certified ’passivhaus’, fife

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project details

Geum Ltd / Passivhaus Associates

c. £165k

Sept 2008 (Design) – Oct 2011 (Completion)


Locate and Graham Drummond of Passivhaus Associates have together developed plans for what we hope will be the first of several certified ‘Passivhaus’ developments. Restricted by a very tight and sloping site, the project has nonetheless now been completed on time and budget (October 2011) and the final certification process commenced by Warm Associates in Plymouth who are our chosen Certifiers.

The building is extremely well insulated with 'U' values generally of around 0.08 W/m2K, and installed 'U' values of 0.85 W/m2K for the windows which feature different glazing between North and South elevations to optimise performance. The final air pressure test confirmed an airtightness of 0.28 air changes per hour, well within the 0.6 ach required for the standard and 25 times better than the current building regulations. Heat loss from exhausting air is recovered via a high performance heat recovery unit. As a result, there is almost no heat loss and on most days, the building can be kept warm with the sun shining and the warmth of occupants themselves, cooking, showering etc. Even on the coldest days, when there is no sunshine, the whole house can be kept warm with 800w, or less than a single bar heater. There is no (need for a) central heating system, any additional heat needed can be provided by a couple of panel heaters or a small heater attached to the ventilation system. Space and Water heating bills combined are predicted to be around £200/year, inclusive of charges and VAT.

Whilst there are huge benefits in terms of energy efficiency and the environment, the main driver for much of this is comfort. The house will be extremely comfortable to occupy, with no draughts, no down draughts from windows, and a gentle warmth, based as much on warm surfaces as it is on air temperature, which is much more pleasant than the warm air / cold surfaces which typify most buildings. There is much pleasure to be gained too, from the almost instant warmth that you feel when the sun comes out!

Whilst a great deal of attention has been paid to the energy side of things, we have also taken trouble to ensure that the building is largely one made of natural materials, the whole timber frame is of untreated timber, and we have avoided many of the worst materials in terms of toxicity and risks to human health.

The process of designing and ensuring compliance with the international passivhaus standard has been demanding, even without the build process! However, we are now there, and the building is currently used as our showhome and may be available for rent from 2012. If you are interested, please contact Graham Drummond, via the Passivhaus Associates website.

View of the completed building

Internal view looking towards the front of the house