Friday, 19 December 2014

Big Step forward for Passivhaus Development in Kirklees

The Denby Dale Passivhaus
This weeks Kirklees Cabinet meeting had an agenda item on disposals of some of the Council's land and property. This is becoming increasingly important to the council as a way of raising much needed cash in an increasingly cash strapped public sector. One site that came up was at Plane Street in Newsome. this was the former Stile Common Infants School site. The infants merged with Stile Common Junior School and became Hillside Primary a school built to the one of the highest environmental specifications in the UK.

At the meeting I asked that a condition be placed on the land that any properties built there would be to Passivhaus standards. Passivhaus homes have very low energy demand due to their high levels of insulation, airtightness and controlled ventilation. The average UK household fuel bill is £1236 per year. Passivhaus homes typically have energy bills much less than £100 per year. That is over a thousand pounds each year not going to energy companies and generally being spent in the local economy. For the Plane Street site, where 24 homes are indicated that would be over £30,000 every year with the value of that saving rising as energy prices rise, as they inevitably will. The Cabinet agreed subject to a report on the implications of this policy.

We are fortunate in Huddersfield to have local expertise and skills in passivhaus build and design. The Green Building Store have pioneered groundbreaking developments such as the Denby Dale Passivhaus and retrofit projects such as the CR8 Barn at Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts Stirley Farm in Newsome. I bumped into the owner of the Denby Dale Passivhaus on the train last week and when I asked him how much he was paying on his fuel bills he beamed and said 'I'm £20 up!' Very low energy demand plus his solar panels mean his home is a net contributor in energy terms. The Green Building Store are open with their expertise and have detailed case studies on their work.

The Passivhaus project at Plane Street would be a good thing to do in itself, but could become a blueprint for the specification Kirklees give for homes built on land it owns or as a condition for land it sells. It could become a key element of the long awaited Kirklees Local Plan.

The UK Government is lowering the ambition of so called 'Zero Carbon Homes' due to be introduced into Building Regulations in 2016. No longer will Zero Carbon Homes do 'what it says on the tin'. With this in mind it would be ironic indeed if Kirklees set higher environmental standards for building than the UK Government. My hope would be that our actions locally will have a national impact and make people ask why we can have better higher spec Passivhaus properties. Elsewhere in the UK the lowest common denominator of Building Regulations will be the norm, as approved by the far too influential Home Builders Federation.

No comments:

Post a Comment