Star Garment Innovation Center

Star Garment Innovation Center
Katunayake, Sri Lanka


Location Katunayake, Sri Lanka
Coordinates 7° N, 80° E
Occupancy Type Factory / Industrial
Typology Existing, Retrofit
Climate Type Tropical
Project Area 3,675 m2
Date of Completion 2018
Grid Connectivity Grid-connected
EPI 164 kWh/m2/yr
Passive House Design Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture (JPDA)
Architect & Interior Design Vinod Jayasinghe Associates (Pvt) Ltd
Energy Consultants Steven Winter Associates (SWA)

The Star Innovation Center is an existing garment manufacturing factory building retrofitted through careful design and engineering for sustainability, energy efficiency, and worker comfort. The factory building has been upgraded to meet the Passive House standard, thus making it the first certified Passive House (PH) building in Sri Lanka and one of only a handful of certified PH projects in tropical climates.

The building is a milestone as it sets new standards by applying cutting-edge sustainable technologies – providing year-round

comfort in the workspace, abundant natural light, low humidity, filtered fresh air, and maintaining temperatures near a constant 24°C. The benefit of these features is reflected in the reduced annual energy use by around 54%.

The Star Innovation Center generates approximately 11% of its energy through installed solar photovoltaic panels spread over an area of 2,549 m2 with an approximate generation of 19 kWh/m2/yr.

Image: Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture
Photographer: Ganidu Balasuriya

Star Garment Innovation Center
Katunayake, Sri Lanka

Re-using the Existing Building

The existing steel skeleton and the concrete slab have been re-used to reduce carbon footprint of the building. This also lowers the use of fossil fuels typically required for demolition and a new build.

Retrofitting and Modifications

The most important strategy implemented is the installation of highly efficient airtight insulated envelope.

An Exterior Insulated Finish System (EIFS) continuously wraps both existing and new structural components in insulation with minimal thermal bridging. Low absorption or highly reflective exterior surfaces helps to reduce the cooling energy demand of the building.


A new metal prefabricated roof consists of 120 mm thick sandwich panels with a polyurethane rigid (PUR) foam insulating core and an outer heat-reflecting coating.

This roof assembly results in a thermal transmittance U-value of 0.182 W/(m2K),largely contributing towards keeping the tropical heat away from the interior.

Exterior Infill Walls

The exposed steel frame is partly filled with concrete masonry units (CMU) which are made efficient by the use of a thermal insulation composite system made from EPS. 

The exterior wall is a CMU wall assembly consisting of a masonry wall (203mm), a cement board (12mm), EPS (graphite enhanced, 80mm), and stucco (6mm), resulting in a U-value of 0.329 W/(m2K).

High-Performance Window & Glazing

The exposed steel frame is filled with extensive floor-to-ceiling insulating glass elements. 

A high-performing curtain wall with double glazing and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.22 allows only 22% of solar radiation to enter the building thus significantly reducing the heat transfer into the interior, resulting in further reduction of cooling loads.

External Shading & Overhangs: 

Strategically designed overhangs and decorative external colored glass panels serve as sun protection screens to reduce the overall heat gain into the building.

Thermal Bridge: 

To minimize the thermal bridging, a fluid-applied thermal break is used at strategic connections to carefully seal the envelope.

Photographer: Ganidu Balasuriya
Photographer: Ganidu Balasuriya

Star Garment Innovation Center
Katunayake, Sri Lanka

Efficient Heat Recovery Mechanical Ventilation System:

The ventilation system design includes energy recovery ventilation (ERV) through heat recovery, wrap-around heat pipes for enhanced dehumidification capacity, and a highly efficient VRF system.

5 ventilation units with heat and humidity recovery have been installed. At an average electric efficiency 0.7Wh/m³, this results in 72% heat recovery and 70% humidity recovery.  

In the system’s heat exchanger, after ERV, cooling and dehumidification is carried out via fan coil units. These units first cool the supply air below the required interior temperature to dehumidify it. This results in deposition of the condensate in the ventilation system immediately, thus avoiding its deposition later in the workspace. 

After dehumidification, the supply air is slightly warmed up using the heat pipes which recover waste heat from the cooling system and rooms. This reheated supply air then flows into the building.

The heat pipes work in collaboration with the solar panels on the roof which saves costs in comparison with the classic electrical reheat systems.

Photographer: Ganidu Balasuriya

Star Garment Innovation Center
Katunayake, Sri Lanka

Installed rooftop solar photovoltaics generate approximately 11% of the energy requirement of the building.

The estimated generation is approximately 4,8340 kWh/yr, which is 19 kWh /(m2yr) based on the projected area of 2,549 m2.

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