Thermal imaging of Passfield Drive
One of the trickiest aspects of sustainable housing is the existing building stock, but a scheme to involve small business in retrofitting and boost skills has thrown up some interesting techniques. Now the Green Deal needs to deploy this knowledge.
Article by Eleanor young
Riba Journal April 2011
Lime House Passivhaus

The two-bedroom, ultra low-cost Lime House in Ebbw Vale has just been awarded full Passivhaus certification. It also achieves code 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.


Larch House featured in Natural Building Technologies Newspaper.

Larch and Lime House receive Exemplar Award

At the launch of Constructing Excellence Wales’ Exemplar Programme, bere:architects received a pilot Exemplar Programme award for designing the Larch and Lime House at Ebbw Vale.


The awesome 4×2m triple glazed fixed roof lights have now been craned into place onto the main roof at Mayville completing the final phase of works to make the roof fully water tight. PV and Solar panel installations are now fully underway. The roof lights, both Velux and fixed units, will allow abundant natural daylight into the main hall whilst allowing for summer night time ventilation to purge any heat that has built up during the day. Internal plaster works and decorations are also well under way. All works are leading up to the first air test scheduled for the end of March.


Justin Bere of bere:architects is offering an opportunity to learn about German techniques for fitting triple glazed passivhaus windows including positioning the windows to avoid cold bridging in an externally insulated building; fitting air tightness tapes with ‘rabbit ears’ to achieve necessary passivhaus 0.6ach @ 50Pa.; positioning windows with inflatable air bags; and fixing windows without plugs and with headless screws in order to ensure the windows are not distorted during fixing.

Thermal imaging at Passfield Drive

New Passivhaus triple glazed windows and doors have now been expertly fitted to the north elevation of 3 Passfield Drive (wall insulation will follow soon). The excellent thermal performance achieved by these windows and the draft-free fitting can be clearly seen in the thermal image of the north elevation below. Comparing the ground floor window of no. 3 to the neighbouring property on the left it is remarkable how much better our house is performing. The same can be said when considering the difference between the new front door of no.


Passivhaus buildings are comfortable and require little maintenance, but they do have some important features which are different to many existing buildings. As with any other building type, the design features must be fully understood by the occupants to ensure they are experiencing the most comfortable and healthy internal environments, using the minimum amount of energy. To achieve this it is vital that the architects and services engineers pass on the knowledge that they have gained during the design and construction period to the end user.


I’m on a train with time to carefully consider an email from my friend Dr Ben Croxford at University College London, which has prompted this posting on our research into decision making matrices for retrofit:

One of our objectives in our two Technology Strategy Board ‘ Retrofit for the Future’ projects is to develop a decision-making matrix based on evidence of cost and benefit, in relation to project funding available.


bere:architects are currently working on the low-energy retrofit of an old stone thatched cottage with new Passivhaus additions for a client who is an expert in permaculture and intends to use the cottage, outbuildings, and nine acres of land to create a near self-sufficient life. We visited site last week in the deepest Wiltshire countryside to discuss the final proposals with the client following a presentation of the scheme to local residents.


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