Imagine heating all your home above 16C with just a 900watt hair dryer – it is possible using the Passivhaus standard

This morning (28 March) the Construction Best Practice Club in Manchester heard a presentation by Roger Burton, an architect who has applied the Passivhaus principles to his own property.
The Passivhaus standard is probably now THE leading international standard for building a house or flats which are ultra low energy, but still comfortable to live in. These houses need no boilers, no radiators and no fires.
Roger explained the origins of the Passivhaus standard by Professor Wolfgang Feist in Germany in 1991, using basic physics to design homes which are very well insulated.
In England, Building Regulations are expected to be ‘zero carbon’ by 2019, pushed forward by EU regulations dating back to 2002. However, the UK measurement is 46 kWhr/m2.yr for most houses (39 for flats and mid-terrace houses) whereas the Passivhaus standard is 15. This lower figure, as well as substantially saving money on fuel bills, also means that house builders do not need to turn to other “allowable solutions” outside the home to bring down the carbon footprint. A Passivhaus has a much lower footprint to start with.
This leads to a heat load of less than 10 watts per square metre – a 900watt hair dryer is enough for a 90 square metre typical flat or house. Of course, the fuel bills will depend on the behaviour of the residents, but a study of 32 Passivhaus properties (the CEPHEUS project) showed an average figure in real use of 13.3 kWhr/m2.yr, reasonably within the design target of 15. The equivalent expected rate for a Passivhaus retrofit is 25, still lower than the rate for newly built homes after 2019. Details: Roger Burton, nvirohaus, Manchester.

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