Our client has moved into her new, four-bedroom Passivhaus in central Edinburgh. It was quite a journey, through Covid and escalating material costs, but we got there and the client is delighted. In fact we have achieved a Scottish Building Standards ‘Gold’ sustainability label it.
The Scottish Building Standards Sustainability labelling is a broader endorsement of the sustainability of a building than Passivhaus Standard, which only looks at energy consumption. The sustainability labelling also looks at water efficiency and flexibility (important for long-term use) amongst other criteria. Unfortunately there is no standard yet that takes account of toxicity of materials or levels of embodied carbon – both extremely important for the health and well-being of the occupant and planet. The materials used here would have scored highly in these categories.
The client wanted the largest house possible in this infill site. This dictated the form —going as close to the boundaries as building regulations would allow and as high as planning would allow, with a a stepped, flat roof at the rear in order not to overshadow neighbours’ gardens. The top roof proved to be the perfect place to hide several arrays of PV panels. The lower roof is sedum covered.
The large open-plan ground floor makes the most of the south-facing garden.
The materials used are almost entirely natural including timber I-joists, to minimise thermal bridging, that are filled with sheep’s wool insulation and further wood-fibre insulation inside. All doors and windows are triple-glazed.
The energy from the PV panels is stored in an East Lothian-made Sunamp phase change battery, small enough to fit in a cupboard, which ensures energy self-sufficiency and protection from the power cuts which have been widely predicted once much of UK (EVs, other transportation, etc) is electrified ahead of the national grid being reconfigured.