Yes, of course you need great u-values and low air permeability to make a Passivhaus. But AECB member Alan Clarke believes that Passivhaus has something far more fundamental to teach us. Reading the Zero Carbon Hub reports on zero carbon strategies, and on the performance gap, I realise that the idea of what I now think of as Passivhaus is not what other people think. As an “extreme fabric” approach to low carbon emissions, the ZCH characterises Passivhaus in its zero carbon strategies report as having U-values 0.1-0.15, air permeability <1, low thermal bridges, plus heat recovery ventilation. Not wrong, » Read More
AECB News : Soapbox
The Department of Communities and Local Government has published proposals to slash the options for housing construction standards to be set above and beyond the Building Regulations. Lined up for the executioner’s bullet are the Merton Rule, Code for Sustainable Homes, Lifetime Homes and more. In this Soapbox James Livingstone laments the threatened loss of opportunities to drive up building standards, and urges fellow AECB members to join him in lobbying government not to throw the ecological baby out with the bureacratic bathwater. I was asked to get on a soapbox on the subject of the Housing Standards Review . » Read More
Soapbox – We must change our disgraceful approach to build quality – or wave goodbye to energy savings
Three years of experience with thermographic imaging and airtesting on all kinds of buildings have led AECB member Paul Buckingham to the depressing conclusion that almost without exception, buildings in this country are shoddily assembled and fail to meet the standards set. What is worse, the prevailing ethos seems not to be ‘how well can we build?’, but ‘how quickly and cheaply can we get these boxes ticked?’ In the latest AECB soapbox, Paul shares some of his horror stories, and calls for an enforcement regime which delivers real, as opposed to imaginary, construction standards. » Read More
A feature in December’s issue of the CIBSE journal suggested that biomass boilers contribute to carbon reduction, but AECB members Sofie Pelsmakers and Kate de Selincourt take issue with this. They argue that since DECC itself now admits biomass is not always low carbon, we should also accept reality, and recognise that targets and subsidies for biomass increase emissions and undermine the drive for truly efficient buildings. THE December 2012 issue of the CIBSE journal ran an article highlighting several design and health and safety issues associated with the specification of biomass plant. The article also made it clear that » Read More
There has been a change of heart in Liverpool, and the controversial programme that was set up to sweep away the Victorian terraces of the inner city is morphing into restoration and refurbishment of empty homes – there is even a TV show championing this new approach. Yet, as Marianne Heaslip explains here, the potential to transform the energy performance while retrofitting the fabric is being almost completely missed – and with, it a huge opportunity.
The new energy company obligation is likely to lead to a substantial increase in solid wall insulation installations, particularly in social housing, and the structure of the obligation puts pressure on providers to deliver this as cheaply as possible. David White warns that this pressure, combined with lack of understanding of critical issues such as thermal bridging and ventilation, could lead to wasteful or even dangerous installations. However, if the sector takes the opportunity to share the knowledge we do have, and, crucially, to go on learning, the outlook could be a lot better. As I sit here writing this » Read More
Why we should have minimum and maximum per occupant space standards in the British Passivhaus criteria
Andrew Farr has seen too many households crammed into such small spaces they are being cooked by their appliances – while others may be consuming little energy per square metre – but so many square metres! He argues that neither situation fully meets the Passivhaus ideals of comfort and low energy consumption. This is not intended to be an academic paper where I qualify everything that I want to say by citing ten different studies. Instead I am going to write purely from personal experience, having worked in the building trades both in this country and Germany, and having in » Read More
BIM is well worth exploring says Elrond Burrell, who explains here how he and his colleagues at Architype have embraced BIM – as a key tool for innovation, collaboration and the rigorous attention to detail needed for sustainable design that really works. “BIM”, variously understood to be Building Information Model, Building Information Modelling or Building information Management, has become a buzz phrase in the UK construction industry, since last year’s Government Construction Strategy mandated fully collaborative 3D BIM as a minimum on all government projects by 2016. Before then it had been an acronym only used by early adopters in » Read More
Are we saving energy while the planet dies? Danny Lee of the Self-Sustaining Building Project argues that that saving energy is no help, if our low-energy buildings trash the planet’s ability to sustain life. In this Soapbox he makes a plea for silos to be demolished, and agendas to be widened. It now takes humanity less than nine months each year to exhaust the planet’s environmental services and this rate is shortening. This ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ is the day when human demand on the planet exceeds what it can regenerate. It means humanity has demanded all the natural services available » Read More
Neil May says that we need to grapple with macro-economics if we are to understand why building performance is so poor in the UK. ‘In the current economic climate’ – it’s a phrase used as a passport to rip up any commitment to do anything you’ve promised, because of the additional financial burden it will put on someone or some organisation in the current economic climate. It’s something we hear in the building industry in particularly in relation to green measures.