Goldsmith Street in Norwich is notable for many reasons. It’s one of the few housing developments to be built by a local authority without the assistance of a private developer. But more impressive, perhaps, is the fact these are among the most energy-efficient homes ever built in Britain. Indeed, annual heating bills are likely to be around £150.
But how did they achieve this?
This 100-home development was built to Passivhaus standards, a strict set of building codes originating in Germany. Historically, Passivhaus properties have been regarded as somewhat unattractive, as David Mikhail, of Mikhail Riches architects, explained to the Guardian: “Most existing examples are pretty ugly: rendered boxes with small north-facing windows.” In other words, with Passivhaus, architectural beauty is often sacrificed for the sake of maximum energy efficiency.
But the Goldsmith Street development is different: curved brick corners, hidden rooftop patios, and cleverly located windows ensure each home is aesthetically pleasing, liveable, and blessed with plenty of natural light.
The critical role of air tightness testing
David Mikhail said the code was “onerous in a good way”. The properties had to undergo no less than three air tightness tests, during and after construction.
Mikhail continued: “One pinprick in a membrane can destroy the whole thing. At one point, the builders had to go around with a thermal imaging camera to find one small tear. There’s no cutting corners.”
In an age when fuel poverty is such a big issue, developments such as Goldsmith Street demonstrate how heating bills can be slashed to less than £13 per month, in a cost-effective way.
This development also shows that air tightness testing plays a critical role in creating quality, affordable, energy-efficient housing that could help make fuel poverty a thing of the past.
Do you require air tightness testing services on your development? Here at Air Tightness Testing Ltd., we work with all kinds of housing development stakeholders, including private developers, local authorities, housing associations and architectural firms.
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We are registered with iATS (Independent AirTightness Testing Scheme) and use equipment calibrated by UKAS laboratories. Our testing procedures are also recognised by UKAS.