Scotland Build Expo 2019- A growing interest in Passivhaus


protest climate change

It was standing room only for the large crowd that gathered for the Passivhaus seminar at Scotland Build on March 20th. It was one of the best attended seminars of the two day Expo; clear evidence of the growing interested in Passivhaus in Scotland.

The seminar was chaired by Sarah Lewis of Hamson Barron Smith, who gave an overview of the work of the Passivhaus Trust and outlined for delegates what Passivhaus is. Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of work, and well worth a read, is the Trust’s latest paper on ‘Passivhaus and Zero Carbon’,

A variety of speakers gave different perspectives on Passivhaus covering both new build and retrofit.

I outlined Architype’s experience of delivering a wide range of Passivhaus schools and archive buildings and shared the very powerful monitoring data we have collected over many years. This demonstrates clearly how effectively Passivhaus eliminates the performance gap in both energy and comfort that is all too common in modern buildings.

Matt Bridgestock illustrated John Gilbert Architect’s collaboration with Stewart and Shields to create an affordable system called ‘Passivhoos’. Sarah Lewis shared her very personal story of the current retrofit of her own house in North Berwick to the EnerPhit Standard (Passivhaus for existing buildings). Thomas Robinson gave an interesting insight into the challenges for delivering an EnerPhit barn conversion.

But, perhaps the most fascinating presentation was by Patrick Brown, Capital and Progamme team Manager at City of Edinburgh Council, who told the story of the Council’s ‘Journey towards Passivhaus’. The well publicised construction failures in a number of previous Edinburgh Schools, combined with a growing frustration that many of their new schools are consuming more energy that their old Victorian schools, and often experience issues with internal environmental quality, led Patrick to seek new ways of designing and constructing schools to higher standards.

Patrick believes that the evidence based, quality assurance backed rigour of Passivhaus certification could be the best solution. The Council has therefore decided to adopt Passivhaus for its future schools programme. This will dramatically reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, at the same time as ensuring optimum air quality and comfort for pupils and teachers.

Patrick finished with a photo he took of a banner at the school pupil’s climate demonstration outside Holyrood on the 15th March, which rather amusingly summed up the relative importance of addressing climate change.

The worldwide pupils’ strikes and demonstrations have become a powerful force in focussing attention on climate change. All credit to City of Edinburgh Council for addressing climate change AND education, by proposing to give Edinburgh pupils new schools built to Passivhaus.