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The First Passive Homes in the UK?

Published 8th December 2014|||||

A Look Back at Mark Brinkley’s Blog: "Are These No Heat Homes?"

Back in November 2007, Mark Brinkley, the author of the Housebuilder’s Bible, visited the Harrogate Homebuilding & Renovating Show. He bumped into Andy Porter of SIPS@Clays, who told him “we are building homes with no heating systems already!” Since the UK was and still is somewhat behind many of our neighbours in the construction of passive homes, this bold statement came as a surprise.

“Well, if you are, I’d like to see one,” he replied.

Whilst Mark’s blog post may have been written back in 2008, it answers many of the questions that our clients still ask us today. We thought we would share his story again here in order to help anyone who is thinking of carrying out a self-build project using SIPs (structural insulated panels).

Can SIPs Be Used to Build Passive Homes?

Mark’s pursuit of the answer to this question brought him to view two of our self-build properties, one in Beverley, Yorkshire and the other in Accrington, Lancashire.

Both were constructed using the Kingspan TEK Building System, and had been fitted with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). Neither had conventional heating systems, but both had wood burning stoves and solar thermal panels on the roof.

So what was the verdict? Were the self builders comfortable in their new homes?

Although Joan Barker of the Beverly home was still making a few finishing touches, she and her husband had moved in the previous week during a cold snap. She admitted that it had been a little chilly to begin with, and that she had used a couple of convector heaters to make it more comfortable.

However, in the days that followed the house become warmer, and the Barkers required no extra heating bar the woodburner that they used during the evenings. Mark sensed that Joan was very happy with her decision to do away with central and/or underfloor heating.

Over in Accrington, David and Jane Hartley had been living in their new home since the summer. They used their multifuel Dunsley stove throughout the winter, using coal to keep it going during the night, and said the MVHR system distributed the heat quite effectively. While the rooms were cool by current central standards at 14 to 18 degrees centigrade, they found it quite comfortable.

Mark was impressed. While he was unable to say at the time whether they could technically be classed as passive homes, he concluded that “these SIPs homes stand out as being as close to the new paradigm as we are likely to get in the next few years (being super insulated, pretty airtight, and mechanically ventilated)”.

You can read Mark Brinkley’s blog post in full here. Alternatively, if you’re considering an environmentally friendly self-build project of your own – whether you are looking to get as close to passive home standards as possible or would simply like lower energy bills – SIPS@Clays can help. Call us on 01756 799498 or browse our website for more information on our service.

View a time lapse video of one of our SIPs projects: