Proving that you can have your cake and eat it, two beautiful Victorian townhouses in Manchester have become the first homes in Europe to achieve the world’s toughest performance standards set by the renowned German Passivhaus Institute.
Using Nobel prize winning super material, graphene and a host of world first technologies, these 125 year old properties outperform 99.9 per cent of new builds – a true showcase of the potential in the UK’s heritage buildings.
Newly renovated by eco consultants Ecospheric, the homes are comfortable all year, without central heating, with superb air quality that alleviates allergies and battles bacteria.
ZERO ENERGY BILLS
Saving £50,000 over the first 10 years with zero energy bills and minimal maintenance, the houses are packed with innovation. Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof power the homes’ lighting and appliances and heat the hot water tank – the first in the world with a thermocline control. The homes generate more power than they use, so occupants can sell excess electricity back to the grid.
100 pallets of insulation, made of recycled newspapers, help maintain an even temperature all year and for long hot summers, a thermostatically controlled roof light with rain sensor provides effective passive cooling.
Dirty hand wash water directly flushes the WC and outside a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) made from recycled car tyres relieves stress on the drains – and keeps the drive weed free for life.
The houses use durable materials throughout. Graphene; the strongest material known to science is formulated into the interior paints. This Nobel prizewinning super material prevents cracking because it is 200 times stronger than structural steel. The wooden external cladding is ‘pre-fossilised’ – resistant to rot and UV degradation. Copper guttering and downpipes should last 100 years.
Truly fresh air circulates throughout the building. A discreet, central Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery system (MVHR) cleanses airborne germs and particulates and controls humidity, relieving hayfever, rhinitis and asthma.
Passive materials such as lime plaster help to soak up harmful gasses, control humidity and minimise mould. Ecospheric exceeded the Passivhaus Institute’s requirements by aiming for a petrochemical free building fabric, focusing on natural, breathable materials that avoid harmful off-gassing.
Copper light switches and hand brushed brass surfaces help to stop the spread of viruses and bacteria and electrical wiring minimises Electromagnetic Fields.
Martina Harrison MNAEA, Partner Jordan Fishwick Estate Agents, said, “Ecospheric has achieved a pristine period finish, incorporating stained glass in a passive house, a world first. The building is classic Victorian, the only hint of the tech is a subtle copper strip that blends into the Victorian brickwork to disguise a super-insulated sidewall.”
In the 4m high rear living area is a wood burning stove – not to heat the property but a little winter luxury. By drawing its air from outside the property the stove avoids the drafts typically caused by chimneys and exacerbated by lighting fires.
The kitchen, handcrafted in local timber has hand brushed brass splashbacks, Welsh slate worktops and A+++ rated appliances. Other beautiful features include elaborate plaster cornicing and ceiling roses displaying refurbished LED chandeliers, gold plated taps, iron roll top baths and marble floors.
Ecospheric has achieved a pristine period finish, incorporating stained glass in a passive house, that’s a world first!
Kit Knowles, from Ecospheric says that, “Period semi-detached properties represent a huge portion of the UK’s housing stock, yet they are one of the trickiest formats to upgrade. It’s critical that planners, architects and builders define appropriate methods to tackle them. The UK housing stock of today will account for over 80 per cent of the stock in 2050. New build solutions do not tackle this, it is sustainable retrofit that is critical to meeting the Government’s 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets.”
Martina added, “To have the Victorian charm without the maintenance, drafts and bills is the dream! Ecospheric have created something truly special with Zetland Road. What really struck me is the meticulous attention to detail and the fact that so many of the house’s features work better than what we consider ‘normal’. All that coupled with no maintenance or bills is a very exciting step forward in technology and we look forward to seeing more properties heading in this direction.”
Jon Bootland, Chief Executive Passivhaus Trust, said, “The properties combine the beauty and character of a period property with the world’s highest standards of energy efficiency and are a great addition to the UK’s Passivhaus portfolio.”