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Welsh Passivhaus social housing could create local ‘green’ economy

Greenwise Staff
20th September 2010
Two Passivhaus social houses in Wales that have used Welsh labour and construction materials could result in the creation of new local green manufacturing plants, according to those behind the project.
The Lime House and The Larch House, designed by bere: architects and sited at The Works: Ebbw Vale, a disused steelworks, are now completed. They are certificed Passivhaus and one of them – The Larch House – is the UK’s first zero carbon Passivehaus. They feature innovative features for energy efficiency and sustainable build, including using the heat from the bodies and electrical appliances of the occupants.

Passivhaus design seeks to do away with heating and cooling by reducing heat loss to a minimum through super insulation and draught-free construction.

The two properties share classic Passivhaus features, including triple-glazed windows, a heat recovery ventilation system and a structure built in 14 weeks.

Locally-sourced materials
In line with their sustainable design, both houses use as many locally sourced materials and manufactured goods as possible.

The two-bedroomed Lime House – named after the lime render on the outside walls – follows the style of the traditional Welsh cottage and uses timber sourced from Welsh forests, including windows and a front door made of Welsh larch timber. Most of the insulation is made in Wales, and the roof tiles are from a local manufacturer. Even the solar panels are Welsh.

According to bere:architects, the closed-panel timber frame system, made by a local Welsh contractor, could result in a new manufacturing business, as could the production of the wood fibre insulation. The window frames are the only UK-produced windows so far to gain Passivhaus certification and could lead to the UK’s first specialist plant for making Passivhaus window sections.

"[The Lime House] is an example of how the UK can achieve the very best quality standards, creating demand for home-produced Welsh products and skills and show how a greener future can create a prosperous new era for people in Wales," said architect Justin Bere.

Both The Lime House and the Larch House have been developed with the United Welsh Housing Association and are the result of a competition run in association with BRE, Blaenau Gwent Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.

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Welsh Passivhaus social housing could create local ‘green’ economy
Both houses use the only UK-produced window frames so far to gain Passivhaus certifcation
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