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34 PROJECT REPORT: ICF BUILD


Considering the design’s strong focus on energy efficiency, the properties’ look doesn’t scream ‘typical eco-houses’


Passive approach


The plan in creating a very thermally efficient and airtight build, assisted by the ICF, was “never to aim for Passivhaus standards,” says Hall, “but to get as near as possible.” Although the goal was to create a pair of sustainable homes, true passive design was not within their budget, and an MVHR ventilation system, which would have been required to meet Passivhaus air-tightness standards, wasn’t feasible. Hall comments: “In an ideal world, we would have met all standards, but sadly in this case it was a bridge too far on the cost side.” Instead, the design uses trickle vents within a whole-house ventilation system whereby in moisture- or heat-heavy rooms such as kitchen and bathrooms, a sensor activates so that the air is removed and replaced as needed. As well as rooflights, solar PVs have been included on the flat roofs to the rear. The panels are currently making enough electricity to export some back to the grid. “Not a huge amount,” admits Hall, “but it helps.” He believes that the PVs will have paid for themselves in around six or seven years.


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The two buildings have achieved an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of 88 per cent – three points off an A. To help achieve the construction efficiency standards they were aspiring to, Rik and Matt hired a specialist air-tightness consultant. Rik comments: ”The crux of the performance relies on the penetrations of the envelope being properly sealed. This is most crucial where drainage and services come into the building.”


Design & layout Considering the design’s strong focus on energy efficiency, the properties’ look doesn’t scream ‘typical eco-houses.’ In fact, their design incorporates some traditional elements, proportions and well considered detailing, all helping to create an attractive result.


Johnson and Hall wanted their build to fit harmoniously within the streetscape, and took design cues from neighbouring dwellings. The pair of houses have similar ridge heights and Edwardian-proportioned windows of their nearby counterparts. Hall explains the careful approach: “It is a well-considered Edwardian aesthetic, minus the bricks.” He adds: “If you’re going to do


ADF JUNE 2021


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