Last Tuesday our Butterfield team had the opportunity to explore the first PassivHaus Plus Retrofit project in the world that is currently under construction in Manchester.
Kit, the guide and mastermind behind the project, led us around the two 1890’s five bedroom houses. His aims for the project are to achieve PassivHaus Plus certification (of course), the the houses to actually be laboratories, not purely developments, ignorer to push boundaries, to conserve energy, to be as petrol chemical free as possible, and of course to create 2 beautiful comfortable homes.
The projects was started through the thought process that the government has the aim to become carbon neutral by 2050, their plan is mainly to do so through new build; however, as Kit pointed out 80% of the existing housing stock is actually pre-1930’s, with such is the answer not to bring these homes up to the necessary standards, or at least closer to them.
And so Kit’s quest began to see if this was achievable. This has not come without its difficulties, complications and huge investment in both time and money. Just to give one example the challenges faced, one of the issues encountered was that brick construction (which make up the majority of our housing stock) does not work well with the huge aim of PassiveHaus that is airtightness. Through the houses, what are the most effective, most efficient and most cost effective methods for cutting the carbon footprint of older properties is to be investigated and shared to improve our housing stock.
To further demonstrate how difficult this challenge is – in the UK only 10% of PassivHaus’ are retrofit projects (retrofit projects have slightly more lenient restrictions to achieve PassiveHaus) and none of which are PassiveHaus Plus.
The houses in terms of the aesthetic, from the front are very in keeping and traditional houses, while when looking at them from the rear they are two modern timber clad structures. Internally, a slightly more open plan ground floor has been introduced and the first floor has been has been seldom changed in configuration, and the second floor is have a layout put in that also accommodates some of the plant necessary for the project such as a MVHR unit.
As a round up, I think we all agreed it was a very educational and fascinating visit, Kit’s enthusiasm for the project is infectious. We are all very much looking forward to seeing the finished product! If you are interested in seeing the project for yourself, post-completion one of the houses will actually act as a community venue running events such as pop restaurants and art exhibitions – so keep an eye out!