The homes on the rise in Norfolk, but what is a Passivhaus?

The brick frontage of the terraced new Passivhaus development at Goldsmith Street in Norwich, viewed

The brick frontage of the terraced new Passivhaus development at Goldsmith Street in Norwich, viewed from a balcony to one of the flats. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The popularity of the 'passive house' is increasing and Norfolk is now home to many of these eco-friendly developments, but what is it?

Originating in Germany, the 'passivhaus' or 'passive house', is a home that is designed to use as little energy for space heating and cooling as possible, resulting in high levels of occupant thermal comfort.

It was created with the intention of reducing a homes ecological footprint; achieved by using energy efficient building techniques and technology.

Architects who build these homes have to pay particular attention to detail and follow rigorous design and construction principles given by the Passivhaus Institut in Germany.

Construction of these homes include: passive solar design, energy efficient landscaping, super-insulation, high performance glazing, air tightness, ventilation, space heating and solar designed lighting and electrical appliances.

Although it is true that the 'passivhaus' is more expensive to build, the cost is only around 5pc more than a traditional build.

More importantly, passivhaus home owners will save around an average of 90pc on their energy bills compared to a normal home, saving them a considerable amount each year.

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Despite the benefits of owning this eco-friendly home, people are often deterred by myths that have been circulated – they are too 'boxy', the windows are welded shut or they are too complicated and expensive to build.

Experienced 'passivhaus' companies are able to design and build any size, shape or design of building simply and efficiently - from your traditional cottage to a modern villa.

Norfolk is home to a 2018 UK 'passivhaus' awards finalist, in the large residential category, Carrowbreck Meadow development.

This development holds 14 'passivhaus' homes with contemporary designs and is a rendition of a Norfolk vernacular - defined by several references to a historic barn seen throughout the county.

All are fitted with Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) providing continuous fresh air circulated around the home, meaning there is less need for the windows to be opened – they are not welded shut.

The properties positioning and orientation is ensured to maximise the access to solar gain in winter and prevents over heating in summer.

In January, the first homes built on what is the largest low-energy 'passivhaus' development in the UK - and one of the largest in Europe – was unveiled.

Two show homes were officially launched on Rayne Park in Three Score, Bowthorpe in Norfolk– a site of 172 new homes and 112 of which boast energy efficient passivhaus technology.

The houses range in size from one to five bedrooms, with one and two-bedroom apartments also available and a total of 57 affordable homes.

From affordable housing to millionaire mansions – these eco friendly homes are not restricted to a price range.

In May, seven ultra modern, luxury passivhaus builds went up for sale, each with a price tag of £1.5millon.

Dubbed the 'millionaire row' the houses, located in Octagon Park, Little Plumstead, Norwich, offer state of the art, bright open plan living with cheap running costs and reduced ecological footprints.

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