Low energy design

Low-energy home design

How to build a sustainable home that's fit for the future

Promotional Feature By Caroline Rodrigues |

There’s no better time to pursue a low-energy strategy than when embarking on a self-build or renovation project. RISE Design Studio, an award-winning architectural practice, specialises in low-energy design. Its architects will consider every aspect, providing a full design service with energy-saving at the heart of every home.

Passivhaus homes

Passivhaus is the gold standard for healthy, comfortable, efficient eco-homes. But your home doesn’t need to be certified as Passivhaus to be efficient. Include the recommended elements within your self-build and it will maintain an even temperature throughout the year, require minimal heating, enjoy a supply of fresh, filtered air and be free from draughts.

Passivhaus design by RISE

A Passivhaus by RISE Design Studio

Efficient envelope

The build system and materials you choose for your eco home will have a profound influence on its energy needs. For example, thermally insulated blockwork or a closed-panel timber frame packed with insulation will maximise thermal efficiency. Or you could build in cross-laminated timber (CLT) for a super airtight structure.

Sun strategy

Building with limited windows on the north side and maximising the glazing on the sun-facing south side of a home takes advantage of the sun’s warmth, so you’ll benefit from passive solar gain. Coupled with double or triple-glazed windows and doors, this will be a major factor in the efficiency of the house.

But too much sun can result in overheating. To counter this, consider including an overhanging roof to form a canopy, shading the building and making patios and balconies usable even when the sun is high.

Photo: Birch Clay Refugio by RISE Design Studio

RISE Design Studio’s Birch & Clay Refugio project in Harlesden

A fresh approach

Introduce a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system to enjoy the benefits of warm filtered air. These systems collect the residual heat from stale air before expelling it from the house, and use it to warm incoming fresh air from outside.

Heat and power

If your low-energy design is as airtight as possible and highly insulated, a few small radiators may be all that’s needed to top-up heating. Ground-source or air-source heat pumps and photovoltaic panels offer insurance against power cuts or high energy bills.

kitchen extension with exposed brick walls, lots of glazing and large wooden dining table with waney edges

RISE Design Studio’s Douglas House in Kensal Rise

An integrated approach

By combining various systems and methods your home could reach zero carbon levels, cutting out climate damaging emissions and saving on costs. Not only can RISE help you achieve this, but the systems will blend flawlessly with the design of the house. The studio uses Building Information Modelling (BIM) to simulate all aspects of the design, engineering and energy usage. Working in 3D from conception to completion with virtual reality allows for a greater understanding of the design before building starts.

woman in a contemporary low-energy design studio apartment with plywood-clad walls and plywood high sleeper bed

RISE Design Studio’s The Bunker project in Kensal Rise

More about low-energy design

Based in west London, RISE specialises in low-energy design and sustainable homes in the South East. Visit risedesignstudio.co.uk to find out how the team can help you to craft a healthy, comfortable home that looks beautiful and performs efficiently.