Australia's first Passive House Certified apartment building, The Fern, has opened in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. 

Located 300m from Redfern Station, the development includes 11 one-bedroom 'next-generation' serviced apartments. 

The Fern Passivhaus apartments exterior

Features include: 

  • Triple glazed doors and windows which are six times more energy efficient than their code-compliant equivalents.
  • Airtight construction that is 40 times better than the average home, keeping out dust, noise and insects.
  • Constant fresh, hypoallergenic filtered air free of dust, pollen and pollution through Heat Recovery Ventilation.
  • Structural thermal breaks preventing unwanted heat transfer. 
  • 21kW of solar power with smart metering.
  • 10 star NatHERS energy rating (the best ever achieved in an Australian apartment). 

"Passive House takes sustainable development to the next level, using proven building physics to create healthy living spaces that stay cool in summer and warm in winter with ultra-low energy use," says architect and builder Oliver Steele. 

"These apartments are so well sealed there are literally no gaps or cracks for city dust or cockroaches to enter. Couple this with the super-insulated envelope and heat recovery ventilation that filters out pollution and pollen, and you have a health cocoon for living in at goldilocks temperatures, all year round."

The Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) unit is the key to maintaining ideal temperatures year-round. An inbuilt heat exchanger keeps the heat outside in summer and inside in winter as it supplies fresh air to living areas and exhausts from bathroom and kitchens. 

"Australian building codes didn't recognise HRV as a ventilation solution because it works with constant low volumes of air instead of a 2-minute high-volume fan blast," says Steele. 

"So the Australian Passive House Association commissioned Computational Fluid Dynamics Modelling, which found that HRV is a superior solution, now approved for The Fern. This alternative solution can be used in apartments across the country, sparking positive change for the way we build and live in the future." 

The interior of each apartment has been finished with striking polished concrete walls that contrast with refined timber and marble finishes. "The interiors are conceived as bespoke furniture wrapping and defining the space," says Steele. 

Image credit: Steele Associates