This study focuses on the environmental performance of a selection of buildings in the typical Central Anatolian village of Şahmuratli in Turkey. The objective was to search for affordable and energy-efficient construction techniques suitable for rural settlements and incorporating traditional cultural values in a semi-arid upland region characterised by long severe winters and hot, dry summers. This was pursued by analysing temperature and humidity measurements within buildings constructed from a variety of traditional and modern materials. The thermal behaviour and comfort, the patterns of energy use and the appropriateness of the different building techniques and materials are analysed, compared and discussed. Aspects of this ongoing study, initiated by a British Council Partnership Programme, are presented in this paper which focuses on a traditional mudbrick structure, a straw bale house and an aerated concrete building. We demonstrate how a building envelope reacts to outdoor conditions through graphic illustration and show ways in which the research can be extended by the creation of simulations using Ecotect software. This research contributes to the promotion of passive and low energy architecture towards a sustainable future.