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Gentoo Racecourse project

Green Building Store has supplied PAUL MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) systems and Pro Clima airtightness products to Gentoo’s Passivhaus development on the newly built Racecourse Estate near Sunderland. The project comprises 25 Passivhaus bungalows (and 3 super insulated homes) making it the UK’s largest Passivhaus certified development to date (as at July 2012).

The development at Houghton-le-Spring comprises 4 terraces so as to minimise heat loss. When assessed under the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) the calculated carbon emissions satisfy the CSH Level 4 without the need for renewable technologies and, with the provision of some solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, are capable of CSH Levels 5 and 6.

The project has recently been awarded the CENE (Construction Excellence in the North East) Regional Innovation award 2012. The award was presented to Gentoo, Devereux Architects (project Architect Mark Siddall), Alan Clarke, Cundall and Kent Design. Winners go on to compete in the National Constructing Excellence Awards.

The project started in 2009 when it was very difficult to source Passivhaus certified MVHR systems in the UK. Project architect Mark Siddall came to Green Building Store, as agents for England & Wales agents, for PAUL Passivhaus certified ventilation units and because he was very familiar with Green Building Store as long-standing members of the AECB  (

Green Building Store was at the time, and still is, far and away ahead of everyone else in terms of knowledge and expertise in designing and supplying MVHR systems for low energy & Passivhaus projects.

Mark Siddall

The PAUL MVHR units selected were Atmos units (now superseded by Focus 200 units) and are performing very well at the project. Green Building Store provided ducting design to optimise performance of the MVHR system. Green Building Store’s MVHR Technical Manager Andrew Farr commissioned the system as well.

Dr David Johnston from Leeds Metropolitan University and colleagues undertook co-heating tests on two of the units at the Racecourse project and also undertook a test of the performance of the MVHR ventilation systems at the project.

The houses will be monitored over the coming years to assess the energy performance in practice and to assess how residents find living in the homes.

Project details


Mark Siddall is now at L.E.A.P


Dr David Johnston, Reader at the Centre for the Built Environment (CeBE)

Lesley Fairley, Director of Operations, Gentoo



Life changing homes