This may be a desperately naive post, but why aren’t we building more of these? I was just watching a little item on Look North tonight about a new Passive House development of 109 homes in Sheffield. These are super-insulated family homes that require barely any energy usage for heating or cooling. This is the largest development of its type in the UK and I think there are only a few hundred Passive Houses currently built here. With energy prices so high and the need to address climate change become ever more urgent, I just wondered why we haven’t made this the minimum standard for house building over here. Is it cost? Do they require specialist materials which means we can’t scale up building? Do they require builders with very specific skills which aren’t available? Does someone have an interest in not seeing more super-energy efficient homes built?
Hopefully I have some housing expert readers who can answer this for me!
Ok, so I got some quite good feedback on the question I posed from some people on Twitter. Thanks for the responses from @, @jules_birch and @Kate_de. There was a suggestion that there is a lot of lobbying going on against the ‘red tape’ of zero carbon regulations, which is preventing an improvement in building regulations. It was also suggested that house-builders value profit more than quality which prevents change.
There were some positives though. Elrond Burrell said that the Sheffield development mentioned above, is not actually Passive House standard, but a high quality nevertheless and he seemed optimistic that we would see many more Passive House (or similar) developments over the next few years.
On cost, Kate De Selincourt referred me to two articles she has written on the issue. It seems the costs of Passive House developments has been falling, and may soon reach parity with more conventional builds, and when all the post-build savings are factored in, Passive House standard can be highly cost effective. You can read those articles here:
Kate also says that a lot of social housing providers are looking at Passive House designs for their lower maintenance costs and the fact that their lower energy costs and greater comfort lead to fewer complaints and less tenants falling into arrears. This is good to hear.
So it seems like there are a lot of positive things happening, but the politicians need to catch up and drag the big house-builders kicking and screaming along with them.