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Passivhaus Certification for Foleshill Health Centre – The UK’s Greenest Healthcare Building

The UK’s greenest health centre built to meet Passivhaus certification – Foleshill Health Centre in Coventry – has opened its doors to patients following completion.


The £3.3m 619m2 Foleshill Health Centre in inner-city Coventry is a partnership between Department of Health and Social Care-owned Community Health Partnerships (CHP) and NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The Foleshill Surgery GP practice team, part of Coventry and Rugby GP Alliance, began seeing patients in August 2021. The centre has five consulting rooms and two treatment rooms for up to 10,000 patients. Foleshill is the first British healthcare building to receive Passivhaus certification.

The award-winning centre is one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the NHS estate and was constructed in just 10 months, significantly quicker than a traditionally-constructed building. This is the first time that NHSE&I has approved this type of building for the NHS in England, following a detailed scrutiny process. Foleshill not only leads the way for carbon emission reduction in this type of building, but also demonstrates its potential for repetition and upscaling across the future health estate, contributing to the NHS’ carbon-net-zero target, and supporting its aim to be the world’s first net-zero national health service.

Dr Peter O’Brien, Chair of Coventry and Rugby GP Alliance, said: “Committing to and supporting a greener future will benefit our patients, their children and future generations, so we are extremely proud to be delivering primary care services to our local community from Foleshill Health Centre.”

“This is a very exciting project which has taken a lot of work to get over the line,” said Malcolm Twite, CHP Executive Director, Property Performance. “Foleshill paves the way for future sustainable developments, which will make a valuable contribution to the NHS carbon footprint target for net zero by 2045. Health estate makes up 4 to 5% of England’s carbon footprint, so it is vital to find ways forward to reducing this. We are very proud to have led the way with our partners at Foleshill.”


The project team used project management principles and processes subsequently included within the Government’s December 2020 Construction Playbook, which captures modern methods of construction (MMC), commercial best practices and sector reforms. It was built with Portakabin modules specially designed to international Passivhaus sustainability standards, and is a major milestone for volumetric modular construction.

The modules were designed and manufactured by Portakabin at its manufacturing facility in York. Using exacting standards of engineering to tolerances of 1mm, the Portakabin team delivered precise control across every aspect of the project – from product design to manufacturing, measuring every resource used and any waste generated. The units were then transported to Coventry and reassembled, becoming watertight in just three days. The final fit-out, and the addition of the insulation and roof, were completed on site.

The annual utilities’ running costs will be very low compared to a traditional build giving significant savings over its lifetime. Foleshill Health Centre has an EPC A rating (12), close to net-zero CO2. It is expected to be BREEAM ‘Excellent’.

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 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 water heater

•  There is a small heating system using air source mechanical pump (Swegon) 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.

Funding and partnership

The £3.3m building is a CHP-delivered, public capital-funded scheme. It has been delivered through partnership between CHP and NHS Coventry and Warwickshire CCG, without the need for debt funding or joint ventures, using the NHS SBS procurement framework. Delivery partners were Portakabin (main contractor), Tooley Foster Architects (Passivhaus specialist), AECOM as infrastructure consultants and Arden Estate Partnerships (development management).

Lee Connolly, Head of Project Design and Engineering at Portakabin, said: “This pilot project is pushing the boundaries of offsite construction within the public sector, as well as the perceptions of what can be achieved with MMC. Foleshill is showcasing the flexibility of MMC and is a bold and brave step toward creating a legacy of buildings that will help the construction industry proactively tackle climate change.”

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

Project Timeline

• August 2018
Outline Business Case approval

• 17 July 2020
Final Business Case approval

• August 2020
Works contract signed

• 1 September 2020
Groundwork begins on site at Foleshill

• September 2020
Module construction begins at the Portakabin facility in York

• 2 December 2020
Foundations cast

• 7 December 2020
14 specially-designed modules are finished in only 18 weeks

• 9/10/11 December 2020
Delivery and installation of modules

• 11 December 2020
Building watertight in only three days

• January to May 2021
Construction continues with insulation, lifts and stairs fitted

• February 2021
Power and water connected

• March to May 2021
Three air tests for Passivhaus certification

• May 2021
Solar panels fitted on the roof

• 4 June 2021
Practical completion

• 9 August 2021
GP team move in and begin seeing patients

• October 2021
Passivhaus certification awarded

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