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PassivHaus state of play October 2010

Category: News October 29th, 2010 by mbc

There’s a nice summary of the current state of PassivHaus building in the UK on The Ecologist website. I was interested to read the reasons that Chris Herring, director of the Green Building Store was quoted as giving for the slow take-up of this approach to building design and construction in the UK:

Chris Herring … puts it down to a combination of factors: suspicion of European ideas, the language barrier, the lack of a publicly funded body to promote best practice in construction in the UK since the privatisation of BRE, and the fact that the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes has gone in a different direction (with a focus on renewables).

I’d like to add some further comment to that…

Personally, PassivHaus is a swings-and-roundabouts proposition – low bills and the satisfaction of ‘doing your bit for the planet’, weighed against a sterile and cold (in the sense of formal and aloof) interior. I like a ‘life giving’ open fire and all that it entails; I even enjoy chopping wood and laying the fire (probably because I don’t have to do it everyday). Sating the primal attraction to fire is a pleasure, one that I fear I may miss in a PassivHaus. So PassivHaus with a fireplace may suit me, but is that a compromise too far?

The other issue is builders. From experience builders, like most of us, prefer to remain in their comfort zone, using tried and tested techniques and materials. Whilst not demanding a massive shift in either aspect of building, PassivHaus construction is different enough to worry some and put off others. It is seemingly fashionable amongst the Grand Designs set to bring in foreign seemingly super efficient teams of builders who come ready made with the appropriate skills for PassivHaus, that’s not something I would do (and nor should YOU!). Our local builders need support and opportunity to develop the necessary skills. As developers, renovators and convertors we need to provide the opportunity (And I’m not sure that BRE can’t still provide the necessary support but I’ve not had enough contact with BRE to comment in any meaningful way). In short, it has to be an evolution toward PassivHaus standards rather than a big bang … and the evidence of the houses mentioned in the Guardian article suggest that evolution is underway.

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PassivHaus

Category: Eco-Architecture August 22nd, 2007 by mbc

One of the cornerstones of energy efficient, healthy, sustainable building design, the PassivHaus standard aims to provide comfortable year round living conditions through minimal energy expenditure.

These aims are achieved through:

  • An effective passive solar design that will provide the necessary heat gain (heating).
  • To manage the heat gain:
  • …very highly specified insulation,
  • …near complete airtightness.
  • Mechanical ventilation coupled with highly efficient heat recovery and ‘backup’ heating systems to manage the internal climate.

No additional heating systems are required.

The PassivHaus standard for buildings in Europe dictates that the building will consume no more energy than:

  • Heating & Cooling: 15kWh per m2 floor area per annum.
  • Total Primary Energy* Consumption: 120kWh per m2 floor area per annum for all appliances, domestic hot water and heating and cooling.

* Primary Energy is drawn from the national grid which is inherently inefficient, much energy being lost during distribution.

passivhaus.org.uk
passivhaus.org.uk

Visit the BRE managed PassivHaus site for further details of the specification.

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