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1850’s terrace becomes UK’s first certified 'Passivhaus' retrofit

18th March 2011 Print
100 Princedale Road Exterior

Social landlord Octavia Housing’s Victorian Passivhaus has been crowned the first certified Passivhaus retrofit in the UK, cutting CO2 emmissions by 83% and saving tenants £910 per year in fuel bills.

Octavia Housing alongside engineers and builders Ryder Strategies, architects Paul Davis + Partners, energy consultants Eight Associates and consultants and project managers greentomatoenergy transformed the 1850s terraced house in a Holland Park conservation area by refurbishing it to strict Passivhaus levels. This is a German low energy building standard that requires the home, amongst other criteria, to use less than 15kWh of energy to heat it per m2 per year, compared to the UK average of 130kWh.

This means the home can be kept warm on a winter evening with just a couple of tealights. The home’s CO2 emissions and energy consumption have been cut by an estimated 83% and 94% respectively, saving the tenants an estimated £910 a year on fuel bills. The ultimate goal is to offer maximum comfort to the inhabitants and a home that is future proofed against fuel poverty.

Dr Wolfgang Feist, the founder of Passivhaus, presented the project team with the certificate on 1 March 2011. Accreditation was given by Peter Warm of WARM: Low energy building practice, one of just four Passivhaus certifiers in the country. Warm said:

"The renovation at 100 Princedale Road is a milestone in the history of thermal renovation - it has achieved the demanding “Passivhaus” standard, the leading standard for low energy building. What makes this a milestone is that this is a building in a conservation area, where external wall insulation is not generally acceptable, and that it has dealt with the difficult issues of internal wall insulation and building airtightness by an overall concept of lining the shell with a continuous box. The airtightness of the building is ten to twenty times better than most current building projects. This surely will be one of the buildings that shape how we learn to deal with our existing housing stock."

The house comes equipped with over a dozen low energy innovations including the UK’s first imitation sash triple glazed windows (required to meet the planning constraints of the conservation area), super wall insulation, ESE solar thermal panels and a heat exchanger system (MVHR) that recycles energy from waste air and water. The home has no gas boiler, radiators or conventional heating system and uses these innovations to keep the house at a comfortable temperature with a healthy air-flow all year round.

Speaking about the achievement, energy and building services manager from Octavia Housing, Lewis Lowe commented that:

"We are delighted that 100 Princedale Road, a social home built in the early Victorian period, is the first refurbished home of any age in the UK to achieve this challenging and highly regarded accreditation. The project has highlighted many new refurbishment techniques and procedures not typical in standard refurbishments and as a result it has brought the Passivhaus principles into our new build programme. This has been an opportunity by Octavia to demonstrate that even the hardest of homes to heat can be refurbished to an exemplar standard."

According to the Passivhaus Trust, which recently launched in the UK, there are only 20,000 homes, schools, offices and other buildings that have been designed, built and certified to the low energy building standard across Europe. Interest in the building method seems to be growing in the UK too with over 50 Passivhaus projects estimated to currently be in development. At the first ever UK Passivhaus Conference Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Climate Change said he ‘would like to see every new home in the UK reach the Passivhaus standard.’

Tenant Ms Bakali recently moved into the home with her three children; aged 16, 11 and 5. Over the next two years, the efficiency and comfort levels of the home can be monitored by the public via Energy readings will be collected from the home and compared to two similar homes on the same street which have been refurbished to lower levels of energy efficiency. Ms Bakali and her family will also be regularly visited to see how they are finding living in their unconventional home.

Octavia Housing have recently been given permission for a large mixed-tenure Passivhaus development in the capital, providing 30 affordable low energy homes for Londoners, completing in 2012.

Find out more about the retrofit project at:

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100 Princedale Road Exterior