RIBA honours Passivhaus Feist

The news that Professor Wolfgang Feist – the founder of the Passivhaus Institut – is to be awarded a RIBA honorary fellowship next month confirms both the growing acceptance of the Passivhaus standard in the UK and his contribution to sustainable architecture. It also emphasises the fact that high levels of energy efficiency and good architectural design go hand in hand.

We’re now seeing that Passivhaus is no longer simply for self-build houses in the Grand Designs mould. Recently I wrote a feature for Show House magazine after visiting Octavia Living’s The Greenhauses development, one of London’s largest mixed-tenure schemes being built using the Passivhaus approach.

During his trip to the UK, Feist will be visiting other exemplar Passivhaus sites. These will include Chester-Balmore’s 53 home development in Camden which will be the UK’s largest residential scheme so far to meet the Passivhaus standard. The project is part of Camden’s Community Investment Programme and aims to ensure new-build social housing incorporates energy efficiency at design stage, a key element of Passivhaus certification.

In Ditchingham, South Norfolk, Feist will visit Hastoe’s scheme of 14 homes, the housing association’s second Passivhaus scheme after its award winning Wimbish scheme in Essex. The brief for Ditchingham was to develop affordable dwellings to achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, Lifetime Homes, Secure by Design and 14 Building for Life points. According to the Passivhaus Trust, the lessons learnt from the Wimbish scheme have been replicated on this project. It is not just an exemplar: this is the first step on the way to making the methodology a mainstream option for those wanting comfortable living environments with low fuel bills. The Ditchingham scheme was completed in September 2012 and is expected to receive it’s Passivhaus certification by the end of January 2013.

As the co-originator of the Passivhaus concept, Feist has given up much of his life to the cause but, as he said to me when I interviewed him a year or so ago: “As long as it is helpful to bring the Passivhaus standard forward I’m not hesitating to do it.”

Image credit: Andy Perrin