Passivhoos Launch

John Gilbert Architects has launched a new service providing affordable Passivhaus-standard social housing.

With contractors Stewart & Shields, JGA has developed Passivhoos – homes designed specifically for Scottish social housing providers that meet international Passivhaus standards and Scottish Government budget benchmarks.

Passivhoos aims to eradicate fuel poverty, reduce rent arrears and offer high level of resident comfort and satisfaction.

John Gilbert Architects Director Matt Bridgestock said: “We’ve developed Passivhaus homes that are affordable and can be produced on a larger scale for social housing, bringing the benefits to a wider market and for those who need it most.”

“Our collaboration with Stewart & Shields has enabled us to work rigorously on the affordability and with our supply chain, we can offer designs on a fixed budget which fall within the Scottish Government housing association benchmark.”

Stewart and Shields Director Mark Shields said: “Stewart and Shields Ltd has enthusiastically adhered to the building criteria demanded by Passivhaus standards for a long time.”

“From our early involvement in projects such as A’Chrannag in Rothesay for Fyne Homes, which in 2004 was regarded as one of the most energy-efficient buildings in Europe, to current our current work with Shettleston Housing Association on Old Carntyne Church. This partnership with John Gilbert Architects introduces a level of Passivhaus construction processes to a 19th century church while constructing fully Passivhaus-compliant flats in a new extension alongside.”

“We believe that now is the time to reduce the economic disparity between conventional building methods and the future needs of the built environment. Our direction and training programmes are focused on achieving this essential goal in a sustainable manner. Our collaboration with John Gilbert Architects is on target to achieve this through the exciting and innovative Passivhoos concept.”

For further information and Passivhoos costed proposals

The benefits of Passivhaus construction for social housing landlords

Passivhaus buildings provide a high level of occupant comfort, whilst using very little energy for heating and cooling. They are built with meticulous attention to detail, rigorous design and construction according to principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany, and can be certified through an exacting quality assurance process. They generally need 90% less energy for heating and hot water than standard buildings and have very low running costs.

Passivhaus standard takes a ‘fabric first’ approach, a sustainable architecture should not be reliant on technological add-ons such as solar panels and wind turbines alone. If the fabric of a building is not sufficient, then any energy gains generated by such technologies will merely offset the losses of the building’s overall inefficiencies. Elsewhere in the UK, Passivhaus social housing has eliminated fuel poverty and reduced rent arrears.

Passivhaus buildings need to be designed to capture the right amount of sun throughout the year. As a consequence of these relatively simple concepts that the building retains heat from activities such as cooking, using computers or showering, it uses this to heat the building and does not need a traditional central heating system. There are over 20,000 completed Passivhaus projects, mainly in Germany and Austria.

The following are key characteristics of Passivhaus buildings:

  • super insulation – lowering energy bills and improving the comfort for occupants, 300mm insulation is typical in walls
  • excellent mechanical ventilation with up to 94% of the heat recovered – provide the ventilation for the building providing high levels of warm, fresh air
  • triple-glazed opening windows – designed to catch the suns warmth, lower energy use and improve the comfort of occupants
  • airtightness – reduce energy loss through draughts and increase the comfort for residents
  • solar gain – both for heating the house and using solar panels to heat hot water.