First UK homes meet German eco-standard
Sunderland-based housing association Gentoo is planning to build the first houses in the UK to meet a highly energy efficient German eco-standard.
Thousands of Passivhaus houses have been built in Germany since the technique was introduced in 1996. So far, no British houses have got the certification but Gentoo is hoping to build 25 bungalows to the standard this year.
Allan Thompson, director of development at Gentoo, said that the design has been adapted to suit the UK. ‘We’re converting it into a UK aesthetic – it is a bit space age and avant garde. It has to be connected and part of the vernacular,’ he said.
The bungalows will be built for older residents on the Racecourse Estate in Tyne and Wear. Innovative construction methods should cut carbon emissions by 80 per and energy consumption by 85 per cent, compared with a typical home. It should hit level four of the code for sustainable homes, according to Mr Thompson. The team is aspiring to level five but without sustainable drainage and water harvesting, it might not hit the necessary standard.
The Passivhaus standard concentrates on air-tightness and insulation. Passive heating from the sun cuts energy use to almost zero, while the small amount of heating needed is incorporated into a mechanical ventilation system. That system changes the air and recovers waste heat to pump it back into the house. To get certification, Passivhaus buildings have to hit difficult construction targets at every stage of a development. Gentoo is working with the Building Research Establishment to get accreditation.
Planning officers at Sunderland council have said they are keen encourage such buildings. Case officer Jamie Reed said: ‘We welcome such an innovative housing scheme in the city, which will set a fine example for future developments to aspire to.’