Ice Box Challenge Glasgow: St Enoch Square, July 23 - August 6, 2021

Under the patronage of the UNECE, the City of Glasgow will host the “Ice Box Challenge” from July 23 – August 6 in St Enoch Square. Organisers include the International Passive House Association, Passive House Institute, Glasgow City Council, Passivhaus Trust and Edinburgh Napier University, who describe the challenge as a public experiment and contest to demonstrate how a building can be highly energy-efficient and comfortable. The event offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Passive House Standard and win great prizes!

What is the Ice Box Challenge?

The Ice Box Challenge is a scientific demonstration, visually highlighting the benefits of energy-efficient buildings. After a successful student competition, a jury including the Passive House Institute; Glasgow Institute of Architects; John Gilbert Architects; Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Edinburgh Napier University selected the winning design, submitted by Robert Gordon University. Event sponsor Construction Scotland Innovation Centre is now working with the winning group to fabricate the ice boxes the ice boxes at its Innovation Factory in Hamilton. Lina Khairy, member of the winning design team and student at Robert Gordon University, said of the project “Such an amazing experience to get to build these boxes and gain insight into the construction process! This is honestly a dream come true!” The building materials necessary for this were kindly supplied by the Challenge’s sponsors Stewart and Shields, Ecological Building Systems, AC Whyte, ITW Construction Products, Scotia Windows and Doors and Construction and CCG (Scotland) Ltd. One box is being built to the Scottish Building Standard and the other to the highly energy-efficiency Passive House Standard. The boxes will then be filled with an equal amount of ice and displayed for public viewing in St Enoch Square for two weeks. The amount of ice left in each box at the end of this period will be measured, and the level of remaining ice will be used to demonstrate how well each ice box kept out the heat.


Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony will take place at St Enoch Square from 12:30-1:30 PM on July 23 and is open to the public. Councillor Kenny McLean, City Convener for Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm at Glasgow City Council, will officially open the Ice Box Challenge. The closing ceremony will take place on August 6, from 1-2 PM. During this event, the remaining ice will be weighed and the results announced. This will include declaring the winner of the ‘Guess the remaining ice level’ competition, who will receive a weekend stay in a UK Passive House B&B, courtesy of a coalition of Scottish Housing Associations sponsoring the event. The competition, set up by sponsor OpenTech, will run from July 23-August 1 via the Ice Box Challenge website. There are also Passive House prize packs to be won. The prizes have been kindly donated by four housing associations in Glasgow, Shettleston, Sanctuary, Southside and West of Scotland Housing Associations, who are currently developing to the Passive House Standard.

Passive House is an international, public, performance-based building standard for all types of buildings, in any climate, developed by the Passive House Institute in 1996. Passive House buildings are highly energy-efficient, predominantly using passive heat sources such as the sun’s rays and heat from the occupants and their technical devices to stay warm in winter. During the warmer months, strategic, passive cooling techniques such as night ventilation and shading keep Passive House buildings comfortably cool. This substantially reduces the need for active heating and cooling.

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#EfficiencyFirst and COP26

The Ice Box Challenge is a part of the International Passive House Association’s 2021 awareness raising campaign “Efficiency: The First Renewable Energy #EfficiencyFirst”. The campaign emphasises the foundational role an efficiency first approach plays in any building project, as embodied or upfront carbon reductions are at risk of being overwhelmed by operating emissions over the building’s lifecycle. Equally, converting to an all-renewable energy future is not possible unless we achieve energy-efficiency at scale.

With this public display, the group hope to raise awareness for the vital role energy efficiency in buildings plays in meeting our climate goals in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, this coming November. Project coordinator, Giorgia Tzar notes “Better building design can help us reduce our carbon pollution without changing our behaviour. Buildings that prioritise efficiency first are comfortable and healthy.” Volunteers will be available over the course of the experiment to answer questions and provide information on the Passive House Standard.

Visitors can find out more about the challenge, its organisers, sponsors and more on the Ice Box Challenge website.