Wales receives United Kingdom's first zero carbon Passive House for social housing
The first Passivhaus homes in Wales for social housing, including the UK's first zero carbon Passive House, have just been completed during summer 2010. Designed by bere:architects, the two progressive houses are the central features of Future Homes, a demonstration centre for sustainable development and construction that is part of the 2010 National Eisteddfod festival of Wales.
In 2009 bere:architects won a competition to design low cost houses which would showcase the Passivhaus concept and feature innovative measures for energy efficiency and eco excellence. The competition was a joint initiative by the United Welsh Housing Association, BRE, Blaenau Gwent Council and the Welsh Assembly Government. The houses are now complete and open for visitors at The Works; Ebbw Vale - a disused steelworks which is the site of the 2010 National Eisteddfod.
The new homes, called The Lime House and The Larch House, are ground-breaking in their approach to sustainability and energy efficiency. Sited next to each other, their energy needs are met by harvesting heat from sunshine via extensive glazing and thermal and photovoltaic panels, and by 2 using heat from the bodies and the electrical appliances of the occupants. Hardly any fossil fuel energy is used and The Larch House generates enough energy from the sun in the summer to fulfill all its energy requirements throughout the year. It is the first zero carbon Passivhaus in the UK.
In line with the sustainable agenda, both houses use locally sourced material and manufactured goods wherever possible. Both houses offer light, airy and comfortable living environments. They have been developed with the United Welsh Housing Association who would like to replicate the innovative features of these two houses in future affordable housing schemes, reducing their tenants' household energy bills and protecting people from fuel poverty. The main contractor was Pendragon and the timber frame subcontractor was Holbrook.
The ultimate aim is to create a self sufficient community at Ebbw Vale - an exemplar sustainable community for Wales. Led by BRE with the University of Wales at Cardiff and bere:architects carrying out research to help develop the vision, funding has being found for a low carbon research institute at Ebbw Vale based on the Fraunhofer institute in Germany, but with a major focus on timber technologies.
As a certified Passivhaus, The Larch House satisfies UK standards ENE 1,2 & 7, and it meets Code 6 in the Code for Sustainable Homes; this the first time that all three top standards have been reached in a single house in the UK.