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Norfolk social housing hits passive for standard costs Twelve units in Great Yarmouth deliver low energy bills and comfort for new tenants using patented timber frame system. Words: Lenny Antonelli

A new social housing development in Norfolk has achieved passive house certification — and without costing a premium. The Bradwell development in Great Yarmouth is one of the most recent passive house projects from Norwichbased Beattie Passive, a design-and-build company with its own patented timber frame system. Before starting the company, managing director Ron Beattie had worked as a carpenter, electrician and plumber, before going into property development. He says that he always built green, energy efficient housing, but he had a watershed moment on a building site six years ago. “I was standing on scaffolding looking down,” he says. “I looked down the cavity and there was no insulation. One bricklayer had not put the insulation in.” Ron says that, because of an emphasis on extras like solar panels, it was costing more than it should to build energy efficient housing. Though his developments were well insulated, seeing the uninsulated cavity made him realise the

importance of focusing on a properly insulated, airtight and fully tested building fabric over ‘green bling’. Ron read about passive house, and his interest was piqued. He went on a study trip to Belgium with leading passive house certifier Peter Warm, and also met Passive House Institute founder Wolfgang Feist. He set out to develop a build system that not just delivered passive house energy efficiency, but also improved fire safety, acoustics, buildability, cost, flood protection — and could be built anywhere. He launched Beattie Passive and its timber-frame system, which is now certified by the Passive House Institute and patented in 52 countries. The system features a continuously insulated void running through the floor, roof and walls. This void is pumped with Ecobead, and Kingspan Kooltherm phenolic board is fitted externally to improve the U-value further. The Eco-Slab ground floor system, which forms the ventilated floor void, is also insulated with Ecobead. The spec also includes a party-wall build up that delivers a U-value of 0.13, plus passive

certified Munster Joinery windows. “It is really simple to do. You follow a methodology and it works every time,” Ron says of the system. The company has now built eight certified passive houses, and has another 14 or so pending certification. This is in addition to more than 100 uncertified projects, which use the same system but don’t go through the certification process. “Every Beattie passive house is tested on structural completion for structural compliance, thermal conductivity, sound and air testing, and then certified that it is built as designed,” Ron says. At Bradwell in Great Yarmouth, Beattie Passive was brought in to develop 12 social housing units. These were the first council houses built by Great Yarmouth Council for over 25 years, and the latest in a recent string of passive projects by UK-based councils and social housing landlords, who increasingly see the ultra low energy standard as a way to cut energy bills and ensure warmth and comfort for their tenants. Four of the units here (in two semi-detached blocks)

Profile for Passive House Plus (Sustainable Building)

Passive house plus issue 11 (UK edition)  

Passive house plus issue 11 (UK edition)