UK’s largest passive building opens to 2,400 students and staff
University of Leicester – the new Centre for Medicine
Completed early this year, the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester is by far the largest single building in the UK to meet the passive house standard — and not surprisingly, its design and construction posed tough new challenges on how to meet the rigorous low energy standard on such a large, complicated building. December 2016
South London scheme delivers better health for residents
The original houses, with the new build homes beyond
A sensitive development of social housing in Lambeth combines three new passive houses with six low energy flats carefully constructed inside an old Victorian terrace. With the emphasis on good indoor air quality, residents are already reporting improvements in health & well-being since moving from their old accommodation. Oct 2106
Safeguarding historic documents and other artefacts requires super-stable environmental conditions. This has usually been achieved by using masses of expensive and energy-hogging heating and cooling plant, but a new approach for Herefordshire Council used the passive house approach to conserve energy, money — and the county’s precious historical archives. Nov 2015
The team behind a series of passive house schools in Wolverhampton have used the lessons learned from in-depth monitoring of the first two buildings to make the third even better — and cheaper to build. Oct 2015
Ledbury passive house embraces warmth, wood & light
The ‘modern organic’ style of the Ledbury Passive House
For the builder and his client, aiming for the passive house standard was just one part of an environmentally conscious approach that put natural, healthy materials to the fore.
The style of the house inside and out is what the owner calls ‘modern organic’ – white paint and render, and lots of natural wood. The carpentry is beautifully finished, with charming bespoke touches. Not everyone expects a passive house to be like this…Nov 2015
This document was written in response to a NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) 2014 consultation on producing guidelines for health authorities on tackling excess winter deaths and illnesses. It was written (mainly) by me, on behalf of the AECB, teaming up with Severn Wye Energy Agency and the STBA (Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance) – who also contributed information.
While at the time of this consultation the deleterious impact of cold living conditions on health were well known – prompting the consultation – poor indoor air quality was less discussed.
Yet of course, air quality can be very poor in cold homes: people will block out any draughts they can – including the intended fresh air supply from a ventilation fan or vent – especially if they are in fuel poverty. This only increases the risk of condensation and mould – already high in a dwelling with cold, uninsulated surfaces. And more and more evidence is piling up of just how bad mould in particular is for people’s health and wellbeing. Continue reading →
Natural ventilation often fails – but what is the evidence that mechanical ventilation succeeds? – Investigation for Passive House Plus
There have been a number of studies showing that natural ventilation, dependent as it is on random gaps in the building fabric and the vagaries of wind and weather, is not a reliable source of fresh indoor air. (see here for my article on this)
In theory, mechanical ventilation is under more control, and should work more reliably. But does the evidence bear this out? Does mechanical ventilation deliver good air quality in practice?
I looked into the research to find out whether MVHR, in particular, lived up to the ideal. Continue reading →
While there are well-established technologies to produce electricity without fossil fuels, decarbonisation of heat is struggling to get under way. Recommended strategies include expansion of low carbon networked heat and possibly the decarbonisation of gas – though these are still only happening at a scale (and with dubious carbon credentials, see PH+ Iss 15 – district heating). However, the commonest proposed means for decarbonising heat is via electrification.
Electrification of heat raises a number of questions about the ability of our power systems to produce enough low carbon electricity and their capacity to transmit it. But it also represents something of a u-turn in building services design. Continue reading →