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EXPLORING CURRENT THINKING ON PASSIVHAUS INDUSTRY SURVEY


Exploring Current Thinking on Passivhaus


O


fficially launched in 1990 in Darmstadt, Germany, Passivhaus is now well-established among the


UK design community, and many architects have embraced the low-energy design concept. The question is, with our looming UK climate targets, are clients and the wider construction industry ready and willing to deliver this ‘gold standard’ of low carbon buildings across the board? Passivhaus buildings achieve around a 90 per cent reduction in space heating needs thanks to a combination of high insulation and air-tightness levels, and ‘passive’ design – compact buildings orientated to maximise solar gain. As we face the Government’s statutory goal of ‘net zero carbon’ (against 1990 levels), clients and contractors are increasingly more focused on employing recognised, effective strategies to reduce buildings’ carbon emissions. Buildings (including their operational phase) are


thought to produce 45 per cent of the country’s total carbon emissions (27 per cent from domestic buildings).


The Government has recently committed to an earlier target of 2035 for a reduction of 78 per cent (against 1990 carbon emissions), to help move us along the road to zero in 2050. It is claiming to have gone the furthest of any Government in terms of the legal requirement for such a target. However, what are the ‘deliverables’ for achieving these goals? Despite its large claims, Government is hesitant to propose solutions. However the industry has begun to provide the answers, including by showing that Passivhaus is certainly one of most important demonstrable – and widely applicable – ways forward, as the results of our new survey, conducted with Edge Insight, show.


Clients and contractors still drive procurement, but are they embracing the


comprehensive approach offered by Passivhaus to make the reductions that will help make the difference on climate change? We asked architects about their experience of Passivhaus, and the results highlight a range of barriers to takeup. Some of these are about misconceptions as to what Passivhaus does, and does not require, and the resulting changes it means for building design. Conversely, the survey reveals benefits that engaging in Passivhaus can bring about in terms of architects’ professional standing.


Having expanded into a refurbishment version, (EnerPhit), and Passivhaus Plus, for projects exporting energy to the grid, and the ultimate efficiency standard, Passivhaus Premium, Passivhaus covers the bases on sustainable certification. The Future Homes Standard 2025, which admittedly raises the bar considerably, doesn’t approach such levels.


25


“What do you see as the main reasons for slow Passivhaus adoption in the UK?”


ADF MAY 2021


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