The garden of Foleshill Health Centre

Passivhaus certification for Foleshill Health Centre the UK’s greenest healthcare building

The award-winning Foleshill Health Centre in Coventry has received its Classic Passivhaus Certificate reinforcing its credentials as the greenest healthcare building in the UK.  Using 21st-century technology and innovation to provide a spacious and welcoming primary care facility for patients and staff, ensures high-quality care for the local community.

Foleshill Health Centre from the west

Foleshill Health Centre is a £3.3m, 619m² building serving up to 10,000 patients in inner city Coventry. The new GP surgery has five consulting rooms and two treatment rooms.   The GP team moved in and began seeing patients in August 2021.  The health centre is a partnership between DHSC-owned Community Health Partnerships (CHP) and NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the new tenants Foleshill Surgery, a GP practice, part of Coventry and Rugby GP Alliance.

Consulting Room at Foleshill Health Centre

Treatment Room at Foleshill Health Centre

Integrating Passivhaus at Foleshill – an international standard

CHP chose Passivhaus for its overall sustainability ethos with low running costs and health benefits. Passivhaus is an international low energy, design standard which has been used to design, build and monitor over 65,000 buildings worldwide. Passivhaus buildings are heated by sunlight, people and appliances with a very small heating system for very cold weather.

This is the first time that NHSE/I has approved this type of energy efficient building for the NHS in England.  Foleshill has sensors included in the building fabric to monitor the building performance including energy, water use and both internal and external temperatures, air quality and building usage.  The building has a detailed three year data monitoring and reporting process to both NHSE/I and the local CCG.

It is an example for the rest of the NHS showing what can be done using the most modern, innovative, sustainable volumetric building methods – a benchmark for how health buildings can be sustainable in the future.

“CHP are delighted to achieve the first Passivhaus accreditation for a health centre in the UK.  The benefits of Passivhaus will improve the working conditions of staff and the care environment of patients and carers as users of the Foleshill Health Centre for years to come.  It is also a key step in delivering on the NHS commitment to Net Zero Carbon.” said Eugene Prinsloo, Developments Director at CHP.

Mechanical Heat Recovery Unit

Airsource heat recovery pumps at Foleshill Health Centre

Passivhaus and sustainable features at Foleshill Health Centre

  • The building is highly insulated, so it is warm in winter and cool in the summer. The Insulation exceeds the Building Regulations fabric insulation values by about 40%.
  • The building is very airtight; the leakage rate roughly equates to a hole the size of a golf ball across the whole building.
  • The energy-efficient features include triple glazed windows, which can be opened if required.
  • All rooms have filtered 100% fresh air from ducts in the ceiling, supplied from ventilation units that recover heat from stale air leaving the building. The air is filtered to a similar standard as an operating theatre, ensuring a safe and clean environment (ISO ePM1 – June 2021).
  • Point of use electric heated domestic hot water – each sink has its own boiler.
  • There is a small heating system using air source mechanical heat recovery pumps connected to small radiators.
  • Photovoltaic (solar) panels on the roof provide electricity.
  • All the lighting is provided by energy-efficient LED lamps.
  • No fossil fuels are used in the building.

In addition, Foleshill Health Centre has an electric car charging point, bike racks and is close to public transport to encourage sustainable travel.

The GP surgery has an EPC A rating (12), close to net zero CO2 with very low energy use, and is BREEAM Excellent (March 2023).

Foleshill Health Centre from the south with sunshades on the windows

Constructing Foleshill Health Centre

The centre was created in 10 months from ground works to completion during the Covid-19 pandemic – nearly 30% quicker than a traditional building by using modern methods of construction.

The CHP team, the architects Tooley Foster (Passivhaus experts) and cost consultants AECOM worked together as a collaborative design and build team with modular experts Portakabin as the design, development and build contractor. The team planned the interiors and engineering services at the offsite construction stage.  Using exacting standards of engineering to tolerances of 1mm, the Portakabin team delivered precise control across every aspect of the project from design to manufacturing; measuring every resource used and any waste generated.

No waste was sent to landfill from the module production at the Portakabin facility in York.  From the construction site at Foleshill, 2.48% of waste was sent to landfill (1.063 tonnes) with 97.52% of waste recycled (41.847 tonnes).  This is a significant improvement on the construction sector as a whole where over 90% is recycled.

The units were then transported to Coventry and reassembled, becoming watertight in just three days. The final fit-out, including adding the insulation and the roof were completed on site.

Foleshill Health Centre from the east with sun shades around the windows

Key timeline for Foleshill Health Centre – the UK’s first Passivhaus healthcare building

  • 17 July 2020 – Final Business Case approval
  • 1 Sept 2020 – Groundwork began onsite at Foleshill
  • Sept 2020 – Module construction begins at the Portakabin facility in York
  • 7 Dec 2020 – 14 specially designed modules are finished.
  • 2 Dec 2020 – Foundations cast at Foleshill
  • 9/10/11 Dec 2020 – Delivery and installation of the Portakabin modules
  • 16 December 2020 – Building watertight in three days
  • Jan to May 2021 – Construction continued at Foleshill with windows, internal and external doors added. Fixtures and fittings were added, along with stairs and a lift.
  • 10 Feb 2021 – Power for the building and the plumbing were connected
  • March to May 2021 – Three air tests for Passivhaus certification
  • May 2021 – Solar panels fixed on the roof
  • 4 June 2021 – Practical Completion
  • Fri 6 Aug 2021 – The GP team move into Foleshill Health Centre
  • Mon 9 Aug 2021 – Foleshill Surgery team begin seeing patients
  • 19 October 2021 – Foleshill Health Centre is certified Passivhaus Classic

An example for the future NHS Estate

As the UK’s first health centre certified to Passivhaus standards, Foleshill not only leads the way for carbon emissions reduction in this type of building but demonstrates its potential for repetition and upscaling across the future health estate.  Foleshill contributes to the NHS carbon net zero target and supports its aim to be the world’s first net zero national health service.

Foleshill Health Centre is helping to proactively tackle the challenges of climate change.

Read more: Foleshill Health Centre Case Study

The story of Foleshill Health Centre with timelapse

Watch the video about Foleshill, the first UK health centre certified to the Passivhaus Classic international standard for low energy usage and sustainability.

The story of Foleshill Health Centre – timelapse

Awards for Foleshill Health Centre

Foleshill has won awards and accolades across the healthcare and construction sectors for its sustainable innovations, value for money and impact on future health care building design.

Won the Best New Build Project of the Year at the Healthcare Estates IHEEM Awards (19 October) from a shortlist of 13.  In addition, Foleshill Health Centre was shortlisted for the Sustainable Achievement Award.

Won the Sustainability Award at the CABE Built Environment Awards on 14 October 2021 (CABE news + CABE YouTube video).  This award recognises projects that are not only future-proof, but are working to ensure the quality of that future through innovative practices that reduce a building’s overall impact on the environment in an exceptional way.

Won the Offsite Award and was Highly Commended in the Value Award at the Constructing Excellence East Midlands ceremony (2 September 2021).

Won Sustainability Award, won Offsite Award, won Value Award and was Winner of Winners at the Constructing Excellence West Midlands ceremony (10 September 2021).

Read more:  Foleshill Awards

Foleshill Health Centre side view to front door white render black windows wooden effect panels blue sky
Foleshill Health Centre from the west – The UK’s greenest healthcare building

NHS Carbon Footprint

Foleshill Health Centre contributes to the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus aim.  The health estate makes up 4-5% of England’s carbon footprint.

  • The NHS Carbon Footprint (emissions NHS controls directly), will be net zero by 2040, with the ambition to reach an 80% reduction from 2028-2032
  • The NHS Carbon Footprint Plus (emissions NHS can influence), will be net zero by 2045, with the ambition to reach an 80% reduction from 2036-2045

Read more about the #GreenerNHS

19 October 2021

Delivery partners:

Portakabin (Main contractor), Tooley Foster Architects (Passivhaus experts), AECOM (infrastructure consultants) and Arden Estate Partnerships Limited (development management).

Find out about Passivhaus: Passivhaus Trust Video: Passivhaus explained in 90 seconds

Read more:

Case study: Foleshill Health Centre
News about Foleshill Health Centre, Coventry

Photography: Beth Walsh
Drone/Timelapse: Heavy-Duty Time-Lapse

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