Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Government report identifies Passivhaus as best meeting the 'Performance Gap' between design expectation and built performance

The recently published government report, 'Building Performance Evaluation Programme: Findings from domestic projects', conducted by Innovate UK (formally the Technology Strategy Board), set out to find out if low-carbon homes really were performing as energy-efficiently as predicted at the design stage, and if not, what was causing the 'performance gap'. 

The UK is legally bound to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. Building better low-carbon homes will help the UK achieve this ambitious goal. 

The Innovate UK report, published earlier this month on the GOV.UK website, looked at data from a subset of 76 homes in the Innovate UK’s Building Performance Evaluation Programme (BPE). The properties chosen in the BPE are part of leading-edge developments across the UK where low-carbon design was a priority, and include two of Gale & Snowden Architects' recent residential projects, Knight's Place and Rowan House.

The report looks at three forms of low-carbon design (Passivhaus, Passive Solar and Traditional with renewable energy systems) and concludes that: 'homes built to Passivhaus standards achieved the best airtightness and insulation values, which means they had the lowest heat loss and the best thermal performance'.

Gale & Snowden was involved in the BPE programme, spending a period of over two years monitoring five Passivhaus flats at Knight's Place and Rowan House. Our previous blog post discussing the methods used to monitor the flats can be found here.

Knight's Place

The Innovate UK report found that Knight's Place came second across the schemes tested in airtightness results, achieving air permeabilities of 0.30m3/hr/m2 and 0.74m3/hr/m2 (at 50Pa) against a design of 0.41m3/hr/m2 (at 50Pa). The worst performing scheme was as much as 14.48m3/hr/m2 (at 50Pa) worse than designed. Credit goes to ISG Pearce Ltd. contractors for achieving such outstanding airtight construction.

Other findings in the report include:
  • Adopting Passivhaus principles can achieve very low energy use for space heating. Long-term low heating bills can repay the extra effort and attention needed onsite. 
  • Construction has a limited effect on electricity use. However, the use of low-power fittings, including lights, can reduce demand. Efficient construction provides a much bigger scope for savings in space heating. 

Having designed low-energy buildings for nearly 25 years, Gale & Snowden welcome the report's findings and will use the information and strategies outlined to build on their already vast experience in Passivhaus and low-energy design.

To read more about Passivhaus and energy-efficient design, visit our website. Gale & Snowden is registered with the Passivhaus Institute in Germany as a Certified Designer, as well as being a member of the Passivhaus Trust in the UK. Gale & Snowden also offer a Passivhaus design consultancy service, with more information available here.

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The full 38-page report can be downloaded from here, or read below:

Friday, 12 February 2016

G&S Featured on The Modern House with High-Quality Modern Design

Gale & Snowden Architects is pleased to announce that one of our houses, completed in 2010, is being featured on the prestigious The Modern House website and has been recognised as a high-quality modern design of significance.

The Greenwood project is a unique new build dwelling, set in the beautiful North Devon countryside, close to the village of High Bickington. Gale & Snowden Architects was able to obtain detailed planning permission for this ecological and low energy building on the site of a former single-storey dwelling. 

The innovative building and landscape design makes the best use of site assets: the dwelling is built into the south facing bank of the valley to maximise solar gains and panoramic countryside views, whilst seeking shelter from cold Northerly winds. The site generates its own fuel and power from coppiced wood, solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, and its productive garden provides food for the occupants.

Key features of the project are:

  • Beneficial solar heat gain
  • Super-insulated – triple glazing and high levels of insulation throughout
  • Non-thermal bridging detailing
  • Air tight construction
  • Thermal mass design
  • Natural daylight design
  • Natural ventilation
  • Minimal space heating requirements - one wood burner can provide all space heating.
  • Healthy building design in accordance with Building Biology principles – e.g.: non-VOC and non-chlorine based (non-PVC) materials, organic paints, stains and oils, natural materials
  • Low water use design
  • Solar photovoltaic panels, which provide an annual feed-in tariff that has recently been in excess of £1,000 per year
  • Solar thermal providing hot water
  • Low energy lighting and appliances throughout
The design also features local crafts incorporated into the building such as the bespoke oak spiral staircase, joinery throughout and the handcrafted kitchen.

The house has been designed around a spectacular open plan kitchen / dining / living room that has soaring ceiling heights. Largely double-height, this is a room with rare qualities of light and space and has wonderful views across the valley.

Gale & Snowden Architects provided full and integrated Architectural and Mechanical Engineering design services for this project from concept design to completion.
As building plots for self-build projects are becoming more scarce, a number of Gale & Snowden’s clients are finding properties that are beyond renovation. The practice has successfully achieved planning approvals for several similar projects for new and much improved ecologically aware dwellings.

To view more information and images of Greenwood, visit the project profile on our website. Also take a look at similar one-off houses by Gale & Snowden Architects.

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates @galeandsnowden

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Barnstaple & North Devon Museum Gains Stage 1 Heritage Lottery Funding

Gale & Snowden Architects' involvement with Barnstaple and North Devon Museum has led to their concept design study of the Long Bridge Wing gaining Stage 1 Heritage Lottery Funding.

Gale & Snowden was selected by North Devon District Council to undertake a concept design study for a new extension to the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum: the ‘Long Bridge Wing'.

This concept design was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in a bid to gain Stage 1 funding, which will enable the Museum to hold public consultations and to develop the design of the extension, leading to a Stage 2 funding bid later this year. 

If the Stage 2 bid is successful, further funding would be released, and alongside ongoing fundraising efforts made by the Museum and the Barnstaple Museum Development Trust, the extension could become a reality in 2018.

The Stage 1 proposal included a double-height atrium space and would incorporate an improved café and a new Social History Gallery, designed to showcase life in North Devon over the past 100 years, displaying such artefacts as a Huxtable plough and the last Barnstaple salmon boat. The proposal also replanned the interior of the existing museum to improve visitor circulation through galleries and exhibitions.

450m2 of existing displays and collections would be improved and upgraded to contemporary standards, including the geology, natural history, archaeology and manufacturers of North Devon and Barnstaple. The increase in footprint would also allow for the redisplaying of the Shapland and Petter furniture and Brannam Art Pottery collections, which demonstrate Barnstaple’s importance as a creative manufacturing centre during the Arts and Crafts period.

In addition to the new Social History Gallery, the proposal included a high-quality temporary exhibition space, improved storage facilities, and fit-for-purpose educational and meeting facilities, all with full disabled access.

Gale & Snowden Architects' design for the proposed Long Bridge Wing extension would ensure it would be built to ultra-low energy Passivhaus standards, and incorporate low energy and Healthy Building features including:

  • Protection of artifacts from direct UV sunlight
  • Temperature and humidity controls
  • Beneficial solar heat gain
  • Super-insulated – triple glazing and high levels of insulation throughout
  • Non-thermal bridging detailing
  • Natural ventilation
  • Low energy lighting and appliances throughout
  • Healthy building design in accordance with Building Biology principles, e.g. non-VOC and non-chlorine based (non-PVC) materials, organic paints, stains and oils
  • Natural and low embodied energy materials
  • Low water-use design
  • Airtight construction
The images were shown at a public display at the Museum in the summer of 2015.

Gale & Snowden very much enjoyed working with Barnstaple and North Devon Museum during the Stage 1 process and wish the Museum all the best with their ongoing fundraising.

To take a look at more conceptual images of the scheme, visit our webpage hereAlso take a look at similar cultural and leisure projects by Gale & Snowden Architects.

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates @galeandsnowden

Friday, 5 February 2016

G&S Gain Planning Permission for Oak Frame Extension to North Devon Listed Cottage #ecodesign

Gale & Snowden Architects has recently gained Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent for an extension and internal reworking to a thatched cottage nestled in the North Devon countryside.

Gale & Snowden was employed to design a super-insulated, timber-frame kitchen extension to the Grade II Listed former farmhouse, making best use of the stunning views over the garden, surrounding countryside and further afield to Dartmoor.

The fully-glazed garden elevation, combined with a high, open-vaulted roof, will allow daylight to flood into the extension. Large sliding doors will seamlessly bring together inside and outside spaces, improving the connection between the house and garden.

The materials proposed - natural stone walling, large section timber frame and slate roofing - are in keeping with the local North Devon vernacular and pay homage to its listed setting.

In addition, Gale & Snowden was employed to rework the internal room arrangement to create an improved layout whilst retaining and celebrating the cottage's features of historical importance, including timber beams and a bread oven.

To view more information and images of similar projects, visit our website. Also take a look at similar one-off houses by Gale & Snowden Architects.

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates @galeandsnowden