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The eco-homes revolution in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 14:14 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:14 16 April 2018

Inside one of the new Passivhaus home in Bowthorpe (photo: Denise Bradley)

Inside one of the new Passivhaus home in Bowthorpe (photo: Denise Bradley)


Norwich City Council is leading the way with a development of low-energy Passivhaus homes

Norwich City Council has been at the forefront of the development of low-energy homes, creating a company to build them at a site in Bowthorpe. The development is a mix of private and social housing.

We asked Alison Guyton, new homes director at Leaders, who are handling the sales and marketing, about the development.

How many homes are being built in total?

A total of 79 homes are being built in Phase 1, but the whole Rayne Park development will be 172 homes. The first phase will include 62 Passivhaus standard homes.

When will they be completed?

Phase 1 is due for completion between now and November.

What has been the interest from potential buyers/tenants?

Buyer demand has been very high with over 40% of the first two blocks launched already reserved. Buyers have been a mixture of first-time buyers and families looking for the next rung on the ladder. The architectural design, Passivhaus element and the location have been the main drivers of interest in the site.

How are people responding to the Passivhaus heating system?

Passivhaus properties still have a conventional heating system, but thanks to the triple glazing and other features it produces ultra-low energy buildings that need very little fuel for heating or cooling, reducing energy bills by up to 70%.

There are a few do’s and dont’s associated with Passivhaus living; how are people reacting to that?

Living in a Passivhaus property isn’t restrictive at all. You can open windows (a common misconception is that you have to keep the house air tight at all times), you can adjust the temperature as you would in a standard home, you can essentially just get on with everyday life. So whilst there are some guidelines to get the best use from the Passivhaus elements of the property none have caused any concern to the buyers so far.

Are these houses more expensive or complex to build than traditional ones?

They are slightly more expensive to build, and therefore the capital values are higher, though this is more than off-set by the utility costs being substantially lower. The Passivhaus homes have to pass more complex build standards in order to get the accreditation. That means anyone buying a Passivhaus can be assured of the quality and efficiency of the home.

Do you think that all homes will be built like this one day?

The Passivhaus Standard is one the world’s most energy efficient levels that can be achieved whilst still being mostly a traditional build. Passivhaus properties traditionally still have a conventional heating system, they just use other smart ways to make the heat last longer and go further and also help to keep the home cool in summer without the need for air conditioning or to use fans. They save the occupants up to 70% in running costs, so this may prompt an increased demand for this type of housing.

What is passivhaus?

Low-energy properties built to the Passivhaus standard of energy efficiency – the highest certifiable – usually have extra thick insulation, triple-glazed windows and doors, and a vent system which allows clean air into the home, while ensuring that heat generated through day-to-day activities does not escape. For the inhabitants, this means using the heat generated in the home to dramatically cut heating bills.

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