East Devon commences UK’s first Passivhaus ‘EnerPHit’ standard social housing project

In what is believed to be a UK first, East Devon District Council has commenced refurbishment work with South West housing specialists Mi-space, using ground breaking low energy standards, on an exciting new type of shared social housing in a Victorian style terraced house in Exmouth.

The project will incorporate key *Passivhaus design principles, which if correctly achieved will ensure the building meets the required criteria for EnerPHit Standard, a highly successful approach to constructing and, in this case, refurbishing, buildings so that they achieve specific energy values.

Green footprint
Subject to the house passing a number of stringent tests, it will be certified as a Quality-Approved Passive House on completion, which is anticipated to be around June 2016. This will mean that the house will have excellent thermal performance, requiring very little energy to heat or cool it. This in turn will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and, most importantly, in this day of rising fuel costs, will mean lower heating bills for tenants.

The Passivhaus components used in the refurbishment will ensure that the temperature in the house never drops to below 16 degrees – even with the heating turned off. The insulation will ensure that the house is draught free with excellent indoor air quality, thanks to air infiltration rates and a supply of fresh air.

Sharing for singletons
The house will be shared by six single people who will each have their own en-suite rooms and access to a communal kitchen and dining room. Occupants will abide by a set of house rules and will be expected to show courtesy and consideration to fellow sharers.

Existing tenants in other council accommodation will be invited to help the council choose items such as floor coverings, colour schemes and the design of communal areas.

The search for suitable tenants will commence before the project’s completion, so that as soon as the house is ready, people can move in. The accommodation is designed to provide single people, with the ability to stabilise their lifestyle through either short term accommodation or a more permanent home.

Commitment to low energy housing
Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities, said:

“East Devon is totally committed to developing energy efficient housing and this house is an example of the pioneering work that we are undertaking in this area. We are using state of the art technology to build to an eco-standard that will require very little energy to heat or cool this property, giving it a green footprint that significantly reduces any dependence on fossil fuels. To attain Passivhaus accreditation will be a considerable achievement not only for this planet, but also to the greater benefit of our tenants.”

“We have spent a significant amount of time designing the property in a way that we believe will be best suited to this type of accommodation. We have had to consider many factors including how the property will impact on neighbouring properties and how to make the most of limited space available in this Victorian style terraced property.”

Amy Gilbert, Property and Asset Manager for East Devon District Council said:

“This is an extremely exciting project and we look forward to working in partnership with Mi-space to bring into being what we believe is the first ultra-low energy retrofit property (of shared social housing accommodation) in the country.  Tackling fuel poverty is one of our top priorities and this development will help to dramatically reduce household bills, so helping our tenants confront the rising cost of living.”

A J Eaton, Divisional Director of Mi-space Asset Management, part of South West construction company The Midas Group, said:

“Achieving these standards is something that is usually only done with new builds, so we are looking forward to completing what is believed to be the first retrofitting of a pre-existing  building with the efficient certification.”

“This partnership with East Devon District Council takes our work to a new and exciting level.  It will allow the Midas Group to bring its knowledge, skills and experience across construction, asset management and energy efficiency to the project.”