on passivhaus challenges

Su Butcher  has posted an excellent and very useful comment on PassivHaus  being about saving energy over on her blog, Just Practicing.  I did comment there in brief but here is a more detailed response.

Relationship with Code 6 and Carbon Definition  As was reported from the Zero Hub consultation Passiv Haus is the aspirational target of the UK zero carbon definition, not only for domestic but for a wider scope of building.  

Challenges  The PassivHaus challenges are not just within in design. (With all the eco-kit, materials, knowledge and lessons from PassivHaus in use out there, the ‘design’ of passivhaus is now arguably just a process to repeat)

Challenges lie, in my view, in three areas:

Construction. Construction of PassivHaus will require a far higher level of quality and fit than we are used to (at least in the UK) .  Research at Leeds Met is showing that the retro investigation and remedial work to fix or improve on failed air tightness tests can be prohibitively expensive and may well become commonplace.

I am excited and impressed that one of my clients, a Lancashire house building contractor are building /eco- refurbing one of their own properties to learn and understand the new issues involved in PassivHaus  (they are also doing the same to CSH6  + I hope to get a case study together soon)

End Users – the challenge here is to engage with the hearts and minds of potential PassivHaus dwellers. Ask anyone (esp with a family) if they would want to live in a PH and most often the response would be no.  And that is on the house ‘image’ – there is also the life style of living in a sealed box with minimal user ventilation that needs addressing.  This may apply to all modern eco-homes in what Greer refers to unforgivingly vertical houses not being designed for practical family life. (And does anyone else have the Peter Seger song Little Boxes playing in the mind when looking at / reviewing / visiting modern new eco homes?)

Existing Stock – Here the challenge is to move the PassivHaus  debate and design considerations away from new build home to PassivHaus eco renewal, and away from just homes to commercial, industrial and public buildings. 

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