Designing for a Low Carbon Future

Every building project has an impact on the environment

This happens locally, through its impact on townscapes or countryside; regionally, through the sourcing, manufacture and transport of building materials, labour and water; or globally, through the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on our warming planet.

Bedales School BREEAM

A LOW-ENERGY MINDSET

With careful forethought and design, it is possible to mitigate the worst of a building’s impact and have a net positive benefit in terms of occupant health and well-being. We seek to position sustainability issues at the centre of the design brief, all of our projects undergoing a checklist procedure to ensure that the best environmental practices are embedded in our schemes from the outset.

For multi-residential or commercial projects, our clients are often required to meet industry benchmarks on sustainability for planning or marketing reasons. The BREEAM rating (or Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the world’s longest-established method of certifying the sustainability of buildings, often recognised by Local Authorities and the industry as the leading benchmark of holistic sustainability. Buildings are ranked by approved BREEAM Assessors under the headings of energy use, health and well-being, transport impacts, water conservation, materials, waste and so on.

PASSIVHAUS DESIGN

Critics have long argued that conventional sustainability ratings do not necessarily deliver buildings that are truly low energy, high comfort environments, citing the so-called ‘performance gap’ between design and operation. For many, the answer is Passivhaus design, quite simply the most rigorous, best researched and most successful low energy design and quality assurance standard for buildings there is. Buildings that are independently certified as having achieved the Passivhaus standard are ensured to provide internal comfort standards that are of the highest standard in terms of health and air quality, for the absolute minimum expenditure of energy and fuel costs.

Passivhaus design is not only applicable for residential uses – it has been successfully used in the UK to deliver schools, university departments, offices and community centres. Through Passivhaus design techniques and technologies, these buildings use up to 80% less heating energy, with high internal air quality free of pollutants or dust and internal temperatures that never drop below comfortable with only the minimum of heat input.

Passivhaus is quite simply is the most rigorous, best researched and most successful low energy design and quality assurance standard for buildings there is. Buildings that are independently certified as having achieved the Passivhaus standard are ensured to provide internal comfort standards that are of the highest standard in terms of warmth and air quality, for the absolute minimum expenditure of energy and fuel costs – who wouldn’t want to live in a place with those credentials?

Passivhaus design focuses on the absolute energy performance of a building through key design parameters:

    • the use of efficient building forms with high insulation levels,
    • the meticulous specification and location of windows and doors to take advantage of free solar gains
    • the detailed consideration of air leakage reduction and thermal bridge-free construction
    • the installation of only the quietest, most energy-saving heat recovery ventilation systems
    • the elimination of overheating risks through shading and natural venting
    • inspection during the construction phase to confirm that all the above measures have been installed to the highest standard.

All these conditions are checked for compliance in advance through the use of the specialist design tools, designPH and the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP). Certified Passivhaus designers use this software to input data on local climate, thermal performance for wall, floor and roof constructions, ventilation design efficiency, fuel sources and internal heat gains – a 3D model of the building can also be used to test the impact of form, shading and window opening sizes and positions.

Passivhaus Design

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