‘Houses are very efficient nowadays’ This is a very common statement, often coming from knowledgeable people in the low energy community. Perhaps they are, but why limit our ambition? 50 Kwh / m2 is not that great an achievement, when <15 kwh was achieved thirty years ago by Wolfgang Fiest in his flagship development. This target which he set, has been superseded over one hundred thousand times in various climates around the world since then. All his methods have been written out and published. There is no mystery about how to build like this, so why can’t we do it?
OK, we don’t need to go to this extreme, because there is a half-way position called an A1 house. An A1 house will require <25 kwh/m2 of floor area to heat / cool and light.
In the programme for government, there is great emphasis on energy upgrading our existing building stock, and this is laudable, as nobody should have to suffer cold damp and expensive living conditions. My belief is that we should not throw all our money into the one project and perhaps regret it in decades to come. A better strategy might be to have a pyramid rather than a flat approach to energy in the residential sector.
By this I mean, insure that the easy stuff, like new build is to a high standard such as A1 at the top with older regeneration projects achieving at least A2 on the next level of the pyramid. The base of the pyramid would then comprise of a section of middle class housing estates etc achieving a B1 or better.
If available public money was spent at all levels of the triangle, including a modest incentive for new build, then our housing stock will be in a better place ten years from now.
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