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Jess Attrill BA Hons Assoc CIAT, architectural technician of our planning and design team, discusses passive housing within the UK.
The Passive House (or Passivhaus) standard aims to prevent over and under heating, through the creation of a building envelope which can hold heat and doesn’t require active forms of heating such as radiators and gas fires.
As climate awareness increases in the UK and energy prices soar, interest in either building or retrofitting to the Passive House green building standard is increasing.
There are however only 1,500 buildings of this standard in the UK. Each one is built – or retrofitted – to an internationally recognized “energy and comfort standard”, which typically involves very high levels of insulation, triple-glazed windows and an airtight, draught-free structure.
A Passive House is a building standard that depends on a mixture of energy efficiency with passive solar and internal heat gains to effectively reduce space heating demands and allow for simplified methods of providing needed heat.
Any building pursuing passive house certification in the UK must meet all standards required by the Passivhaus Trust, and undergo a strict compliance process with a qualified expert from start to finish. The accreditation process, plus costs that accrue from insulating and ventilating to a very high standard, mean these homes typically cost between 4% and 8% more to build than a standard home; however, a point to consider with passive houses being so efficient is that everyday expenses will be substantially lower than average homes, with monthly outgoings being reduced noticeably. Some banks may recognise the savings made from this and offer cheaper mortgages due to energy efficiency. These points shared make a convincing argument for why a passive house can be just as price competitive as standard homes.
Despite the potential effectiveness of energy saving that a property of this build can bring, the role of the occupants has remained a relatively unexplored topic. A study that gathered views from housing professionals shows an assumption that the general public is lacking in knowledge to understand technology in their homes and is unable or unwilling to change their lifestyles.
On reflection, investing time and money into these efficient buildings will have a higher value and, with such buildings becoming more widespread, the resale price of highly efficient buildings will become more obvious.