Zero energy bills for Passivhaus-standard retrofit homes in Manchester

Zero energy bills for Passivhaus-standard retrofit homes in Manchester

We associate low to no energy bills with new-build houses that feature all the latest eco tech. But Ecospheric shows that Victorian houses can be made ultra low energy dwellings too

By Abby Trow
Zetland Road, Manchester - a Victorian eco house

Proof that our Victorian housing stock can be retrofitted to massively reduce energy consumption. Presently nearly 30 per cent of the UK's CO2 emissions are generated from our housing stock and retrofit company Ecospheric says that figure can be greatly reduced without knocking down our old buildings. Pictured above: the zero-energy refurbished villas are on Zetland Road in Chorlton, Manchester

These impressive passive house plus Zetland Road homes demonstrate what a sustainable retrofit can achieve for Victorian buildings. They have needed NO central heating, meaning whoever's lucky enough to buy one will save around £5,000 a year in energy bills and maintenance costs. They generate more power than they use, and outperform 99.9 per cent of new-build properties through their design and deployment of leading technologies that control humidity and purify indoor air, making life easier for sufferers of conditions such as asthma and hayfever.
 
The project to retrofit the homes to Passivhaus standards was undertaken by eco consultants Ecospheric. Partner Kit Knowles says period semi-detached properties, which represent a huge proportion of Britain's housing stock, are one of the trickiest types of building to upgrade: 'It's vital that planners, architects and builders explore and define appropriate methods to tackle them. The UK housing stock of today will account for over 80 per cent of the stock in 2050, so sustainable retrofit is critical to meeting the Government's 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets.'
The kitchen is made from local wood
The 4m high rear sitting room does have a wood burning stove as a little luxury for winter
A house with no central heating... it's insulated with lots of newspaper!
The back of the house has wood clad structures
Bedrooms have wooden floors
Bathrooms are rather luxurious with roll top baths.. well surely it'll short showers mostly and a once a month bathing indulgence in the tub
The homes combine architectural heritage with advance eco-friendly materials and are designed to remain comfortable and warm year-round without a central heating system, while maintaining superb indoor air quality.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof not only power the homes’ lighting and appliances but also heat the hot water tank - ​the first in the world with a thermocline control​. Ad the homes generate more power than they use, owners can sell excess electricity back to the grid.
 
One hundred pallets of insulation, predominantly made of ​recycled newspapers​, help maintain an even temperature year round and should there be heatwaves such as last summer's, a thermostatically-controlled roof light with rain sensor provides effective passive cooling.
 
Hidden in the roof build up,  a vapour-control membrane provides an airtight barrier. Dirty hand-wash water directly flushes the loo and outside a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) made from recycled car tyres not only relieves stress on the drains but keeps the drive weed free.
 
The properties have been fitted with durable materials throughout. Graphene paints have been used throughout - Graphene is the most durable material known to science and paint with its fibres is hugely durable. The wooden cladding on the back of the house  ispre-fossilised, meaning it’s resistant to rot and UV degradation. Copper guttering and downpipes are expected to last over 100 years.
 
Truly fresh air circulates throughout thanks to a discreet central ​Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery ​system (​MVHR​) which cleans the air and controls humidity. Carefully selected passive materials such as lime plaster also help soak up harmful gasses, control humidity and minimise mould. ​Ecospheric have exceeded the Passivhaus Institute’s requirements by achieving a largely petrochemical-free building fabric, focusing on natural, breathable materials that don't off-gas.
 
A wood-burning stove has been installed in the 4m high rear living room, which while not needed to heat the property adds a little winter luxury. By drawing its air from outside the property the stove avoids the drafts typically caused by chimneys.
 
The kitchen is handmade from locally grown timber, with brushed brass splashbacks, Welsh slate worktops and A+++ rated appliances. Other beautiful features include elaborate plaster cornicing and ceiling roses while lighting is all super low energy LED.
 
Ecospheric even ​incorporated ​stained glass in this passive house - a world first. From the street the building looks classically Victorian with its decorative path, cast stone steps and ornate porch. The only hint of the wealth of technology within is a subtle copper strip that blends into the traditional Victorian brickwork to disguise a super-insulated sidewall.
 
 
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