09 Mar 2016

Housing and Planning

New council houses aim to reduce future energy bills for tenants

The next phase of council houses in Bristol will aim to reduce bills for future tenants by using the latest energy efficient construction techniques.

In 2014 Bristol City Council began a new build housing programme that will see over 100 new homes come into the council’s housing stock over the next three years.

Three sites are currently under construction and the council has now appointed Melhuish and Saunders to start work on a new social housing project using Passivhaus techniques.

Passivhaus is an internationally recognised construction concept and voluntary standard for energy efficient architecture. Passive Buildings make use of “passive” heating and cooling technologies to stay at a comfortable temperature with consistent fresh air throughout the building all year-round with minimal energy inputs.

It focuses on a “fabric first” approach with excellent thermal insulation. This ensures that heat loss is minimised, reducing energy costs, and thereby cutting down on the building’s carbon emissions.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Building decent social housing has been one of my main priorities since I became Mayor just over three years ago. These new Council homes, amongst the first for decades in Bristol, will provide much needed and highly efficient family homes - fit for a European Green Capital. 

“These really high energy efficiency standards, inspired by the German Passivhaus principles, will mean a significant reduction in bills and improvement in comfort - a vitally important consideration in light of Welfare Reforms which could leave many of our tenants considerably worse off.

“Very few new homes are built to this energy standard in the UK and they certainly set the bar higher for Bristol developments. 

“This is the first time the council has built Passivhaus properties using our own resources and I much look forward to seeing the finished results.”

 The new homes, which will provide housing for 20 families in the Henbury and Brentry area, are due to be built in three separate locations, Chakeshill Drive, Satchfield Crescent and Peverell Drive.

Councillor Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, said: “This build programme is good news for current tenants and people on the housing register.

“It was fitting that in Bristol's Green Capital year the first of the new properties completed were built to the highest possible environmental standards, and we are now going one step further.”

Developed in Germany in the 1990’s Passivhaus construction has started to take off in the UK due to its low energy usage and environmentally friendly approach to building.

Tom Russell of Emmett Russell Architects, said: “These three developments will provide much needed new council housing on existing brownfield sites. They will be exemplary buildings built to Passivhaus standard, a ‘fabric first’ approach that provides the most rigorous of all building energy standards.

“As Passivhaus dwellings they are designed to minimise any heating requirement whilst providing excellent levels of comfort and indoor air quality. Typically annual fuel use for heating a Passivhaus will be one tenth that of an average home. For the tenants this will mean low energy bills, for the environment this means minimising carbon emissions”.

The new homes will be super-insulated with triple glazing throughout and will have a heat recovery ventilation system to provide fresh air and control humidity.

John Mitchard, managing director at Melhuish and Saunders, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this project. Passivhaus buildings provide an excellent way for local authorities to create energy efficient, environmentally sustainable social housing.

“This is the first such project we have undertaken for Bristol City Council and we hope that it will provide a standard for other councils, and homebuilders, as they work to reduce carbon emissions while combating the growing issue of necessary houses.”

Note to editors

  • Passivhaus Standards:  Passivhaus buildings provide a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling.  These buildings achieve a 75% reduction in space heating requirements, compared to standard practice for UK new build. The newbuild homes are built with meticulous attention to detail and rigorous design and construction according to principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany.   The Passivhaus standard gives a robust method to help the industry achieve the 80% carbon reductions set as a legislative target for the UK Government.