Thursday, 3 December 2015

G&S Knights Place featured in Passive House Plus magazine: Warm & Healthy Flats that Need No Heating

Gale & Snowden's affordable housing scheme in Exeter, Knights Place, has been featured on the Passive House Plus (PH+) magazine website.

PH+, a bimonthly publication and website focused on Passivhaus and Passive House technology features Knights Place in an article entitled Warm and Healthy Devon Flats that Need no Heating.

Completed in 2011, Knights Place, an award-winning exemplar sustainable housing scheme that is fully accessible according to Lifetime Homes Standards, was amongst the first multi-residential certified passive houses in the UK.

The scheme was designed with low energy use throughout: the holistic passive design strategy allows the units to be operated without a conventional heating system, and at the same time avoiding overheating in summer.  The result of this is extremely low heating energy bills for tenants, tackling fuel poverty.

Gale & Snowden, with funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) / Innovate UK, revisited the scheme a year after completion and undertook a two year building performance evaluation monitoring exercise, between 2012 and 2014. 

Our previous blog post TSB Monitoring at Knights Place Proves Passivhaus Works outlines the results of the exercise and includes the full report.

During the monitoring period, several of the flats were not using any heating and the ones that were, had energy bills in line with the design predictions.  The two year study included a winter extreme and summer heat wave that exceeded the current summer weather files used as part of the overheating design assessment.  We were able to assess in detail how a super-insulated building performs during these hot extremes.   

Even in the UK climate, overheating in buildings and homes is becoming increasingly common and problematic.  It was imperative to us that we did not follow this trend.

We assessed with PHPP and dynamic thermal modelling software optimising cross flow ventilation strategies, glazing ratios, and construction mass.  Our study found that the flats perform as designed using current weather design files and that they also performed well during weather extremes, exhibiting no overheating.  This has given us even greater confidence in the design approach we take, and the design tools we use.   

In addition to their low energy credentials the buildings were also designed using Building Biology healthy design principles.  We were able to include in the study the testing and evaluation of our low electromagnetic radiation (EMR) design, daylight design and air quality.  G&S is the founding member of the Building Biology Association UK and is pleased to be able to offer healthy building surveys and consultancy services.

All the tests found the flats to be operating within their design parameters - optimum daylight levels, low EMR and excellent air quality.  In some flats we optimised the MVHR further to provide better air quality than detailed in the ventilation regulations, which is one advantage of an MVHR system.   

Through an ongoing process of evaluation and review, our experience gained in the design and subsequent monitoring of this exemplar scheme is now being used to further optimise future designs.

To view more information and images of Knights Place, visit the project profile on our website. Also take a look at other residential projects by Gale & Snowden Architects.

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates @galeandsnowden