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Passivhaus perfection

This stunning village hall is also a groundbreaking model of eco-excellence. It was the first village hall in the country to get Passivhaus certification - that's a rigorous energy efficiency standard and certification scheme for buildings.

This stylish venue is situated near Downham Market in Norfolk. It replaced a YMCA hut that was in a bad state of decay.

It's well used by the community in Wereham and the surrounding villages. Approximately 200 people can now be accommodated in the smart, new building.

The hall offers a varied programme of physical activities and coaching for adults and children. 

It was designed to have low energy costs and is well insulated from the Norfolk wind and rain. Fresh air is pumped in at a comfortable temperature, via heat exchangers.

Eco-credentials: Passivhaus certification in 2018

Committee operator: Wereham Village Hall Management Committee

Value: c. £1.1 million

The vision of a local hub for activity and socialising

The vision was to create a sustainable village hall for the benefit of local people. It was important that it should be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, and that it helped to improve lives. 

During the five-year preparation and fundraising period, the project group developed an environmentally-friendly approach for a local facility with low running costs.

The idea was that it should be sustainable, with a low carbon footprint, to benefit the local environment and future generations.

This vision was embedded in the project-briefing documents and was critical in the selection of an Architect, Environmental Engineer and other members of the design and delivery teams.

It was our aim to deliver a facility with reduced energy use to ensure economic accessibility for all.

Victoria Gray, Chair of the Wereham Village Hall Management Committee

Consulting the community

The project team consulted the Wereham community. They shared the view that an attractive environmentally-friendly building was critical to the long-term success of the project.

The decision was to create a Passivhaus building. Buildings constructed in this way can achieve a significant reduction in heating bills. 

The aim was to achieve carbon reductions in line with Government targets. 

How they realised the dream

Defining the requirements

The project team developed a 'statement of requirements' defining the must-haves for the new building.

They specified that it must be air-tight, thermally efficient, with low energy costs and high levels of comfort.

This would keep costs down, as well as the environmental impact. It would also provide financial sustainability and reduce the need for fundraising. 

Choosing the right people for the job

The team members were chosen for their experience in similar projects:

  • The architects were based in Norfolk and had experience of Passivhaus projects and sensitive designs within conservation areas. 
  • The environmental engineer had a national reputation in Passivhaus design.
  • The main contractor had experience of the exacting construction techniques.

Input from Sport England

The team got advice from Sport England about ventilation and fresh air requirements for a hall that would be used for exercise. 

Commissioning, building and monitoring

The project was commissioned and built to Passivhaus standards of energy efficiency. Monitoring is ongoing, to check that the building continues to meet the objectives.

The village hall is now registered with the Passivhaus Institute in Germany

Typically, Passivhaus buildings achieve a 75% reduction in space heating requirements compared to standard new builds.

This means lower energy bills, and greater environmental and financial sustainability.

Sustainability stats

Recorded energy performance

Heating demand 14 kWh/m²/year

Heating load 10 W/m²

Primary energy requirement 42 kWh/m²/ year

Air tightness n50 = 0.03/hour

Calculated demand for heating/hot water/electricity 14 kW/m²/year

Thermal envelope U-values

External walls 0.117 W/m²K

Floor slab 0.104 W/m²K

Roof 0.124 W/m²K

Frame 0.181 W/m²K

The team

Client Wereham Village Hall Committee

Construction cost £884k excluding professional fees and VAT

Architect Parsons + Whittley

Contractor Walker Construction Services Ltd

Environmental engineer / services consultant Alan Clarke

Cost consultant G C Baxter & Associates Ltd

Passivhaus certifier MEAD Ltd

Sources of funding

Sport England was one of the contributors to this project. Here is an A-Z of all the supporters:

  • Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
  • Foyle Foundation
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Leader
  • Love Norfolk
  • Shelroy Charitable Trust Fund
  • Sport England
  • Tesco Bags of Help
  • The European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas
  • The Geoffrey Watling Charity
  • The National Lottery Community Fund
  • The Paul Bassham Charitable Trust
  • The Prince’s Countryside Fund West Norfolk Recycling Rewards
  • Wereham Parish Council
  • WREN

Find out more

Wereham Village Hall