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Passivhaus: The dos and don’ts

[UK PASSIVHAUS CONFERENCE] Six Passivhaus experts discuss what they would and wouldn’t do again

At the UK Passivhaus Conference held yesterday (15 October) in Milton Keynes, six leading figures who have completed projects in both the UK and abroad were aked what they would and wouldn’t do again.

Dieter Herz, Herz & Lang

Don’t believe the client when they say Passivhaus is unaffordable.

John Lefever, Hastoe Housing

We [the client] would retain the architect and not novate them over to the contractor. As a client it is important not to lose the contact between ourselves and the architect, especially when doing something new, like Passivhaus.

Sally Godber, WARM

It is important to understand a client’s priorities. It is very easy to think that Passivhaus is their number one priority. But we are learning to really think about where it sits in their priority list.

Talking to planners in much more detail is something which we have learnt is very important. There is a hassle factor around energy standards associated with planning. We’re now working with planners to take what we have learnt from our own projects and develop plans to apply this nationally.

Bill Butcher, Green Building Store

Don’t rush into projects too quickly - learn to say no to clients. We need longer lead times to optimise junctions and materials and to make Passivhaus more affordable.

But the big positive is that there is no way back after you have done one Passivhaus.

Mark Elton, SustainableBYdesign

I wouldn’t graduate as a certified Passivhaus designer at the beginning of a recession. It can be very frustrating trying to get projects off the drawing board and actually into construction.

The best thing about Passivhaus is the community. Everyone is so willing to share and learn from each other. This doesn’t exist in mainstream architecture.

Lucelia Rodriguez, University of Nottingham

The Nottingham House which we built as part of the Solar Decathlon was too overcomplicated. We were aiming for both Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 and Passivhaus on a difficult site. We didn’t achieve the air tightness levels for Passivhaus certification. The design should have been simpler. But the project’s aim was to give students first hand experience of Passivhaus construction. It did really work for educating them. It was a great learning experience.

Passivhaus AJBL

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