House.

Author: Active House Alliance

Publication date: 2020


Case Study

VELUX CarbonLight Homes

The VELUX Group envisioned a design that would serve as a model for future housing by offering a comfortable, sustainable living environment that could enhance quality of life. The buildings would ideally reduce energy use, advocate a respect for the environment, and be sympathetic to local aesthetics. It was the first Active House in the UK.

The two semi-detached homes offer proof that building energy-efficient, sustainable housing that is a joy to live in is not only possible, but also affordable. The homes use the latest technologies and offer comfortable living environments with indoor climates that have a positive impact on biological rhythms, well-being and performance.

In accordance with core Active House principles, the CarbonLight Homes actively integrate energy, indoor climate and environment in their design. As a result, the homes have succeeded in minimising energy use, increasing a sense of environmental responsibility, and generating a sense of community. And while the design aesthetics harmonise with the homes’ surroundings, they also have an appealing, modern identity of their own.

  • Highly insulated building fabric with a ‘U’ value of 0.11 W/m²°C for all walls, floor and roof.
  • Very airtight envelope to achieve an air permeability through the structure of less than 3m³/h.m² at an air pressure of 50 Pascals (50N/m²).
  • Triple glazed windows to the colder side (East elevation) to provide improved thermal protection and double glazed windows to the warmer side (West elevation) to take advantage of solar gain.
  • High levels of glazing to take advantage of solar gain and improved natural daylight.
  • Hot water and space heating using solar thermal collectors, air source heat pump and Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
  • Natural ventilation strategy all year round with mechanical support (with heat recovery) during the heating period.
  • Low energy light fittings throughout.
  • Automated window operation and blind control to reduce solar gain, prevent glare and reduce internal CO2 levels.

The project was a collaboration between the VELUX Group, HTA Design, Kettering Borough Council, Willmott Dixon and North Northants Development Company.

Key information

  • Project name: VELUX CarbonLight Homes
  • Location: Kettering
  • Project type: New Build
  • Sector: Residential
  • No. of dwellings: Single dwelling
  • Key dates: August 2011 (Completion)

Project team

  • Architect: HTA Architects
  • Client: Velux
  • Developer: Willmott Dixon Housing Ltd

More information:

Photo credits: Velux