Passivhaus in the tropics The renovation of a garment factory in Sri Lanka to a certified Passivhaus shows how the methodology can work both with an industrial asset and in a tropical climate Dragos Arnautu
Sri Lanka is largely known for its growing tourism sector, beautiful tea plantations and massive clothing industry. This long history in garment manufacturing sometimes raises questions about the working conditions in older factory buildings, mainly because of the hot and humid climate combined with insufficiently ventilated and often noisy working spaces. So, when the opportunity arose to renovate an old factory building in capital city Colombo, Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture (JPDA) sought to make drastic 38 Journal May/June 2020
improvements in the energy efficiency of the building and the working environment. The goal was to design a state-of-the-art factory that would achieve the Passivhaus certification. Working with a project team across the globe, the Passivhaus Institut was charged with benchmarking, verification and certification of the retrofitted factory in Colomboâ€™s Katunayake district. Pioneering sustainability The Star Garments Innovation Centre is the first Passivhaus-certified building in
Sri Lanka, assessed against the stringent EnerPHit standard that was designed by the institute for the renovation of existing buildings. The projectâ€™s location in a hot and humid climate and its use as a manufacturing facility meant increased attention was paid to strategies that would reduce solar gain, as well as lowering heat from equipment and occupants. Controlling the humidity is not only essential for achieving the Passivhaus certification but also in ensuring better thermal comfort for the workers.