Straw built eco homes receive Passivhaus accreditation

The construction method used in the UK’s first commercially available straw eco homes has been recognised by industry for its energy standard, being awarded the prestigious Passivhaus accreditation.

The ModCell straw panel technology, which was developed in partnership with researchers from our Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, has been recognised for this award having also recently received BM Trada’s Q mark certification.

Whilst the BM Trada Q mark certification recognises the quality of a construction method, the internationally-recognised Passivhaus accreditation recognises a building design’s energy efficiency.

For a building design to achieve the Passivhaus standard in the UK, a number of aspects must be achieved including: very high levels of insulation; extremely high performance windows with insulated frames; airtight building fabric; 'thermal bridge free' construction; and a mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery.

The University has been working with ModCell for eight years developing and testing the innovative panels, and following a three year EUR 1.8m EuroCell research project, the Q mark certification was achieved.

Professor Pete Walker, head of the University of Bath's Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

Professor Pete Walker, Head of the University of Bath's Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

Professor Pete Walker, Head of the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering at the University, led the research which resulted in the Q

mark certification and now Passivhaus accreditation. He said: “The University of Bath is delighted to see the impact of our on-going successful collaborative research with ModCell resulting in the Passivhaus certification.”

The Passivhaus accreditation covers whole building designs using the ModCell design technology. There are now 26 standard construction details allowing whole building envelopes to be designed using the ModCell system including basement, wall and roof intersections as well as ceiling, partition and window details that can be used across Europe.

Craig White, Director at White Design and ModCell commented: “We are delighted to have secured the world’s first Passivhaus Component Certifications for straw bale construction. The unique combination of Passivhaus Component Certification, ModCell’s low-carbon, renewable materials and the Flying Factory delivery models, means that there is no other building system that can deliver triple-bottom-line sustainable development in quite the same way. Our journey towards building a low-carbon, affordable and sustainable future just got easier.”

Our Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering was ranked equal first in the UK in Architecture & the Built Environment for the high quality and international impact of its research (2014 Research Excellence Framework). In the assessment, 85 per cent of its research output was judged to be internationally excellent while 90 per cent of its research impact was judged outstanding.

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