German in origin, and pioneered by cultish eco warriors, the Passivhaus construction methodology was – until recently – hard to imagine in this country.
But there are now 70 Passivhaus projects in the UK, the majority springing up in the past 12 months.
Contractors and architects who have used the technology enthuse about its emphasis on preserving energy – Interserve's Richmond Hill Primary School in Leeds will use 80% less energy than a conventionally built school.
The certification system is also seen as more simple and sensible compared to other standards – one contractor recently had to fit cycle racks on a special needs school to acquire the necessary BREEAM points, even though all the children attending would be in wheelchairs.
Achieving the certification means a steep learning curve – at both design and construction stage – but it’s likely to be worth it, with clients like Camden Council now encouraging developers to adopt Passivhaus.
The technology may also have an unintentional boon to the industry. Because of the emphasis on air tightness and avoiding cold bridging, most trade contractors – even bricklayers – need to be involved from a project's outset. Could Passivhaus help to further the goals of the late ‘90s
Egan/Latham agenda – collaboration, innovation, and teamwork?