Leading councillor visits UK's first Passivhaus eco estate. The future of UK housebuilding?
Friday 17 August 2012
Coventry's leading councillor for housing has been finding out more about a pioneering eco-friendly residential scheme that is helping to fight fuel poverty.
Councillor Ed Ruane, Coventry City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, visited the social housing development at Sampson Close in Bell Green.
Local housing association Orbit Heart of England has built 23 ultra low energy homes on the site consisting of 18 apartments and five houses.
The £2.8 million development, completed in conjunction with Orbit Homes and part funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, was the first Passivhaus housing complex completed in the West Midlands.
Passivhaus or 'Passive House' is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world.
The idea is to create homes with an ideal indoor climate all year round without the need for energy-intensive heating or cooling systems.
A Passivhaus makes the most of its natural surroundings, often using large south-facing windows to maximise the sun's natural light and warmth, and fresh air for natural ventilation.
While most homes rely on burning oil, gas, wood or coal for their heating, a Passivhaus uses "passive heat".
People generate warmth every day when they cook, shower, boil the kettle or watch TV. While this heat is wasted in a standard house, a Passivhaus captures the heat from warmer areas and circulates it to the colder areas.
Councillor Ruane, who represents Henley ward close to Sampson Close, was impressed with what he saw.
He said: "Having seen this wonderful eco-friendly residential scheme today, there is no doubt in my mind that housing has to become 'centre stage' of any future Labour government, meeting the housing needs of the people."
"Housebuilding under this Tory-led government has plummeted and it is our duty as a Labour controlled authority to do all we can to stimulate the housing market here in Coventry by being bold and innovative."
"The PassivHaus flatpack was imported from Germany, which is not sustainable if we are to develop this further, so we must start manufacturing them here in the UK if this type of housing is to grow, I shall be writing to Grant Shapps MP, Housing Minister and Vince Cable MP, Business Secretary to demand that funding is provided to get this off the ground so we have a manufacturing base here in the UK and even better right here in Coventry."
"It is estimated that through this system, heating a two bedroom flat costs just £2 a week during winter which is an amazing figure.
"In the current economic climate where fuel poverty is a real and increasing issue, there are lessons we can learn from this unique scheme.
"Essentially the idea behind Passivhaus is simple but can make a massive difference in helping to save residents money on their home running costs."
Victoria Johnstone, part of the Sustainable Investment Team at Orbit Heart of England, said the development was the first of it kind.
"Sampson Close is the UK's largest Passivhaus development and illustrates Orbit's commitment to tackle fuel poverty.
"This is a back-to-basics approach, looking at energy loss and making a building thermally efficient so that whatever energy is generated is being used efficiently and saves money for our residents."