Visit a Passivhaus certified, self-built home in Silverton, Devon

Find out more about how we approach this building scenario

Heard a lot of the theory? Come and experience the reality…

  • Thinking of building your own home? 
  • Interested in building sustainably and/or achieving the Passivhaus standard? 
  • Want to talk to someone that has experienced building their own home? 
  • Need practical advice on designing, building and living in a Passivhaus home?
  • Chris Brookman (Director of Back To Earth) finished building his Passivhaus certified home (shown above) in 2013. He’s keen to offer, those contemplating doing the same, his time and to lend his experiences of doing so. This is a free, no obligation opportunity to see an active, Passivhaus certified home in action. Get in touch with Chris, using the form on the right and organise a time to visit and meet with him at his Passivhaus certified, self-built home in Silverton, Devon. He’ll give you a couple of hours of his time and talk you through everything you need to know about building your own home. If you’d rather call Chris, he can be reached on 01392 861763. The address of the home is: Jubilee House, 7 Tuns Lane, Silverton, Devon. EX5 4HY

    What is Passivhaus?

    Passivhaus or Passive House is a very low energy building standard which creates well insulated, well ventilated, draft-free buildings with very very low heating bills. The term ‘Passivhaus’ is German, the direct translation being ‘passive building’ rather than a domestic house as is often assumed and it can be applied to any building, commercial or residential. It is based on simple building physics (as Wolfgang Feist, it’s creator is keen to point out) and is not the result of building regulations in any particular country, although some regions are adopting it as their standard regulation. It is a perfect standard for Devon, Cornwall and the South West of the UK given our very windy weather and high energy prices.
    To create a Passivhaus building requires much more attention to detail than standard construction requires. The initial design has to be put through the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP), essentially a very large Excel spreadsheet, which assesses the likely heat gains (from the sun and the activities of the occupants) and heat losses (through windows, walls, roof and floors and from ventilation) of the building. The PHPP calculates the overall annual heating requirement for the building and so long it is projected to be less than 15kWh per m2 of floor area then the design will meet the Passivhaus standard. The Passivhaus standard also requires that the airtightness of the building is less than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals and that the total energy consumption is less than 120 kWh per m2 per year for all of the activities in the building. That includes all the electricity and gas that is used by appliances as well as for heating or cooling.
    Although the design side of Passivhaus is challenging the construction can be very simple. At Back to Earth we have worked on many low energy and certified Passivhaus buildings, especially in Devon, Cornwall and the South West, and have helped ensure our customers have achieved all the targets set out by this rigorous standard. We have given design guidance and supplied (and given installation guidance on) the insulation materials necessary to achieve the very low U-values required and also the required airtightness products. Using our simple construction methods has allowed even novice builders to reach the very high airtightness standards required. There are some simple details here. Using this type of construction can mean the additional cost of Passivhaus construction can be as little as 10% overall.
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