Passivhaus     |     Zero Carbon     |     BREEAM     |     Code for Sustainable Homes

Passivhaus     |     Zero Carbon     |     
BREEAM     |     Code for Sustainable Homes

Sustainable Building

We apply our expertise in sustainable design to create delightful and durable buildings that work well both for our clients that inhabit them and for the world around them. We design these buildings to be energy efficient and environmentally considerate. By understanding and employing the science behind creating comfortable and sustainable buildings we can help our clients choose between the many options open to them within their own sustainable budget.

How to Build Sustainably

Design and build delightful and durable buildings that require as little energy as possible to operate, using locally sourced natural and renewable materials wherever positively practicable.
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A building’s fabric and any alterations to it should reduce your reliance on external energy and resources; should improve comfort and quality and reduce costs. In practical terms a design needs to take into account the siting and orientation of a building and particularly its windows, the materials it is built from and its affordability. In practice this means lots of insulation, leak free construction, good quality glazing with larger south facing windows and controlled ventilation.

We consistently design buildings to a better standard than current Building Regulations demand, for sound practical and economic reasons, for greater comfort in use and lower lifetime costs; and for those clients committed to making big energy savings we can design to Passivhaus principles or to Certified Passivhaus Standards.

Why Does it Matter

We need to preserve our planet’s finite resources and reduce pollution. For most of us, involvement in a building project would represent our biggest single opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable way of life for us all.
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Did you know that UK buildings use over 45% of our overall energy and produce CO2 to match? That contrasts with around 30% from transport and around 20% from industry/agriculture. That means that by improving our buildings we can have a significant positive impact on reducing energy consumption and CO2 production.

How Does it Help Me?

Once built, your sustainable project will deliver a lifetime of energy savings. It will also provide a very comfortable and healthy environment to live in.
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Building a sustainable project may cost more initially, but the payback can be quick and the long term savings significant. A sustainable building should be comfortable: an even temperature throughout the year, it should be well ventilated and enjoy plentiful daylight. Draughts, mould, condensation and high energy bills become a thing of the past.

Sustainable Building Standards

Building Regulations set the required minimum standards for energy conservation. Other organisations have schemes which define more onerous standards for achieving sustainable buildings.  See below for more information on Passivhaus, Zero Carbon, BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes.

What is Passivhaus? (it’s not just for houses …. )

Passivhaus principles are used by us to deliver healthy, comfortable buildings that perform efficiently, look beautiful and are affordable. Energy bills are reduced by about 75% today and with rising fuel bills provide better future financial security. These principles can be applied to new and existing buildings alike. Passivhaus does not rely on a point scoring system where a building’s poorer performance can be mitigated by using other eco features from solar panels to bike racks.

Certification brings a further level of reassurance: A fully certified Passivhaus building has been designed to the standards set out by the Passivhaus Institute and the design and construction has been monitored and tested along the way to ensure that the finished building performs as well as intended. Passivhaus certification holds designers and builders accountable.

Amanda at our office trained with AECB Carbonlite and is a Certified Passivhaus Designer.  She can advise you on how to build to Passivhaus standards.

The Principles of Passivhaus Building

  • very high levels of insulation
  • extremely high performance windows with insulated frames and shading to prevent excessive solar gain
  • airtight building fabric – no draughts
  • ‘thermal bridge free’ construction – no cold spots
  • a ventilation system with heat recovery
    • very high levels of insulation
    • extremely high performance windows with insulated frames and shading to prevent excessive solar gain
  • airtight building fabric – no draughts
  • ‘thermal bridge free’ construction – no cold spots
  • a ventilation system with heat recovery
Learn more from the Passivhaus Trust

What is Zero Carbon?

Zero Carbon Building has similar principles to Passivhaus but with less insistence on the quality of the building envelope and a greater reliance on renewable energy systems.

  1. It needs to be highly insulated and to be built to good enough standards of air-tightness
  2. It needs to make best use of its incidental heat gains from the sun, its occupants and their appliances
  3. It needs to generate sufficient energy (powered by solar, wind, hydro etc) to balance its own and its occupants’ consumption

What is BREEAM?

“…Assessments are carried out by independent, licensed assessors, and developments rated and certified on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding. BREEAM measures sustainable value in a series of categories, ranging from energy to ecology. Each of these categories addresses the most influential factors, including low impact design and carbon emissions reduction; design durability and resilience; adaption to climate change; and ecological value and biodiversity protection. Within every category, developments score points – called credits – for achieving targets, and their final total determines their rating” Learn more from the BREEAM website

What is the Code for Sustainable Homes?

The Code for Sustainable Homes was a UK Government standard for new house building, launched in 2007, it is an environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes. It has been scrapped by the government but some councils have still required compliance as a condition of planning approval. More information is available on the UK Government planning portal archive.

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