Shepherd’s Barn




Shepherd’s Barn, a one-and-a-half storey barn conversion in County Durham, is one of only a handful of certified EnerPHit Plus buildings in the UK. This means it has achieved the highest international standard for energy efficiency in retrofit, as well as supplementing the energy saved with substantial renewable generation – in this case a 7 kWp PV array with a Tesla Powerwall. As the Passivhaus standard for retrofit, EnerPHit delivers close to the same levels of thermal comfort, healthy indoor air and minimal heating demand as a new-build Passivhaus.

The impact of embodied carbon was considered throughout the design and construction process, retaining and adapting what was there, using natural materials, and reducing waste as much as possible. To all intents and purposes on-site construction waste was eliminated. Both PHRibbon and LETI’s Embodied Carbon Reporting Template were used to track the success of these strategies.

The owners keep their home in ecological harmony with its rural location. Wildflowers are allowed to flourish, kept in check when needed with a scythe, and the garden is used to grow vegetables.

Since they moved in, owners Paul and Sonny have been monitoring the performance of the building and report, “We feel very comfortable in the house. It’s very resilient. The experience hasn’t changed our mind because we have had a year plus getting to know how to use the heating. We have never used the radiator in our bedroom, but it is south facing. Very rarely have we used the heating all day…. Probably only about 5 days a year. For maybe 4 – 5 months a year the heating is set 1 hour in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. That’s the 2 downstairs radiators. What’s so good is the lack of draughts!!” The monitoring shows that Paul and Sonny have achieved energy independence, which means they have fuel security and are buffered from rising fuel prices.

Key Features

  • EnerPHit Plus – an energy-generating Passivhaus retrofit
  • Satisfies both Operational Energy and Whole Life Carbon targets of the 2030 RIBA Challenge
  • Three RIBA 2022 Awards: RIBA North East Building of the Year, RIBA North East Client of the Year, RIBA North East Sustainability Award
Shepherds Barn ext 1

Sustainability Indicators

Shepherds Barn sustainability indicator wheel

Further Information

Read the Passivhaus Trust’s project report here

Read the RIBA Awards report here