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Sustainable Construction With a Passivhaus Self-Build.

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Sustainable Construction With a Passivhaus Self-Build.

Published: 19th August 2021

How can I be more sustainable? It really is the big question on everyone’s mind now, and quite rightly so!

After all, why wouldn’t we want to safeguard this planet that we call home for future generations to come?

There are lots of ways in which businesses and individuals are becoming more sustainable these days. People are taking responsibility for their planet, and it is such a great thing to see. This can be simply by making sure to switch all lights off when not in use, or eating less meat, right through to going plastic-free or having a completely plant-based diet.

We have also seen a huge rise in people looking to build their own homes in the UK. Self-building is now said to account for 7-10% of homes built in the country each year, with this bringing a whole host of benefits to the end-user. These benefits include: building a high-quality home at a cost-effective price, creating a home for life, and obviously designing a home that is unique to the owner too. Self-builders have also been keen to create homes with sustainability considerations at their core, particularly when built to Passivhaus standards.

Passivhaus, or Passive House, is a voluntary standard of construction that embodies principles of design that allow the habitants to enjoy an extremely high level of comfort (heating and cooling), with the home using little-to-no energy to achieve this. Many homes generate their heat from appliances such as the oven, a computer, refrigerators or even lightbulbs and candles. It is also generated from a Passivhaus home’s occupants utilising good old fashioned body heat.

This incredible and innovative standard of sustainable construction allows for a considerable reduction in both carbon emissions and energy bills. A bit of a win-win, saving both money and the environment, and we are proud to offer our services to this standard of construction at Econekt.

ICF in Passivhaus Building

Passivhaus homes have a very low demand for heating, and with an Izodom ICF self-build, this is largely due to the unrivalled airtightness and insulation levels that are provided as standard. The homes will tend to be built with both ICF walls and foundation slabs for optimum insulation and minimal to no thermal bridges at key structural junctions.

ICF has long been hailed as a revolutionary walling, and foundation system, offering a level of insulation that is extremely difficult to replicate when using any other material or system. Due to said high levels of insulation and airtightness, homes built using this will see a direct correlation between its use, and a reduction in heating demand. This, in turn, has a huge impact on energy consumption and sustainability.

icf with bracing system attached

Thermal Bridging

While ICF insulation plays a key role in the reduction of the heating demand of a Passivhaus home, it cannot take all the credit. The removal of thermal bridging at key structural junctions also plays a huge part in making a home much more sustainable. This is the spaces where the heat tries to escape, typically where there is a break or penetration in the structure, as heat will always follow the path to escape which has the least resistance.

This usually will be where walls meet the floor, where the roof meets the walls, around windows and doors, and at cable or pipe openings.

As Passivhaus homes are built to be near-free of thermal bridges, they can retain a lot of the heat produced from the habitants and the appliances they use, thus significantly reducing the home’s demand for heating, making it far more sustainable.

Passivhaus and Sustainable Construction

It is very clear to see that there is a direct correlation between homes built to Passivhaus standards, and a very low heating or cooling demand, meaning the home will have a very low carbon emission if any at all.

As we don’t all have the luxury of staying in hotter climates, there may sometimes be a requirement for the use of traditional heating methods, even in a Passivhaus home. Some homeowners may have to install a heating system, but you can rest assured it will not need to be used anywhere near as much as classically built homes.

But, what about the energy used by appliances?

Constructing a home to the extremely high standards of Passivhaus, and going through the rigorous routes to certification, most self-builders will tend to opt for an eco-friendly energy source. Having solar-powered panels installed on the roof or using a renewable energy provider. At the end of the day, if you are planning to build a home that has sustainable construction at its core, you would want to have the most eco-friendly means by which to run it too. 

Interested to see how we can help with your self-build journey? Get in touch today with one of our highly-trained specialists.