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Passivhaus Versus BREEAM

2016-06-07 13:00:00 +0100 by Miriam Heale

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It is probably unfair to compare Passivhaus building principles with the UK standard for energy efficiency BREEAM, but more and more we are speaking with energy management professionals who believe that BREEAM should make way for the more 360 degree approach that Passivhaus construction offers.

BREEAM, along with the Code for Sustainable Homes were designed as ‘top down’ political initiatives which focused on a broad range of environmental issues, including the reduction of water usage and waste, but also most significantly ‘zero-carbon’ building targets. 

Critics argue that BREEAM and Code work on a tick box structure of offsetting carbon, rather than reducing actual energy consumption and that higher levels of certification can be reached by spending more on additional features, such as; harvesting rainwater or using greywater recycling even when this increases carbon emissions or is sustainably questionable.

Passivhaus on the other hand is more of a ‘bottom up’ initiative designed by building scientists seeking effective ways to design low-energy buildings and ensure that they perform as predicted.  Passivhaus integrates energy efficiency into the fabric of the building, allowing the structure to do all the hard work and therefore affords more sustainable integrity.

“We are still seeing plenty of BREEAM roles with the energy management recruitment sector, however if I were looking into the future, I would predict that we will see a significant increase the Passivhaus approach, and with that an increase in sustainable building design skills.”
Alex Carroll-Adams, Team Leader Building & Energy Services at ALLEN & YORK.

Last week saw the one of the most northerly certified Passivhaus projects in the UK, with a Scottish Highland development, Tigh na Croit, designed by HLM Architects announced as finalist in 2016 UK Passivhaus Awards.  Over 37,000 buildings have been designed, built and tested to this Passivhaus standards worldwide, this is set to grow as sustainable design becomes more the norm throughout global infrastructure projects.

The winner of the 2016 UK Passivhaus Awards is due to be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 7th July.

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