A ‘REVOLUTION’ in building design – which could banish rural fuel poverty, cut family heating bills to less than £8 a month and save businesses millions of pounds in energy costs – is gathering momentum across Scotland.
The PassiveHaus system is already changing the way properties are constructed on the continent, particularly in Austria and Germany, where more than 20,000 houses, schools and offices have been built to super-energy efficient standards which can save an incredible 90 per cent in fuel bills compared to an average UK building.
“This pioneering system of designing and building was developed over 20 years ago by professor Bo Adamson and Professor Wolfgang Feist for buildings in central Europe where temperatures can regularly dip to minus 20 or minus 30 degrees Celsius,” said Richard Maxton of Ayr-based Richard Maxton Architecture, an award =winning company and one of the few firms in Scotland qualified to design PassivHaus buildings.
“Following the dramatic cold snaps over the last two winters, coupled with rocketing energy prices and increasing government legislation to crack down on carbon emissions PassivHaus technology is suddenly attracting attention.
“A passive house essentially utilises solar gains, body heat from occupants, cooking, lighting, etc and holds on to this energy within a very well insulated fabric. As a result heating demand is reduced by, on average, 90 per cent.”
According to previous studies into PassivHaus designs the heating bill for a two bedroom flat built to the correct standards should be around £50 a year while a three bedroom family house could expect to pay around £8 a month.
However, to satisfy the PassivHaus requirements the external floors, walls and roof have to be insulated to a higher standard than current building regulations demand.
“If you are building a new house this is easy to achieve. If you are renovating a property it is more difficult, but not impossible, as the designer has to pay very close attention to the existing constructions to prove compliance,” said Richard Maxton, a certified Passive House designer.
“Triple glazed PassivHaus doors and windows are routinely 250 per cent more efficient than standard double glazed doors and windows. These wonderfully engineered components however are worthless if the envelope leaks like a sieve.
“In Passive houses the building has to have an air-tight layer which limits draughts to 0.6 air changes an hour. A well designed new Passive house will easily meet this requirement. A ‘standard’ house will not, without quite a lot of work.”
In the last year alone the number of architects and designers taking courses to learn about the technology at Strathclyde University, one of the few places in the UK promoting the idea, has more than doubled while the Scottish PassivHaus Centre in Fife has reported a huge surge in interest from local councils, housing associations and private schemes.
For more information on Richard Maxton Architecture please visit www.richardmaxton.co.uk or contact Peppercorn PR on 0845 217 8757.
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