Now you might think life up here in the grim North (well, Cumbria) is all about living in old draughty houses, as we huddle round an open fire wishing away our winter blues. Not so – I was fortunate to recently be invited to video early stages of construction of a ‘PassivHaus’ project in Kendal, the first such house to be built there.
PassivHaus is a concept which originated in Germany, and which now also sets the standard for eco housing here in the UK. Architect Andrew Yeats explained that it’s all about some very clever use of design principles and materials which focus on very high levels of insulation and airtightness, meaning that the finished dwelling needs little or no heating. In fact most of the heating needs are met simply by solar gain on sunny days, plus the activities of the occupants and their appliances.
The PassivHaus in Kendal was constructed using timber frame panels built by Eden Insulation in Appleby, with highly specialised airtight materials supplied by Ecological Building Systems in Carlisle.
Pace of construction was very impressive; ground floor panels arrived for unloading at 9am, and were installed like clockwork by noon, along with the floor for the next storey. The rapid build schedule continued with first floor and roof trusses all unloaded and erected during the afternoon, essentially completing the house structure by 5pm the same day!
The roof was then felted the following day, making the shell of the building weatherproof from above in only 36 hours, and allowing follow-on tasks such as slating and first fix to continue.
All in all it’s a very exciting concept in high quality housing construction which will surely soon become much more widespread in Cumbria, minimising the costs to run our housing stock plus helping our environment as well. Look out for the Eden Lighthouse video shortly!