At Ecology we’re big fans of Passivhaus, so we asked Chayley Collis of Green Building Store to tell us more about this innovative building standard ahead of the annual UK Passivhaus Open Days…
Are mechanical ventilation systems noisy? Does the air in a Passivhaus get too dry? Can you open the windows? How low really are the heating bills?*
These and many other questions can be answered during the UK Passivhaus Open Days running this year from 9 to 11 November, in conjunction with the International Passive House Association. Passivhaus or ‘passive house’ homes and buildings have been built in continental Europe since the early 1990s, but are still relatively new to the UK, with the first Passivhaus being certified in the UK in 2009. Since then around 20 to 30 Passivhaus projects have been completed over here, from schools to nursing homes, one-off detached houses to larger social housing projects.
Developed in Germany in the 1990s, Passivhaus is a quality assured standard and methodology for low energy building, which can help create buildings that use around 90% less energy than standard UK buildings. Passivhaus is the leading international low energy building standard, with more than 30,000 buildings built to the standard all over the world. Key Passivhaus features include super insulation, stringent levels of airtightness, minimal thermal bridging, optimisation of passive solar gain, and use of mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
Our own project, the Denby Dale Passivhaus, was completed by our Green Building Company in 2010 and was the UK’s first cavity wall Passivhaus. The project pioneered the combination of traditional British construction methods with the German low energy Passivhaus design methodology. The original design details developed for the project can also be used as a template as to how to minimize thermal bridging, improve energy efficiency and maximise the airtightness of projects built using cavity wall construction.
The house has now been lived in for over 2 years, with owners Geoff & Kate Tunstall still sharing their enthusiasm for life in a Passivhaus:
Living here has made a significant difference to the outgoings in our household finances – we can really feel the difference. The low utility bills mean that, on a fixed semi-retired income, we’ve got more money to spend on living rather than energy costs.
We wouldn’t want to ever live in a non-Passivhaus now. You can sum Passivhaus up in three words: comfortable, sustainable and cost-effective. I don’t think that there is anything about the house that we’d change. The whole thing has been a victory for common sense.
To find out where your nearest Passivhaus open day is, please visit the Passivhaus Trust website.
The Denby Dale Passivhaus (in West Yorkshire) will be open between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 November 2012. To book a free place to visit the Denby Dale Passivhaus, please contact me at Green Building Store on 01484 461705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Answers: No, No, Yes & Very