Building a dream home using the UK’s certified Passivhaus Build System – interview with Beattie Passive
As low energy home experts, we often discuss various approaches to building energy-efficient homes with our clients. Over the years, we have completed hundreds of eco-projects including Passive Houses. Although this is the strictest and most challenging building standard, Passivhaus is becoming increasingly popular among self-builders in the UK.
If you have chosen a Passivhaus approach, then you need to ensure you appoint an architect who is experienced in designing this kind of project. We always advise our clients to use the same criteria when choosing a builder.
Today we present you an interview with Ron Beattie, Managing Director of Beattie Passive, a company who you can trust that your project is in good hands. Beattie Passive has developed a construction system that is the first in the UK to achieve certification for a complete Build System from the Passivhaus Institute in Germany.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT OR UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR SYSTEM?
At Beattie Passive, we use our innovative, patented construction method to provide a continuous insulation layer around the core of a timber-framed structure, delivering a building that surpasses Passivhaus standards every time.
We start by erecting the treated timber frame structure, and once this is in place, we inject high-performance insulation into the floor, wall and ceiling cavities, creating one continuous insulated layer around the whole building, no joints, no leaks, and no thermal bridges.
As well as delivering Passivhaus as standard, Beattie Passive also delivers:
- High fire, flood and radon gas protection
- Superior sound protection
- British design and manufacture
- Extensive testing and certification upon completion, to ensure that what is designed is delivered.
What’s more, our build system is one of the simplest ways to deliver Passivhaus. However hands on you want to be with building your new home, our system can accommodate you. Our method of construction offers an easy to assemble frame-link build system. This means that, with only a week’s training at our Training Academy, you or your contractor can obtain the skills and knowledge to build and assemble your own Beattie Passive home yourself. Alternatively, our team can manufacture and erect the structural thermal envelope for you, handing over an airtight, weathertight structure ready for you to finish, or we can project manage your new home to turnkey.
The Beattie Passive system is not restrictive and can be built to suit every requirement of size and style of building and can accommodate any site location.
Our build system was the first in the UK to achieve ‘Certified Passivhaus’ for a complete build system (ground floor, walls and roof) from the Passivhaus Institute in Germany.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS TYPE OF SYSTEM OVER OTHER APPROACHES FOR PASSIVHAUS?
Our patented build system effortlessly meets the stringent Passivhaus standards. Unlike other systems, the Beattie Passive Build System creates one continuous insulation layer all around the building, including walls, floors and ceilings, meaning you get superior performance when it comes to insulation and heat loss.
Our build system also raises the benchmark for quality and standards, far exceeding current building standards on:
- Fire safety – Providing 2 hours of fire protection to one side of a party wall compared to current building regulations of 1 hour.
- Sound proofing – Our soundproofing is six times as effective as current building regulation
- Thermal efficiency – Our U-values are 0.11, compared to an industry standard of 0.28
- Air tightness – We smash the current building regulation of 10 with our airtightness tests consistently achieving 0.6 or below.
Our build system also incorporates flood protection into all our houses as standard, providing you with the assurance that your home is tanked to protect you from flood water. And we fit all our homes with Radon gas protection as standard, regardless of how small the Radon level is in your area.
Passivhaus builds are generally more expensive to build due to the complexity of detailing and rigorous air tightness requirements. However, Beattie Passive reduces the cost of building Passivhaus with our easy build system with simple detailing for walls, floors, ceilings and roofs.
HOW DOES THIS SYSTEM COMPARE ON A COST BASIS AGAINST OTHER SYSTEMS?
In terms of the building work only, to build to Passivhaus standards will indeed cost you more than building a traditional home. This is because you will need to account for airtightness, insulation, triple glazed windows, the MVHR system and more, which will all add to the bill. However, the overall picture is different. As a Passivhaus is airtight and super insulated, it is a lot better at retaining heat than a traditional build. This could lead to a reduction in your energy bills of up to 80%, meaning you will be spending a lot less to heat your home and thus saving you more money in the long term and more than making up for the increased initial investment.
The Beattie Passive system is a similar price to other Passivhaus providers; however, we go further. Beattie Passive buildings exceed both building regulations and even the strictest Passivhaus standards. We build a Passivhaus that fits around you, allowing you to continue living however you want. Our homes provide superior fire safety, sound proofing, thermal efficiency and airtightness, and come with flood and Radon gas protection as standard.
What’s more, we inspect and independently performance test every Beattie Passive home to ensure that the highest standards of construction are maintained. We carry out stringent airtightness, thermal imaging and sound migration tests following structural completion, and only upon reaching our own superior design standards will we issue a quality assurance certificate.
HOW WIDESPREAD HAS THE SYSTEM NOW BECOME AND WHAT SECTORS DO YOU OPERATE WITHIN?
The Passivhaus Trust in the UK has just recently announced that the number of certified Passivhaus buildings in the UK topped 1,000 in September 2018, with at least the same number again built since, or in the planning stages. The system has been adopted across the UK rapidly since the first fully certified UK Passivhaus was built in 2009, with steadily more and more Passivhaus buildings being built in each year.
Large scale Passivhaus development is still very much in its early stages in the UK, and as more Passive projects are undertaken and Passivhaus becomes more widely known, it is hoped that demand for more efficient housing will rise, in turn incentivising more developers and investors to support such schemes.
Beattie Passive primarily operates within the social housing, Self Build and retrofit markets and have so far delivered over 250 Passivhaus standard homes, with 38 of those properties being officially certified Passivhaus by the Passivhaus Institut.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO PEOPLE THAT WOULD LIKE TO BUILD A CERTIFIED PASSIVHAUS BUILDING?
Here are some of our top tips to ensure you build an effective Passivhaus home:
- Use a PHPP: A Passivhaus Planning Package is a tool that you can use to take a detailed look at all stages of your build and ensure that it will meet Passivhaus standards.
- Orientation: The best solar gains are found on a north/south elevation – this enables the sun to warm the house all year long via the south elevation while the northern elevation cools the home.
- Airtightness: Good airtightness is critical in a Passivhaus, as it stops the loss of the warm indoor air – a leaky house is a cold house. Even the tiniest of gaps can have a huge effect on performance. Make sure to tape up any gaps with specialist tape and use Passivhaus certified doors and windows for maximum effectiveness.
- MVHR: Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) is an integral part of a Passivhaus home. The higher the quality of your MVHR, the better your ventilation will be.
- Insulation: Continuous, high quality insulation will keep your home at a comfortable temperature all year round, and will eliminate thermal bridges, ensuring no loss of heat during the winter and keeping your home cool during the summer.
- Renewables: Renewables are a popular add on. They can help you reduce your reliance on the National Grid. In some cases, since your energy usage will be dramatically reduced in a Passivhaus your renewables could even end up making you money.
- Cost: Building to Passivhaus standard can cost slightly more than the average traditional build so it is important to budget accordingly. However, over the long term you will save much more from your reduced energy bills.
PASSIVE HOUSE WITH ACA
We have worked with a diverse range of clients involved in both the private and commercial sector including private clients, private companies, kit manufacturers, local councils, housing associations, universities and colleges helping them achieve their Passive House project goals.
We provide a full range of architecture and design services for those who would like to cut out the middle men, increase the efficiency of their construction project and go straight to the source for Passive House expertise. We offer full Passive House Design and Certification with our talented Passive House Technologist Steff Bell. Read more about our Passive House services here.