Week Two has focused on solar gains and internal gains.
Solar gains (using the sun to warm up) look at window placement, design, size, and shading. Getting these aspects right will help balance your solar gains (warming up the building) against your heat loss through the windows – windows do not insulate as well as walls.
There are lots of things to consider here – do we want solar shading, where should the shading be, do we want openable windows, do we want blinds, where do we want our windows? Openable windows are desirable, but security, external noise or even just stopping the pets from escaping could stop you! Blinds are helpful in reducing glare and increasing privacy, but internal blinds will not stop the glass itself from heating up, and maybe we want to maximise our views out.
Internal gains refer to everything else inside the building (apart from the heating system) that can warm the building up. This will include how many people are in the building, what type, and the number of appliances in use. The internal gains will change dramatically based on how the building is being used – is it a home, a school, or an office building?
We make assumptions about occupancy and build these into our calculations with a generous buffer to ensure that the comfort of the occupants is maximised while reducing reliance on space heating.
The lesson from this week has been the need to talk to our clients really early to understand how they want to live and work in their homes and PassivHaus projects. Everybody lives in slightly different ways; some people sleep with the window open, some people need complete silence; some have vegetable plots and want extra freezers to store their produce; some families work from home with extensive office setups; some people bought their home for the view, and don’t want to spoil these with blinds and curtains.
So tell us how you want to live, because every detail is important to us and will help ensure your PassivHaus will reflect you.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.png00stuarthttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngstuart2023-11-17 14:59:052023-11-17 14:59:07PassivHaus with Living Space Architects - Week 2
Week One has been an introduction into the key rules of PassivHaus and a closer look at thermal efficiency, heat loss and thermal bridges. There has been lots of maths involved, but also some really helpful rules of thumb, general guidance, and dispelling some myths!
Thermal Envelope: the SHAPE of the building is important and can be described with a simple Form Heat Loss Factor graph – the more exposed sides, the worse a building performs (but don’t worry – this can be overcome with some consideration of the next rules…)
Glazing: orientation is not everything, consider position, size and shading.
Insulation: how much do you need, what type do you need, and has it been installed well?
Airtight: get rid of those pesky drafts!
Ventilation: using mechanical ventilation to provide fresh air to your home, while also removing pollutants and pollen.
Myth #1: You CAN open your windows in a PassivHaus home – but you don’t need to for fresh air, or to cool down.
Fact: A PassivHaus cannot exceed 15kWh/m2 in space heating in a year. If electricity costs 27p/kWh (2023), how much electricity costs would you save for your home?
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.png00stuarthttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngstuart2023-11-13 16:57:152023-11-13 16:57:18PassivHaus with Living Space Architects - Week 1
Autumn is bringing change to Living Space Architects.
Our project architect Ellen Sinclair Harris has commenced her PassivHaus Designer training with CoAction to become a certified PassivHaus designer. This means that Living Space Architects will be able to provide our clients with industry leading advice, design, and technical ability to build better, more sustainable and energy efficient homes.
Over the next 6 weeks, Ellen is going to share key aspects of PassivHaus design, enabling everyone to better understand what energy efficient homes look like.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/IMG_1891-scaled.jpg19202560kirstyhttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngkirsty2023-11-10 17:11:492023-11-10 17:11:51PassivHaus with Living Space Architects
Without a doubt, my favourite Living Space Architects project is this Class Q barn conversion in Dartington. The transformation this shell of a building underwent is miraculous and there is no denying my feeling of complete awe and enchantment. From a cavernous barn to a striking and beautiful family home, it is hard to comprehend how much potential this timber frame truly had stored within it. It poses the question: how much unlocked potential exists elsewhere? With countless unsuspecting barns scattered across the country, it seems a shame not to grant more the same beautification.
But what is it specifically, that makes this particular barn conversion so special and the top contender for my favourite LSA project ever?
After overcoming the initial shock of “WOW! What a transformation,” a more in-depth inspection reveals just how well-crafted the use of space, light and natural materials are, combining to create a pervasive sense of calm and balance. I think the architects’ ability to capitalise on the existing features of the structure, such as the sloping roof, the open plan space and the large mass of light through the front of the property is one of the most successful aspects of the project. The large windows not only help the exterior retain its open, barn-like appearance but they dually enrich the interior space with a seamless connection between the outside and in, framing the beautiful view and providing a degree of light that most could only dream of.
I also think the separation of interior space is particularly clever. The main living space contains an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living room, which echoes the feel of a spacious large barn. However, I feel that the addition of a beautiful curved wall separating this space and an entrance hall/ walkway elevates the sophistication of the building by subtly reinforcing the fact that this is no longer a barn but a functional and stylish family home.
If you own an agricultural building that you want to convert, the Class Q legislation may enable this without full planning permission. However, it is important to note that there are a few requirements that your build must meet. For example, the new house must retain the existing external dimensions; it cannot be larger. Nevertheless, as proven by this beautiful home, a barn conversion will allow you to create a space that is unique to your surroundings. For more information on Class Q legislation or enquiries about a barn conversion, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/X2A2416-Edit-Edit-copy72-scaled.jpg17072560stuarthttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngstuart2022-11-28 11:51:562022-11-28 12:33:48Class Q Barn Conversion: My favourite Living Space Architects project
What are the costs of air source heat pumps and their current availability?
I am beginning to believe that eco-technologies are becoming a luxury item for the wealthy as the supply and instal costs are enormous and the availability is very scarce.
Over the last 10 years, nearly every project on our books has involved installing an air or ground source heat pump.
With the increasing public awareness and changing building regulations, we have recently had problems with the supply & installation of the heat pump equipment on our projects. We are now seeing a race to get the equipment installed ahead of further supply issues.
For a refurbishment of a 100-year-old 5-bedroom house, I am coordinating, our client started with the priority of upgrading the heating system to an energy-efficient – heat pump replacing all the radiators with underfloor heating.
The quote I received for the air source heat pump – and a second backup boiler for the top floor which would enable the occasional use of the loft rooms – was £18,264 This includes programable thermostats and wiring, and the commissioning of the system. The supply and instal of the hot water cylinder was £2,746
The underfloor heating for the ground floor of the house was £11,572, with a further £6,144 for underfloor heating to the 1st-floor bathroom and ensuite rooms. That’s a total of £17,716 for the underfloor heating.
And that doesn’t cover everything upstairs. The new central heating network needs to circulate at a lower temperature so we needed a new heating network of pipes and oversized radiators (to offset the lower circulated temperature of water) to the remaining bedrooms on the 1st and second floors of the house added up to £13,795
If we also include the decommissioning of the heating system at a further £2,112, the total quoted amount to replace the heating system on this project is £54,624 (including VAT)
is it ok to suggest a £50,000 saving is available if we replace the boiler with a new efficient gas boiler (with the option of hydrogen source as a future upgrade) or should I encourage my client to persist along the route of the air source heat pump and low-temperature radiator / underfloor heating strategy?
I note the new building regulations released this year are asking for all new heating systems to circulate at a maximum of 55 degrees. So I imagine these prohibitive costs and supply problems will only worsen over the next few years.
Read the full latest edition of Exeter living here.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Screenshot-2022-03-30-at-12.05.56.png580547Laura Makhttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngLaura Mak2022-04-07 09:30:002022-04-06 15:09:38Featured in the March Edition of Exeter Living
What ‘homework’ should a person have already done before they approach an architecture firm like yours?
It is helpful to have created a scrapbook or Pinterest board of houses and projects that you like – including their materials.
What is a really important thing to think about before proceeding?
Consider the orientation of the house to the sunshine and views – ideally, combine the two together so the house can open up to the landscape whilst still benefitting from an ideal solar orientation for natural/passive design.
What are the main pitfalls? Rising material prices and construction costs are increasing the contingency that builders are having to apply to their tender / fixed prices – making the overall projects more expensive.
When it comes to design how much do you do and how much does the customer do? How does that relationship work? We like to create a few alternative layouts at an early stage for our clients which can then lead to a strong element of client-guided development and working together in developing a suitable design. Many of our clients are families and couples – rather than developers – so they engage us to help them create their unique dream house.
Any new trends we should be paying attention to? the increasing need to incorporate renewable technologies to heat our houses in the future and the need to create our own PV for electrical supply – often in conjunction with a large storage battery for the home.
Is there an increased demand at the moment for new builds/ extensions? How has Covid affected your company? land with planning permission and that is suitable for new houses in short supply – so consider barn conversions or replacement dwellings as a fall-back position for a new contemporary home.
The brief was to create an eco-friendly family home. The client’s vision was rather unusual though they wanted anupsidedown house. Stuart Bayley, co-director at living space architects, tells us how they did it…
As anyone who loves their property programs will know connecting with nature is currently a big thing for those designing and producing a new home, especially in these parts. few pull off the development which immerses itself so unequivocally in the surrounding landscape as this family home though.
Located in Dunsford, just outside of Exeter nestled into lush greenness the smooth curved roof is the first thing you notice it sets the tone for the property and conveys that this is a place of calm; a gentle space where there is something of a free flow between the inside and outside.
“The roof was originally concived to replicate the form of local dutch barns which sit around the lower edges of Dartmoor,” says Stuart Bayley, co-director at Living Space Architects, the local architecture firm who designed the house.”
“Our client is a big surfer and loved the idea of a natural wave form
The green roof sits on a highly insulated roof with a rubber membrane waterproof finish so the green roof is a significant visual improvement. The natural environment benefit for birds and insects form a green roof is significant and enjoyable.”
The house split level is a quirky design; all the bedrooms are on the ground floor, the living spaces on the first floor (hence being called an ‘upside-down’ house); and amazingly, all rooms in this property have access to the outside garden.
“As you enter the house, the light and staircase draw you up to the first floor living accommodation.” adds, Stuart.
“The open plan first floor configuration creates the sense of open space with no internal walls to disrupt the light across the space from all four sides of the building.”
Stuart tells us that his favorite space are the windows of the ground floor bedrooms as these are designed to avoid any potential overlooking off the neighboring land and house.
“They create a unique character to both the inside of the rooms as they draw your eye to a different view, whilst the north-facing elevation glazing is reduced to keep down the heat loss and an intriguing rear elevation is created.”
What are the other eco-friendly credentials of the property?
“The house is a timber framed, highly insulated and air-tight building which helps to reduce the overall heating requirements. the heating its self is provided by the air-sorce heat-pump which is an increasingly popular method of heating our homes.”
Read the full latest edition of Exeter living here.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Screenshot-2022-01-07-at-16.21.40-e1641574119228.png528589stuarthttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngstuart2022-01-11 12:04:182022-10-14 10:00:43New Build Interview - Exeter Living
As a practice we specialise in the adaption and re-use of existing and historic buildings, to help make them as sustainable as possible. Our two directors are passionate about sustainability and the historic built environment. With Stuart having expertise in all things eco-tech and Kirsty a qualified Conservation Architect, they make a great combination.
We were heartened by the campaign launched recently by the Architects Journal encouraging the Re-use of existing buildings. RetrofitFirst asks architects to sign up to putting the re-use of buildings first and to work , where possible, with what is already in our built world. The quote above is from last week’s magazine cover and we thought it perfectly encapsulated our own beliefs about working with existing buildings in the south west.
The demolition of existing structures to enable the building of new ones is clearly not a sustainable approach – even if the new building uses less energy. The best approach is to help make our existing building stock more sustainable by reducing unnecessary air leakage, improving insulation in an appropriate manner and making sure they are well looked after by carefully repairing and renewing them.
Old buildings are incredibly adaptable – not something that can always be said of our new building stock, which is often difficult to adapt to new uses. Careful extensions and alterations to older buildings can help to breathe new life into a project, without detrimentally impacting on their historic significance.
Many of our projects use natural, breathable insulation to help reduce heat loss. The use of natural fibre insulation is growing rapidly at the moment, with natural and sustainable options on the market such as sheep wool, find out more here. This is particularly successful when converting loft spaces or barns. Solid walls however don’t always need an additional layer of insulation, with thick stone and cob walls working as excellent heat stores. The image below shows the addition of external wood fibre insulation to a 1970’s extension. This approach works well with existing cavity walls, although insulating internally is often a better approach for listed buildings.
Historic England encourage owners to look to the past for solutions to problems of heat loss and draughts. Historically home owners would have hung tapestries and had thick curtains or shutters to help keep them warm. A similar approach today and help keep your Listed property warm without unnecessary intervention. See their advice on their website here.
Repairing old windows is also a much more sustainable approach than replacing them with UPVC. Many windows are able to be adapted with the insertion of slim double glazing units with systems like Pilkington Spacia providing a high quality option. Secondary glazing is not always the most practical solution, but can works well and companies like Mitchell & Dickinson in North Devon offer a service to repair and renovate timber windows alongside installing very low impact secondary glazing.
Using recycled materials is an approach we would like to take more often. Rotor, a Brussels-based design practice are creating a website that will help architects and building owners source recycled materials for their build. The UK version of the site can be accessed Here We are pleased to see Exeter’s Toby’s Reclamation Yard on the list, and hopefully more locations in the south west will be added. Rotor have an arm of their business that salvages materials from demolition sites and sorts them for re-use. Hopefully this idea will be will be taken on in the UK and it will become easier to source recycled materials for new build and refurbishment projects.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/natural-insulation-Thermafleece.jpg11802000kirstyhttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngkirsty2020-03-08 19:41:292022-10-04 11:33:54The greenest building is the one that already exists
Older buildings were constructed as a cellular arrangement of rooms that would be individually heated as and when they were being used. In comparison, modern heating strategies use electronic controls to tailor the heating in the house to your exact preference. It is also important to consider the difference in building materials used in the construction of old buildings compared to the present day. These materials may not necessarily be compatible to use together, for example, the very hard material of concrete may damage the softer materials of the older building.
The older houses were built with the principles of using traditional methods of retaining heat, for example:
Closing heavy curtains
Shutting internal doors
Closing shutters at night
Utilising the thermal mass of the structure to retain heat from fires and slowly release it over a longer period of time
Nowadays houses are built with heating features such as insulation, electronic heating system and waterproof cladding.
Insulating historic buildings
The insulation of historic buildings is one of the most important aspects to consider when upgrading the infrastructure of an old building. Traditionally, older buildings have solid walls, whereas newer buildings tend to have cavity walls
A cavity wall is a wall formed of 2 separate walls (usually brick and block) with a space between them. Insulation is fitted in the space between them meaning there is one “wet” wall, on the outside of the building, and one “dry” wall on the inside of the building.
Older buildings don’t have this cavity insulation, the walls allow a degree of moisture penetration into their structure but avoid damp problems due to the breathable nature of the materials used, for example renders based on lime, earth or clay and finishes such as lime wash. These materials absorb water, but also allow for easy evaporation.
Therefore, using modern construction methods such as cement-based materials, ‘plastic’ paints and waterproof sealants will not be effective on an older building and could damage the walls of the property.
Natural insulation materials tend to be much more breathable than synthetic materials and therefore will be more effective and less damaging to use on an older building. They act as moisture buffers and tend to “breathe” with the original walls of the building. Examples of these natural materials include wood fibre, hemp, sheep’s wool, cellulose, aerogel, calcium silicate and many more.
Sheep’s wool insulation
These materials will also have excellent sustainable properties, such as:
Low embodied carbon
They improve indoor air quality
They are easy to recycle at the end of their life
Tips to make your building more energy efficient
When making historic buildings more energy efficient there are some simple things that you can do to begin with, that a relatively inexpensive and are less likely to cause problems with the structure of the building itself.
Fit draught excluders to letterboxes and outside doors
Invest in heavier curtains
Ensure that radiators aren’t blocked by furniture
Mend any broken windows
Fill in any gaps in wooden panelling
Get LED lights fitted
Clear out the gutters and the drains (these make the walls cold!)
More expensive methods that would be the next step up from this would be:
Installing programmable thermostats
Make sure all the heating and hot water pipes are well insulated
Wood burning stoves fuel much more efficiently than open fires and cause fewer draughts
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Screen-Shot-2019-03-01-at-13.22.34.png630629kirstyhttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngkirsty2019-10-01 12:38:062019-03-04 16:56:42Making historic buildings energy efficient - Heating and Insulation
Incorporating environmental and sustainability measures into buildings is an essential part of good design and allows new construction to refresh old and so that buildings will stand the test of time.
Hunsett Mill is located in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, a man-made wetland sustained through human intervention and the building of water-pumping mills, dykes and canals. It is an example of an older building that become redundant due to the introduction of electric pumps.
Here are some examples of how the site become more sustainable:
Construction of a new embankment at the back of the site has returned the nearby forest and grassland to pre-industrial marshland conditions
Indigenous plants were placed in the garden to enhance the local ecology
Site damage during the construction of the new extension was mitigated through careful design and material choices that reduced the amount of heavy machinery that was required
The nature of older buildings means they are already sustainable in their own right. For example, the materials they are made of are often locally sourced and produced and can be easily recycled or re-used at the end of their life.
Another example of where sustainability can be incorporated into older buildings is the additions of green, or living roofs.
A green roof is a system that uses vegetation as the finish of the roof covering instead of just the weathering materials.
What are the benefits of a green roof?
Helps to reduce the water run-off from buildings
Increases biodiversity and provides a habitat for wildlife
Improves thermal and acoustic insulation
Helps the building blend in with the surroundings
A great example of one of our past projects incorporating a living roof is Dunsford House, pictured below. The roof line was designed to mirror the angle of the sloping ground. The NatureMat was particularly suited to low pitched and curved roofs and restored the green natural environment with a composite vegetated mat with a 90% mature plant cover comprising 6- 8 species.
We think that Roger Hunt summarises incorporating sustainability into old buildings rather well – “To make our old buildings sustainable, compromises are inevitable but we can’t simply wrap them in thermally efficient, airtight membranes and ‘duvets’ of insulation and hope for the best.” It is important to come up with effective solutions to slightly challenging problems so that old buildings can be enjoyed for many generations.
https://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/ss_location_00.jpg350684kirstyhttps://www.livingspacearchitects.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LSA-LOGO.pngkirsty2019-08-16 11:59:002019-05-22 17:50:25Addressing Sustainability in Old Buildings
Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
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