Passive house and low energy buildings: Barriers and opportunities for future development within UK practice

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This paper describes research carried out to understand better the current and future emphases emerging from practice for the design and development of "Passive House" and low energy buildings. The paper initially discusses the extant position, particularly with regards to the UK and considers how regulation and assessment systems have changed in recent years, as well as projecting ideas forward taking account of contemporary political situations. Relevant previous research into Passive House and low energy design and construction is then reviewed. The need for greater understanding of professionals and their communication/collaboration with clients were identified as important factors impacting development. Those involved in the design and construction practice therefore have key roles in the process of enhancing energy efficiency. Five industry/practice based professional organizations were interviewed in-depth to gain insights into their experience of current low energy design, and to extrapolate the outcomes to future scenarios. The method employed used a structured interview technique with key question areas to lead the discussion. The anonymized responses discussed are grouped around key themes. Evidence suggests there has been a move towards the adoption of voluntary high level standards because of potential limitations with mandatory regulations and because of perceived additional benefits of higher quality design. This change is now more than previously, being driven by informed clients, design professionals, and the industry, with regulation taking a secondary role. New opportunities and barriers are becoming evident and these require further consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number272
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017


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