Source: Homes & Property, 02/05/12
Posted on 26 MAY 2012
The Greenhauses, near Brook Green in west London, a development from Octavia Living...
Source: Homes & Property, 23/05/12
Posted on 23 MAY 2012
The UK’s first “greenhauses” - highly efficient German-designed homes said to slash utility bills by 90 per cent, have been unveiled in west London.
Posted on 1 MAR 2012
Showhouse (March 2012) recently featured The Greenhauses in an articulate discussion about how the standards maintained for Passivhaus outweigh those of Active House
Eco living: the rise of the passivhaus
Source: The Telegraph, 05/06/12
Posted on 5 JUN 2012
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the programme Grand Designs, watching, like a street urchin with nose pressed against the baker shop window, as lucky home pioneers oversee the installation of their clean-lined, snug new “passivhaus”. While Kevin McCloud nods approvingly and owners talk about “air-tightness”, “super-insulation” and that it only takes the heat from 10 tea-lights to warm the house up, I always sit there, shivering under a blanket in my draughty living room, green with envy.
The urgency of reducing our heating and electricity requirements hit home earlier this spring with a warning that domestic fuel bills could increase by £200 a year to pay for the new generation of nuclear power planned in the draft energy bill. However, I have just seen the future: homes at prices ordinary people can afford but with fuel costs less than 10 per cent of those in a conventional house. I am at one of the largest passivhaus developments in the country: 30 units comprising privately owned, affordable and social housing in a quiet street, just minutes away from Brook Green in west London. When it is completed at the end of the year, it will be England’s largest passivhaus project. Early next year it will be overtaken by a 55-unit development in north London, with larger projects planned for the near future as increasing numbers of these super-insulated homes are built.
Passivhaus is a design movement that started in Germany and Austria. Comprising a super-insulated shell, it means that homes need little or no additional heating other than that supplied by the occupants. The project manager of the Brook Green development, David Callachan of Octavia, shows me a cross section of one of the walls: it is pretty exciting. There are eight layers, including brick, air gaps, insulated wood panels, air-tightness membrane and plasterboard. At 44cm thick, it’s like a massive club sandwich. The layers represent a revolution for home owners in terms of their reliance on heating, and their bills could be £160 a year compared to the average £1,600 a year for a three-bedroom home. It is apt that this development is the work of Octavia, as the organisation was founded by renowned social reformer, and founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, who died a century ago in 1912. Her enlightened campaigns to improve housing standards brought about a revolution in the way homes for the less well-off were built. Believing in “pure earth, clean air, blue sky”, she was the original “Green”. Until now, only the super-rich, or those on the lowest incomes in social housing, have been able to occupy a passivhaus, but we “squeezed middle” will soon have that opportunity, too. According to the Passivhaus Trust, the number of passivhaus homes being built each year in the UK has increased from two or three five years ago to 60 in 2011 . “While it is true that until recently the only passivhaus homes being built were expensive 'one-offs’, that picture is very different today,” says Melissa Taylor, a technical associate with the Passivhaus Trust. As the workforce familiarises itself with the stringent construction demands of the passivhaus technique (the building “envelope” must not be punctured, to ensure air tightness), costs will fall more. Jonathan Hines, of architects Architype, is involved in a project called “Archihaus” to bring affordable passivhaus homes to rural Herefordshire, where average incomes are low. “We have already built three passivhaus schools, and demonstrated that super-insulated buildings don’t have to cost any more than conventional ones,” he says. “We are planning a number of significant projects around rural villages which will mean passivhaus homes will be affordable for all.” The Octavia passivhaus homes will be available under the shared ownership scheme (for households with income under £60,000), with prices from £392,000 for a two-bedroom unit. Private mews houses start at £750,000