Tuesday, 6 November 2012

First affordable multi-residential buildings in UK to receive ‘Passive House Certification’

18 flats at Knights Place, designed by Gale & Snowden Architects Ltd., have officially received 'Passive House Certification' by the Passivhaus Institut in Germany.  The affordable housing scheme in Exeter consists of two, three-storey blocks of flats and was completed in 2011.  Knights Place together with Rowan House, which also received Passive House Certification earlier this year, are the first affordable multi-residential buildings to achieve Passive House Certification in the UK.

These developments provide quality, affordable accommodation that is both comfortable and healthy to live in.  The low energy standard allows for low running costs for the tenants which aids in defeating fuel poverty.

The Client, Structural and Civil Engineers were Exeter City Council and the Architects, Passivhaus Certified Designers, Building Services Engineers and Landscape Architects were Gale & Snowden Architects Ltd.

These developments are currently being extensively monitored for two years through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) Building Evaluation Programme (BPE), the results of which will be regularly uploaded to our blog and published.

Good Practice Sustainable National Guide features Gale & Snowden Architects' building on the front cover.

The Town and Country 'Good Practice Guidance: Sustainable Design and Construction' leaflet produced by the TCPA dated August 2012 has featured Gale & Snowden Architects' designs for Upton in Nottingham.

'Upon, an examplar development with houses built to high levels of sustainability.  The buildings pictured were designed by Gale & Snowden Architects Ltd., who also acted as ecological design consultants for the site'.

The guide is intended to offer good practice guidance at a national level to Clients and the Construction Industry on Sustainable Design and Construction.  

The Upton project was a development Gale & Snowden designed several years ago, however due to not being involved in the detailed design or the on-site works, we do not know how sustainable the buildings were actually built or what performance standards have been met.

There is a growing awareness that many developments that are designed to meet low energy and/or ecological standards often do not meet the standards due to commercial pressures and a lack of joined up thinking during the construction process - see 'Delivering a low-energy building: Making quality commonplace' October 2012 by Bruce Totfield.

Gale & Snowden advocate the Passivhaus Standard for low energy buildings because it provides a design methodology that requires a quality team approach to construction.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Insulating a cob cottage 2 monitoring

Following on from the blog post last year (insulating a cob cottage 1) the second year of environmental monitoring of Jason's cob cottage is now well underway.  

The external render system Unilit 20 has now been applied to the cob walls at varying depths between 40-80 mm complete with a through coloured final render finish.  Floors have been dug out, insulated and relaid, and internal lime plastering is now complete.

The SPAB study has now decided to continue the monitoring throughout the rest of year in addition to the second winter monitoring.  This will help inform how the cob wall is performing during the summer periods as well as winter.  

Dynamic flux, temperature, humidity & CO2 monitoring

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Air quality monitoring proves Passivhaus is not all hot air

We are pleased to say that the monitoring data is now live on the BSRIA website – all the sensors are now working and streaming data with the exception of the solar flow meter which is still being tweaked.   

We can now see the following live:
  • Air Quality - C02 levels in the bedroom and living room
  • Temperature and RH levels in all main rooms
  • External temperature and RH levels
  • KWh sub meter data on all electrical circuits – lighting, small power, MVHR, hot water, etc
  • Water flow data
  • The amount of solar energy being received by the solar panels
Below is an early snapshot of C02 levels in parts per million (ppm)  over a 24 hour period in a bedroom at 3 Rowan House taken on the 27/06/2012.  External air C02 levels are typically between 300 - 400 ppm  In the UK levels between 800-1000 ppm in the internal environment are considered an indicator of good air quality.   It can be seen levels are below 600 ppm which is well within this limit.

We will be monitoring over a 2 year period so watch this space for further details as we begin to analyse this data in more detail.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Passivhaus Certification for Rowan House!

Rowan House is now officially certified as a "quality approved Passivhaus".  Passivhaus (or Passive House) is the world's leading standard for energy-efficient construction.  To achieve Passivhaus certification, a project must undergo a stringent quality control process that ensures the building will perform as designed.

Completed and occupied since 2010, Rowan House is among the first multi-residential developments in the UK to achieve this standard.  The building is currently being monitored under the Technology Strategy Board's 'Performance Evaluation Programme'.

The plaque to be installed at Rowan House

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

PassivOffice Project: Thermal modelling update

Gale & Snowden's thermal modelling work carried out under the TSB's Design For Future Climate (D4FC) programme confirms that:  Highly insulated, very air tight buildings like passive houses are able to maintain comfortable summer conditions without active cooling.  Due to their increased thermal lag, they have the ability to keep warm or cool for a longer period of time.  Because of this, night cooling or subsoil heat exchangers appear especially successful in passive houses.

For more information, please see the full report below:

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Knights Place press article

Following on from its success at the Michelmore's Commercial Property Awards where it scooped the "Eco-building of the Year" award, Knights Place has been profiled in an article in the Express & Echo / Western Morning News today.

Read the full article including comments from Architect Tomas Gartner here.

Visit the Knights Place project on our website here.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Design for future weather and Passivhaus presentation to RICS conference in Exeter

At the RICS conference held in Exeter on July 04, David presented a range of Gale & Snowden projects including ongoing research for Devonshire Gate Passivoffice and Exeter City Council's Passivpool.  By adopting passive design principles, buildings can be designed to be both very energy efficient and thermally comfortable even into future weather scenarios.

David's RICS presentation can be viewed below.  Watch this blog for more information on our ongoing research work with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

Monday, 16 July 2012

Environmental Performance Monitoring at Rowan House Passivhaus Building

We have finished installing all of the sensors and monitoring equipment at Rowan House and finished the air permeability testing and MVHR balance checks.   Monitoring is now underway.  We will be looking forward to receiving some objective data to see how these flats are performing.  As with Knights Place (see Knights Place blog below) the aim of this study is to monitor the following:

  • Air quality over 2 winters and 2 summers via CO2 sensors in the bedroom and living room
  • Air temperature and humidity monitoring over the 2 year period
  • Energy consumption of all the electrical sub circuits - cooking, ventilation, small power, lights etc
  • Solar hot water panel energy monitoring
  • Air permeability re-tests in the first year and second year after handover
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) monitoring - testing air volumes over time, power efficiency of the unit in use, heat recovery efficiency during use
  • Infrared surveys and fabric dynamic heat flux tests
  • Occupant surveys and BUS questionnaires
  • EMF Studies to test the low EMF design
  • Daylight Studies

As results come in we will post them on our blog - keep an eye out, it should be interesting.

Getting prepared to fix pyranometer
Pyranometer fixed to roof
Wiring of Solar Monitor
Solar energy and flow monitor
MVHR air duct logger
Logger installed in air duct

MVHR air balance check
Tom smoke testing the air tightness
Tenants Smart metering

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Gale & Snowden wins Eco Building of the Year Award 2012

At last night's prestigious Michelmore's Commercial Property Awards ceremony, Gale & Snowden Architects were presented with the best Eco Building of the Year Award by the guest speaker Michael Portillo, for Knights Place Passivhaus affordable housing development.

The awards ceremony was held at the new Forum building on the Exeter University campus site.

David Gale, in the acceptance speech, thanked Exeter City Council and in particularly Emma Osmundsen for their vision to support an innovative scheme that would help to defeat fuel poverty and at the same time help mitigate climate change.

Knights Place is amongst the largest Passivhaus developments in this country to date. The development is in the heart of Exeter and built for the people of Exeter. This exemplar low energy scheme will raise the standards of building in the region and beyond and also raise people’s expectations of what is possible from our built environment.

For more information on the award-winning Passivhaus development at Knights Place, please visit the project profile on Gale & Snowden's website here.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Design for Future Climate competition showcase event features three Gale & Snowden projects

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) held their Design for Future Climate competition showcase event this week at the Building Centre in London.

The TSB booklet produced for the event features three Gale & Snowden climate change adaptation projects: a new build extra Passivhaus care facility for the elderly including high level of dememtia care, known as 'St Loyes Extra Care 4 Exeter'; a new Passivhaus public swimming pool design for Exeter, known as 'Swim 4 Exeter'; and a new build Passivhaus office development at Tiverton, known as 'Passivhaus @ Devonshire Gate'.  The articles on these three projects, featured in the TSB booklet can be read below.

Our PassivOffice at Devonshire Gate project was featured as one of the key project presentations of the Day.  Architect Tomas Gartner presented the PassivOffice project on behalf of Gale & Snowden and was part of the Q&A panel session following the presentation.  Gale & Snowden's presentation can be viewed below.

The RIBA will be publishing shortly a book written by Bill Gething of design for future climate.  Gale & Snowden's TSB Extra Care 4 Exeter project will be featured in the book.  We will let you know when the book is on sale.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Environmental Performance Monitoring at Knights Place Passivhaus Building

Environmental performance monitoring of the Passivhaus scheme Knights Place is now under way.    For the next 2 years 3 flats at Knights Place will be monitored to study their actual energy and environmental performance against their original design intent. All too often buildings are being designed and built to Part L energy regulations and performance monitoring of these buildings has found that they are falling far short of their original design calculations.  Excessive heat loss through the fabric and high infiltration rates, issues associated with thermal bridging and poor air quality are being found with many modern new builds.   The monitoring work is being undertaken under the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) Building Performance Evaluation programme (BPE).  The aim of this study is to monitor the following:
  • Air quality over 2 winters and 2 summers via CO2 sensors in the bedroom and living room
  • Air temperature and humidity monitoring over the 2 year period
  • Energy consumption of all the electrical sub circuits - cooking, ventilation, small power, lights etc
  • Solar hot water panel energy monitoring
  • Air permeability re-tests in the first year and second year after handover
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) monitoring - testing air volumes over time, power efficiency of the unit in use, heat recovery efficiency during use
  • Infrared surveys and fabric dynamic heat flux tests
  • Occupant surveys and BUS questionnaires
As results come in we will post them on our blog - keep an eye out, it should be interesting.

Knights Place Passivhaus

Air permeability testing           Sub Metering & Data Hub

    Temperature & Humidity Monitoring

Knights Place Infrared Image
Wi5 Data Collection Hub

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Gale & Snowden shortlisted for sustainability award

Gale & Snowden Architects have been shortlisted for the Michelmores Commercial Property Sustainability Award for the ground breaking Knights Place Passivhaus development in Exeter for Exeter City Council.

The Michelmores and Western Morning News Commercial Property Awards is the region’s premier commercial property competition, showcasing the very best in West Country commercial property projects, buildings and people. The categories are designed for commercial property projects of all shapes and sizes and winners are announced at a Gala Awards Dinner in the summer.

This year’s awards, hosted by TRH Michael Portillo, will be held at the University of Exeter’s prestigious new £48m Forum building on Tuesday 19th June 2012.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Passivoffice at Devonshire Gate: Gale & Snowden visit Germany as part of TSB research

Lawrence and Tomas visited Germany in April as part of our Technology Strategy Board (TSB) work, designing for future climates. We visited The Victoria House (also known as the 'Great Pavilion') at the Botanical Garden in Berlin which has recently undergone a complete restoration (completed in 2009) in order to maintain the historical basic structure and to reduce energy requirements by 50%.  Refurbishment work included a new facade and glazing system, new heating and ventilation, and the innovative application and installation of phase change materials (PCM).

Two approximately 12m high 'PCM towers' have been placed at either end of the green house. To blend in with the tropical plants they have been designed as hollow giant trees.

Their purpose is to guarantee an optimal vertical temperature distribution in the greenhouse. The core of these towers is filled with aluminium panels containing a special PCM (in this case salt hydrates) operating at 25°C.

A ”phase-change material”(PCM) is a substance with a high ”heat of fusion” which, melting and solidifying at a certain temperature, is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy. PCMs, such as water, paraffin, salt hydrates, etc. are able to absorb, store and release large amounts of heat or cold at comparatively small temperature change by changing their physical state, as for example from solid to liquid, solid to solid or through evaporation of the storage material. The heat stored is called latent heat, therefore materials are also referred to as “LATENT HEAT STORAGE MATERIAL”.

The towers at the Great Pavilion store “heat” or “coolth” depending on the ambient air temperature. During the day the air at the roof of the greenhouse heats up due to solar gains. An extractor fan at the top of the tower pulls in the air and pushes it down the tower, past the PCM panels and down to the plants. On its way down heat is absorbed from the air and stored in the PCM, providing cool air to the plants. During the night the air at the top of the green house cools down. This air is is again pulled in via the extractor fan, heated by the energy stored in the PCM material on the way down and supplied as warm air at plant level.

Whilst in Germany, Lawrence and Tomas also attended the 16th International Passive House Conference in Hannover.

Notes from the study trip can be read below:

"Moment to Shine" Olympic Torch Relay 2012

Crowds lined the streets this morning as the Olympic flame arrived in Bideford and Gale & Snowden were there to welcome it to our door. It’s a shame we didn’t design any of the Olympic village, but hey, you can’t have everything. Maybe next time we might be asked to design a Passivhaus stadium!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Passivoffice at Devonshire Gate: Gale & Snowden visit Portugal as part of TSB research

Jason and David visited Portugal in April as part of our Technology Strategy Board (TSB) work, designing for future climates. We visited a passively-cooled building in Lisbon known as the Solar XXI building. It is a naturally ventilated low energy building that uses the ground to cool the building down in the heat of the summer months. It has a PV system integrated into the facade of the building that, as well as producing energy, also functions as part of the ventilation and cooling facade system.

We are looking at this fascinating building in a warm climate because we are currently designing a new low energy office building in Devon, at Devonshire Gate, that has won funding from the TSB to design low energy strategies to cope with predicated future weather without introducing such things as air conditioning systems. This work follows on from our St Loyes Extra Care project climate change adaption work- see below.

A view of the XXI building from the south elevation. The Architect, Pedro Cabrito pedrocabrito@netcabo.pt, has done a great job in designing a template for future low energy office buildings for warmer climates. Contact him if you need any buildings designing in Portugal - he is a really interesting and talented person.

Jason is pictured with our new Portuguese friends who were the project team; Professor Helder Goncalves, Laura Aelenei and Pedro Cabrito the buildings Architect. We would like to thank them for their hospitality, enthusiasm and warm welcome.

3D drawing of the Devonshire Gate Passivoffice Project that has been designed by us with future climates in mind, to meet Passivhaus standards as well as minimising environmental impacts.

Further information on the Solar XXI project can be downloaded at http://www.lneg.pt/download/1818

Notes from Gale & Snowden's study tour can be read below:

Planning Success for Gale & Snowden on the North Devon coast

Gale & Snowden Architects have successfully obtained planning permission for a replacement private dwelling on the coast in Croyde, North Devon.  Oyster Falls has been designed to Passivhaus standards.

West Elevation

Gale & Snowden seek RIBA President's Award for Research 2012

We have applied this month for the RIBA President's Award for Research 2012 for our work on low environmental impact design for Future Weather for our St Loyes Extra Care project that we are undertaking with Exeter City Council in Exeter. Details of the RIBA award application process can be seen here:

"This is an excellent example of using intelligent, environmentally informed design, to design one's way out of a problem rather than resort to mechanical systems or complex features. The result adds real value by providing a delightful environment for the residents of the building as well as reducing running costs for the client"
Bill Gething

"This project showed originality in their solutions to achieving a passive house design that would function into the 2080s.....[Gale & Snowden's] approach was significantly ahead of many others.....The ExtraCare4Exeter project was one of the top 4 in the Design for Future Climate programme and was selected to give an extended presentation on their findings at the opening of the 2011 Design for Future Climate conference"
Dr Fionnuala Costello - Lead Technologist, Low Impact Buildings, Technology Strategy Board

"...the process employed by Gale & Snowden - to introduce consideration of climate change adaptation into the design and into the client's investment decision making - is as significant and praiseworthy as the chosen design features of the ultimate building"
Ian Cooper - Partner, Eclipse Research Consultants

Our research statement for the RIBA award outlines our research work and can be read below:

Gale & Snowden Planning Success

We have recently successfully obtained Planning permission for two Passivhaus projects. One is a new state of the art Passivoffice at M5 Junction 27 near Tiverton which has been designed to also meet future weather.

The second is for two new build Passivhaus flats and eco-renovation of an existing farm house at Mosshayne Farm just outside Exeter.

Gale & Snowden's building performance monitoring projects

We have won a second monitoring competition from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to monitor another of our buildings and we had the project start meeting with the TSB on 8th May.  Last year we won funding to monitor 3 flats at Knights Place and at the beginning of this year we won further funding from the TSB to monitor another 3 flats at Rowan House.  Both Knights Place and Rowan House are new build affordable housing projects in Exeter that are designed to meet Passivhaus Standards.  The monitoring work is being undertaken under the TSB Building Performance Evaluation programme (BPE).  The funding is for us to purchase and install a range of sophisticated monitoring equipment in the flats and then to monitor the performance of the building and the tenants' use of the building over a period of 24 months. As results come in we will post then on our blog - keep an eye out, it should be interesting.

Knights Place

Rowan House

Monday, 26 March 2012

Gale & Snowden Architects presenting at Ecobuild 2012

Gale & Snowden Architects were one of the guest speakers at this year’s Ecobuild exhibition at the ExCel Centre London.

David Gale was invited by the TSB (Technology Strategy Board) as a guest speaker on Wednesday 21st March at the Sustainable Architecture & Design seminar stream. The presentation session was entitled ‘Designing for climate change adaptation: opportunities for architecture’ and David’s talk was entitled ‘Integrating adaptation: ExtraCare4Exeter’.

David’s talk centered on Gale & Snowden’s St Loyes Extra Care facility project in Exeter including the design and design process as well as the adaptation measures that have been incorporated into the building so that the building can adapt to the changing weather in the future.

The building has been designed as the first Passivhaus care facility in the UK.

The seminar was well received and an interesting Q&A session followed the talk.

David’s presentation can be viewed below:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Permaculture Designers Course Day 5

Gale & Snowden's 5th Permaculture Designers Course training day was held on 26th January at our Bideford office.  The day was part of a full Designers Course in Permaculture design leading to a certificate in Permaculture design. Attendees on the course include all Gale & Snowden staff, Clients and some key Consultants that work with us.  The course, as well as leading to a Diploma in Permaculture Design, is a good venue to discuss current design projects and establish a common understanding about ecological and ethical principles and how to apply this to our work and personal life.

The workshops in the afternoon focused on our TSB (Technology Strategy Board) Future Climate Change Adaptation work for a swimming pool in Exeter and a Passivhaus Office development at Devon Gate, Tiverton.  These workshops reviewed the scope of the climate change adaption work, the individual projects and looked at how the external landscaping and Permaculture design could contribute to the climate change adaptation strategies.  Sketches were undertaken and are now being drawn up along with notes of the workshops so as to record all the feedback and interesting ideas generated.  Keep watching our blog for more ongoing information about our TSB Future climate change adaption of buildings projects.

More information about Permaculture can be found on our website, here.

Passivhaus presentation goes down well at Taunton Deane Council Chambers

On 16th January 2012 Emma Osmundsen of Exeter City Council and David Gale of Gale & Snowden Architects presented the Exeter City Council Passivhaus projects to Councillors. The presentation included the 21 Passivhaus dwellings at Rowan House and Knights Place Built in 2010 and 2011 and the planned ‘Extra Care’ facility and new city swimming pool both of which have received substantial funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to investigate future climate change adaption.

The presentation generated much discussion and positive feedback including the following comments made afterwards from Councillors;

• ‘it really does prove that exemplary standards can be achieved in new build and that Councils can be at the forefront of sustainable design. We should learn a great deal from this and I am hoping that the Council's affordable housing and housing service staff who were there utilise Exeter's advice’

• ‘it was very inspiring and it was interesting to hear from a very passionate officer and architect regarding what can be done, and who believe in the benefits of these sustainable properties. I hope that Taunton Deane can follow on from this and develop passivhaus and high levels of sustainable buildings here. I also hope that we can influence the way developers build their properties when they put in for planning applications. We also need to look at different ways we can fund, build and expand our housing stock to the same high standards that the people of Exeter are receiving’

• 'Thank you. Excellent presentation. We do need to keep upfront the reason for our (TDBC) interest, the very low cost of running these houses/flats for our prospective low income tenants and the relatively low maintenance they offer to us as landlords. Sometimes this can get sidelined in the hype!!'

The presentation made by Emma and David can be viewed below. David has been asked to make another presentation on March 30th.