Learn more about how London's largest development built using passivhaus principles was achieved and the lessons we learned.
Sulgrave Gardens, Brook Green, Shepherds Bush
Completed in September 2013, The Greenhauses at Sulgrave Gardens is an award winning scheme and represents a significant step forward in bringing Passivhaus into common use in the UK, in an affordable and deliverable format appropriate for higher density use in towns and cities. It proves that Passivhaus dwellings are a viable proposition in urban locations that might previously have been deemed unsuitable.
Built in the desirable setting of Brook Green, close to fashionable Shepherds Bush, we developed 30 stunning new homes, which were made available to individuals on all incomes – including 8 for outright private sale, 13 for shared ownership and 9 for affordable rent.
The motivation for Octavia was to make use of the most innovative methods of construction to make sustainable living available to those on all incomes, not just a luxury for those who can afford it.
These homes are not only anticipated to save residents a significant amount on fuel bills (up to 90% in the case of the certified units) but also to provide considerably improved air quality within.
Passivhaus is a building standard that is truly energy efficient, comfortable, affordable and ecological, all at the same time. It is not a brand name, but a construction concept that follows a set of rigorous and certifiable principles that have stood the test of time and practice.
- The homes use energy sources from inside such as body heat from the residents and solar gain from the windows, which requires very high levels of insulation and very low air leakage.
- Triple glazed windows and a building shell consisting of highly insulated exterior walls, roof and floor slab keep the desired warmth in the house during cold months, or out during the summer.
- A ventilation system consistently supplies fresh air providing superior quality air (with reduced levels of pollen or dust for example) without causing any unpleasant draughts. A highly efficient heat recovery unit allows for the heat contained in the exhaust air to be re-used.
All the major components of Sulgrave Gardens either meets or exceeds the performance requirements of Passivhaus. The primary energy requirement to meet Passivhaus standards is 120 kWh/m2/ year. In two blocks at Sulgrave Gardens we exceeded these readings. Block A achieved 92 kWh/m2/year and block B was as low as 80 kWh/m2/year.
As in many urban dwellings, Octavia and our team of partners were faced with constraints that exist as part of the usual planning and local contextual considerations, and as an added complication, the site is sandwiched between two conservation areas. This coupled with the desire to build a mixed tenure scheme of such a scale as well as being guided by the Passivhaus principles, required new dimensions of innovation. Each of the four blocks required a specific design response so as to meet the challenges of the planning and architectural context, and the energy use and heat loss targets of Passivhaus. Two main construction methods were used, with SIPS (an insulated panel system) being used to provide the structural frame and external walls to the 10 houses.
A concrete frame with SIPS external wall was used for the 20 flats and maisonettes. Taking into account the context and Passivhaus standards required, we achieved 18 homes built to the full Passivhaus standard with the remainder meeting the principles of Passivhaus design.