UK’s first Passivhaus Retrofit
There is nothing like a visit to an inspirational house to re-energise you and remind you that you are not out there on your own trying to make a difference; and that reminder is uplifting!
I was lucky enough to meet Tom Pakenham from Green Tomato Energy yesterday for a tour of his retrofit in West London which has been awarded with Passivhaus certification.
It is actually the first retrofit in the UK to be awarded the standard.
I had read as much as I could about the house before the visit so had some idea of what had been done here and was excited to see many of the concepts that you normally just read about, working in practice.
What struck me more than anything on the visit to the house was the ‘serenity’, which I just did not expect. Where the Passivhaus standard has one of its guiding principles of designing a comfortable home in which to live, I now understand exactly what that means.
Due to the high levels f insulation and airtightness the house obviously maintains a ‘natural’ constant and comfortable temperature. You don’t get the sense of heat being generated and fed into the house to keep it warn from a particular source (eg. Like from the radiators as most of us will be familiar with)
In addition the house is also so peaceful and quite, due to the inherent soundproofing that comes from being so insulated and airtight; as if separated from the busy outside world. On a cold winter’s day in the UK I can only imagine the house must be so comfortable and such a tranquil environment to spend time in.
Tom and the team seem to be at the cutting edge of the retrofit movement, and have vast amounts of the required knowledge that go along with it. They must truly be commended on what they have achieved with this house.
The question, which is a challenging one to answer, invariably came up which is in regards to the financial costs and implications of this style of retrofit and the far more stringent focus that was required in regards to the detailing in order to comply with Passivhaus.
Clearly costing a lot more than a standard house refurbishment it quickly becomes clear that to retrofit to this standard it is only viable on a large scale refurbishment project. Tom will attest to the fact that the house was stripped back to its bare bones and there being a point when he stood at ground level of this 4 storey house and could see the sky!
What also became clearer to me seeing this house in action, was the interaction of the technologies and the importance of having the expertise and knowledge to enable this to happen efficiently.
In the house I appreciated the link between the MVHR, the additional small heat pump to help top up heating on cold days and the solar water heating, which work seamlessly together in the house to meet all the occupant’s needs. You need to remind yourself that there is no ancillary heating for the house in addition to this.
I can not remember being so excited after visiting a house for some time – this is truly what it is all about!
I look forward to when we have the opportunity to impart the same or similar impact on our guests hen we show them around our own eco house.
A huge thank you to Tom for opening up his house to us, for the patient and detailed guided tour and for the vision into the future this has given to us and other keen advocates.