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Unlike in many other countries throughout Europe, Passivhaus development in the UK is still at an early stage of development. We only saw our first accredited Passivhaus building completed in the Spring of this year (2009). This is a community centre/office located in Machynlleth northwest Wales designed by JWP (John Williamson Partnership) architects. Only a few years ago, a mere handful of enthusiastic architects, engineers, designers and builders had heard of Passivhaus in the UK. But in the last year the aspiration to build to Passivhaus standards has been moving into the mainstream. Whilst the term Passivhaus is coming onto the UK construction industry radar, there are still many misunderstandings about what a Passivhaus building actually is. These are accompanied by all the associated fears and questions that have been confronted in other countries during the early stages of the emergence of standard. All the same questions and more will have to be answered in English if the UK is to really begin to understand Passivhaus. There are many potential barriers to the uptake of Passivhaus design in the UK which include our general lack of understanding of energy use in buildings, poor construction and design skills cultural factors and last but not least, our regulatory framework. Partly in response to the requirements of the EPBD (European

Performance of Buildings Directive), the last few years have been a very active time for the UK Government in terms of the production of new legislation and guidance relating to energy use and the construction of our built environment. In 2006, with the introduction of the last iteration of our Building Regulations Part L, which relates to the consumption of fuel and power in our buildings, the Government announced plans to introduce a new environmental assessment method for housing called the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH). This was actually introduced in 2007 and is a tool that allows for the assessment of housing designs in relation to 6 levels of environmental performance with level 6 being the highest or ‘zero-carbon’ category. With the introduction of the CSH came the announcement of the ambitious and challenging Government targets that all new homes should be ‘zero-carbon’ by 2016, (this target is 2011 for Wales), and that all new non-domestic buildings should be ‘zerocarbon’ by 2019. Since then the UK construction industry has been debating exactly what these definitions of ‘zero-carbon’ really mean in terms of energy performance and whether they are realistically achievable, financially viable or indeed desirable is this the least cost effective way of reducing energy use and the associated CO2 emissions from buildings? In the UK, Passivhaus is represented by two organisations these are BRE and the AECB. According to research undertaken by the AECB, Passivhaus relates roughly to CSH Level 4-5 in terms of energy performance or a 44% reduction in CO2 emissions against the mandatory requirements of the Building Regulations Part L 2006, although the achievement of Passivhaus standard

It’s moving in UK

Creating a passivhaus culture Text

Liz Reason, Carine Oberweis, Henrietta Lynch

Maison et bureau à Londres Architecte: bere:architects

Contact :

AECB > BRE > CarbonLite >


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It’s moving in UK


requires a higher level of building fabric performance than would normally be associated with achieving these CSH levels. Also in contrast to CSH parameters, Passivhaus performance is measured in terms of an absoluteenergy as opposed to a CO2 alone and does not stipulate the requirement for on-site renewable energy technologies that would be associated with the higher levels of the CSH, particularly CSH Level 6. Since 2007 the AECB, funded by the Carbon Trust, has been developing CarbonLite, at the heart of which are three energy standards for building design AECB Silver, UK-Passivhaus and AECB Gold. The Gold standard meets the requirement of Passivhaus with additional renewables and the AECB Silver Standard which is designe to help industry work towards the Passivhaus standard. The standard’s aim is provide mechanisms for the UK construction industry to design reliable low energy buildings, allowing for a gradual overall move towards Passivhaus standard and beyond. The AECB launched its standards in July 2006 and a survey of members suggests that already well in excess of 200,000 m2 of homes, offices and educational and community buildings designed mostly to the AECB Silver standard, but with a significant number to the UK Passivhaus and Gold standards, are already under development. In conjunction with the tick-box mentality of the UK Code for Sustainable Homes, the UK’s energy measurement design tool for housing, which is called SAP (the Standard Assessment Procedure), must be applied for all new designs. This tool is significantly different from PHPP and was initially designed to assess energy consumption in housing

in relation to cost as opposed to aiding the design of low energy buildings. SAP projections of the energy use and CO2 for new homes potentially provide misleading answers, leading designers to believe that they have met the limits of energy efficiency for the building fabric and indicating the need to add renewable when more cost effective energy saving measures could be employed. In terms of the promotion of Passivhaus design in the UK, over the past three years, BRE have organised several trips to visit Passivhaus developments in Europe and the AECB arranged a trip to Belgium in May of this year. The AECB organized a seminar in London in November last year, at which Wolfgang Feist made his first ever Feist made his first ever presentation in the UK. Subsequently Dr. Feist was the keynote speaker at the AECB annual conference in Oxford in June, where he also gave four very popular master classes in various aspects of Passivhaus design. Currently there are several Passivhaus developments in progress in the UK, most of them individual houses or small- scale housing developments, but there are architects working to progress the design of modular pre-fabricated Passivhaus solution and refurbishment projects. Notably there is also a development of 28 Passivhaus social housing units in Sunderland, designed by Mark Siddall of Devereux architects for the Gentoo housing association. This development is due for completion at the end of 2009 and there are plans to monitor this project to assess its performance. ►

Focus House Architect: bere:architects

community centre/office located in Machynlleth north-west Wales . Architect: JWP (John Williamson Partnership)

RIBA award 2007 NHBC, British Homes Small House of the Year award 2007 Grand Design Award –Best Eco House 2007

‘A survey of members suggests that already well in excess of 200.000m² of homes, offices and educational and community buildings designed mostly to the AECB Silver standard, but with a significant number to the UK Passivhaus and Gold standards, are already under development.’ It’s moving in UK

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The first Passive House worldwide was built 18 years ago in Darmstadt, Germany. At that time, experts and politicians used to ask whether the Passive House would prove itself as a building standard. Facing the 17,500 accommodation units that have already been completed worldwide - of which around 13,000 are situated in Germany - the relevant question today is not if, but how the Passive House standard can be best applied for dwellings, public and non residential buildings and old house renovation. Among others, this favourable development can be attributed to government incentive programs, as well as to local resolutions. The most important incentive program in Germany comes from the KfW Bankengruppe, which offers nationwide encouragement and support for new construction to the Passive House standard and building refurbishments with Passive House components. In 2008 the KfW supported 1,575 Passive House dwellings – a record since the program launch in 1999 and an increase of more than 43 % compared with the previous year (1,100 dwellings). Since 1999 the KfW has supported 8,367 dwellings in Passive House Standard (source KfW). In the City of Frankfurt 1,300 domiciles are expected to be built in Passive House standard by 2013. Freiburg and Hannover have committed to the construction of municipal buildings to Passive House standard, which shows how climate protection projects can be realized at the community level.

The world of energy-efficient architecture hosted by Frankfurt/M. More than 1,200 experts from over 50 countries attended the 13th International Passive House Conference in Frankfurt/Main this year. The 16 working groups (German/English) dealt with topics such as climate protection policies, refurbishments, non residential buildings and new applications of the Passive House standard. Additionally to the conference, the Passive House exhibition - with more than 4,000 visitors in the exhibition hall - confirms that Passive Houses are not at all an exotic feature, but a building concept accessible to all people. All conference reports and speeches are available in the conference proceedings (online ordering at The next International Passive House Conference will take place on May, 28th and 29th 2010 in Dresden, Germany. Dresden belongs to the State of Saxony, which has demonstrated remarkable support for the Passive House standard through its projects and incentives. The regional bank SAB (Sächsische Aufbaubank) supports new Passive House construction with100 €/m² Energy Reference Area (according to PHPP) and refurbishment using Passive House suitable components with 130 €/m² Energy Reference Area (according to PHPP). For more information about the conference please visit the website : >

Passive House: not if, but how It’s moving in Germany



Ana Krause, PHI


Contact : Passivhaus Institut, Contact : Rheinstr. 44-46 Passivhaus Institut, Rheinstr. 44-46 Darmstadt D-64283 Darmstadt D-64283 Téléphone :+49 6151 82699-0 T: +49 6151 82699-0, Fax : +49 6151 82699-11 F: +49 6151 82699-11 Mail :


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It’s moving in Germany

Passive House Refurbishment Project reduces the annual heating energy demand by 91 %

Passive House Dwellers open their homes Before next year’s conference, Passive House residents all over the world will open their homes to visitors. From November 6th to 8th guests are invited to get a tour of the house they have chosen to visit and have questions answered by people who have collected their very own experiences. At the International Passive House Days anyone can learn more about the comforts of a Passive House. The buildings were designed by different architects using different construction methods. The “International Passive House Days” is an event organised by the IG Passivhaus Germany, and its members and partners abroad. Further information can be viewed at From September 2009 onwards, participating buildings will be listed at

The apartment building „Tevesstraße“ in Frankfurt/M., Germany, featuring typical postwar construction, was in a very bad condition. It was completely refurbished using suitable Passive House components, with a main focus on the energetic improvement of the building equipment and the reduction of thermal bridges. The energy balance for the building was projected with the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) and meteorological data was collected over several years. Due to a successful refurbishment, the annual heating energy demand of the building could be reduced by 91% from 200 kWh/(m²a) to 17 kWh/(m²a) annual heating energy demand. ■ Figures • exterior insulation and finish system, 260 mm • insulation of basement ceiling • new attic floor, wooden light-weight construction, completely insulated • passive house suitable windows (triple glazing) • decentral ventilation appliances with heat recovery •improved efficiency of the air tight layer •efficient reduction of thermal bridges •new electric and sanitary installation

Sources of Information PHI, Darmstadt, DE faktor 10, ABG Frankfurt Holding, IEA, Programme SHC

Passivhaus Institut

The Passivhaus Institut was founded 1996 by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Feist as an independent research establishment. Physicists, civil and mechanical engineers, architects, mathematicians and environmental technicians work here in the research and development of highly efficient building practices. The Passivhaus Institut offers technical support in the planning and construction of Passive Houses, as well as the development and optimization of suitable Passive-House components. It provides scientific knowledgement and quality assurance for Passive Houses through building certification as well as components certification and it is the organizer of the International Passive House Conference.

IG Passivhaus Deutschland

The IG Passivhaus Deutschland is the independent network for information, quality and training on the Passive House Standard in Germany. Its members are architects, planers, developers, researchers, building product suppliers and private house-builders. The main focus lies in supporting and spreading the Passive House Standard through knowledge transfer and exchange among planers and in spreading information amongst the public, especially through the press and building owners. These central tasks are recognised by the Passivhaus Institut and the Passivhaus Dienstleistung GmbH, who also guarantee the expertise and independence of the IG Passivhaus. It’s moving in Germany

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For two last decades, after the collapse of communism, Poland is developing quickly in all areas of live. There is also much progress in building activity, however the breakthrough in the field of energy saving architecture is not actually achieved yet. The terms “passive”, “low energy” or “sustainable” buildings are terms, that appear relatively often in polish media. There are many articles in the popular press and professional journals about these themes. The professionals can learn new sustainable technologies on conferences and seminars and several manufacturer offer different advanced technologies in the market. But the built reality seems still not to follow this trend. Not yet. There are some reasons, why it so is. However Poland belongs to the most reach countries of the former Eastern Bloc, GNI per capita remains there still significant behind west European countries. And unlike Germany or Austria, a passive house in Poland costs from experience about 30% more, than a conventional one. The construction costs by using of traditional technologies are 2-4 times cheaper there than in West Europe. But specialized passive technologies or active solar elements have the same price as in west European countries. In this way the additional costs are relatively higher and economic efficiency during the use of the buil-

ding for average house builder can not be a real stimulation for the decision to build a passive house. Another handicap is the failure of appropriate subsidies for this kind of constructions in Poland. For all that, polish architects and constructors are pretty open for new sustainable technologies and there some interesting examples of low energy and passive architecture in the country. There are only a few de facto certified passive houses in Poland. One of the first was built in Smolec by Wroclaw (arch. Lipinscy). This solid, down to earth house – like the most other examples - causes no architectural astonishments. It looks like a typical ready-build house anywhere in Europe and its vantages are rather of technical quality. Some polish architects are trying to find a new formal language for the new challenge, low energy and sustainable architecture is. A few examples of these trials stay in Pszczyna in Upper Silesia – a place being little by little a kind of Mecca for polish sustainable architecture. The CO2-SAVER house (arch. P.Kuczia) at Lake Laka by Pszczyna is the most well-known green house in Poland* | 01 |. The built form is designed to optimise the absorbance of solar energy. The dark facade of the “black box” - a three storey structure clad with charcoal coloured fibre cement panels - is warmed by the sun, reducing heat loss to the environment | 02 |. The passive and active solar energy concepts and a high standard of thermal insulation are enhanced by a ventilation plant with ther-


It’s moving in Poland

In search of being passive in Poland text

Peter "Piotr" Kuczia


Contact Arch. Peter "Piotr" Kuczia T +49 163 929 50 50 F +49 541 572 660


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It’s moving in Poland

mal recovery system. The house did not cost more than a conventional one in Poland. Cost-saving were made by the application of traditional building techniques and the use of local materials and recycled building elements. The project was supported by the DBU - German Federal Environmental Foundation. Another affordable, passive house – designed by the author - is recently being built in this region | 03 |. The “standard hOuse” in Pszczyna | 04 |designed by polish renowned architect Robert Konieczny from KWK Promes is the next example of the search for the new shape and appearance for passive building. Round form of the house makes it easily suitable to any given shape of the site, freedom in choosing a roof type makes it universal in terms of landscape conditionings, while flexibility of interior plan adopts it to needs of individual family. Besides that house is very energy efficient, most of all because its round shape. But it is also very well isolated by mineral wool. Mechanical ventilation with recuperation, heat pomp and solar panel have been also used. The creation of Konieczny has become actually an article of exportation, being built in Germany in parallel. Another polish export project is “NATURALnyDOM” house | 05 | designed by Andrzej Glab. The house has been built repeatedly in several Polish cities and in Norway as well. The houses use solar energy, every time when it is only possible. In winter the cheapest type of energy is used to complete the energy in system, namely the energy from burning biomass in the fireplace with a

03 (photo A. Glab)

07 (Image by Alek Pluta)

water coat. Electric energy is used only as addition. The total annual heating cost together with the cost of hot used water preparation is lower than in a passive house and is below 300 Euro. Upper Silesia, where these houses are located, is a relatively reach region and situated in south of Poland, it has a climat similar to Germany or Belgium. While the planner and house-builder in this part of the country can base upon west European know-how, in the north-east region of Poland it is common more much snow in the winter and no much sun there. Some of the solutions, we know from Darmstadt or Freiburg would not work there. The active solar elements would be for example often under the snow cover. There are other strategies necessary. A sample of solution for this region is the “CONSOLIDATED HOUSE” | 06 |. This house should harness the geothermal energy, its compact shape has rounded corners (reduction of geometric thermal bridges) and its skylight catch the sun shine. The snow layer over the single story house with green flat roof should work as a kind of thermal insulation in winter | 07 |. Meanwhile the passive architecture in Poland is not only limited to dwelling houses, but there are also some another building types being recently built, like a passive church in Nowy Targ or sports hall in Slomniki – both are projects of architects Pyszczek i Stelmach. ■ [1] Newsweek 11/2008

05 (photo R. Konieczny)




(Image by Alek Pluta)

"A few examples of these trials stay in Pszczyna in Upper Silesia – a place being little by little a kind of Mecca for polish sustainable architecture." It’s moving in Poland

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