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How can we build greener & better buildings? Reporting back from Passivhaus conference November 2015

The Bristol Green Capital Partnership Place Group organised an event entitled “How can we build greener and better buildings: the case for Passivhaus development” on the afternoon of 17 November 2015.

The event was attended by over 100 delegates including local authorities, housing associations, architects, contractors, engineers, developers and a few members of the general public.

phThe nine speakers were Piers Sadler of the Place Group and Piers Sadler Consulting, Tom Dollard of Pollard Thomas Edwards, Ben Binns of NPS Group, Emma Osmundsen of Exeter City Council, Jonathan Hines of Architype, John Lefever of Hastoe Housing, Martyn Pursey of Bristol City Council, Colin Powell of gcp Chartered Architects and Adam Dadeby of the Passivhaus Store. The event was introduced by Robert Narracott of the Place Group and Noma Architects and ably chaired by Bill Gething of UWE. The audience were treated to a wide variety of case studies including Exeter’s new ambitious Passivhaus leisure centre and swimming pool, Passivhaus schools, public and private housing and retrofitting as well as participating in some lively discussion.

The full agenda and presentations from the speakers have been made available and can be downloaded here.

The event was introduced by Robert Narracott of the Place Group and Noma Architects and ably chaired by Bill Gething of UWE. The audience were treated to a wide variety of case studies including Exeter’s new Passivhaus leisure centre and swimming pool, Passivhaus schools, public and private housing and retrofitting as well as participating in some lively discussion.

Some key messages from the presentations and discussion were as follows

  • Passivhaus is based on sound building physics, attention to detail and quality assurance and has proven results
  • Passivhaus eliminates the energy performance gap which is ubiquitous in the general building stock
  • Passivhaus buildings are cheap to run, healthy and comfortable
  • Passivhaus whole life costs are less than typical new build
  • Passivhaus buildings can be built at costs on a par with typical new builds by designing out other expensive elements – cost is about priorities – keep it simple!
  • contractors and their supply chains need to develop and change their practices to deliver true low energy buildings
  • BUT this is achievable even at scale where there is a will
  • Passivhaus ‘kills 99% of rent arrears’ in social housing due to absence of fuel poverty
  • Passivhaus buildings are being sold for +10% compared to typical market value – RICS needs to educate so that this is recognised
  • once you’ve lived in a Passivhaus you won’t want to go back

“We have considerable experience designing and delivering Passivhaus, but it was very interesting to hear from the client, council and housing developer perspectives.”

“[The event] has inspired me to keep pushing for Passivhaus on all projects.”

The purpose of the conference was to promote the benefits of Passivhaus in the Bristol area, so we were delighted to hear from Martyn Pursey about Bristol City Council’s plans to build Passivhaus social housing in Bristol.  Can Bristol follow the examples set by Norwich and Exeter and become a centre for truly sustainable buildings which perform as they were designed too?

Folowing the conference we plan to set up a permanent platform for promotion of Passivhaus in the West of England – anyone interested in getting involved should contact Piers Sadler (piers@piers-sadler.co.uk).

Thanks are due to our sponsors, Arup for providing the venue, Halsall and Green Building Store as well as the organising committee of Rose Furnival, Cleo Newcombe-Jones, Cerianne Thorneycroft, Robert Narracott and Piers Sadler with support from Bristol Green Capital Partnership and Love the Future.

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