Housing providers and local authorities from Brittany, France and the South West learn how one of the first UK Passivhaus certified low energy affordable housing schemes in Exeter performs.  
Emma Osmundsen (Housing Development Manager – Exeter City Council) in the foreground of the image below with Gale & Snowden Architects (G&S) with French and British delegates outside the Passivhaus scheme Rowan House.  The day was also made up by the attendance of G&S Architect Tomas Gartner (in the foreground) who is from Germany and the Passivhaus designer of the schemes presented.   It turned out to be a very informed multi-cultural and European exchange of Passivhaus ideas and learning from three different countries.     
French and British local councillors together with housing providers and various industry professionals from the South West, Devon County Council, Exeter City Council and Wiltshire Council visited two social housing schemes in Exeter built to the Passivhaus standard to learn about how the buildings have actually performed with regards to energy consumption and indoor comfort.   Both buildings have been extensively monitored and evaluated through funding by the Technology Strategy Board and this monitoring work has been delivered by the housing scheme designers themselves, Gale & Snowden Architects. In order to maximise comfort and well being, this two year project is ensuring that the new housing tenants get to grips with the various energy saving technologies installed in their home thanks to training and interviews and  energy and indoor quality monitoring. The learning from this project will inform future designs and is vital in understanding the level of support required to help tenants use effectively the low energy features of their new home. 

The day was split into two halves; the Passivhaus presentations were held in the morning in Exeter’s medieval Guild Hall followed by the tour of the Passivhaus schemes after lunch;     the morning venue being at the complete opposite end of the energy spectrum when compared to the afternoon visit.  French and British visitors were welcomed by Exeter City Council (ECC) Housing Development Manager, Emma Osmunsden and had the opportunity to discuss their experience.  Gale & Snowden then presented the results of the monitoring so far.   The delegates also enjoyed a warm welcome from one of the tenants who shared her positive experience of moving into a low energy Passivhaus home. 

The two housing schemes called Rowan House and Knights Place were designed by low energy and ecological Architects Gale & Snowden and managed by ECC. These homes not only benefit from high levels of insulation, “airtightness”, a whole-house ventilation system with efficient heat recovery, and hot solar water panels but they are also designed to be as healthy as possible with no PVC used in the construction, the installation of ceramic tiles throughout to reduce dust mites and radial electrical circuits to reduce electro-magnetic fields which are believed to carry health risks.
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Emma providing a warm welcome to delegates

The exchange was a real success with both French and British visitors taking a lot of learning home. This cross channel exchange was part of another EU funded project on sustainable energy between local councils on both side of the Channel, which Gale & Snowden were happy to collaborate with as part of the monitoring dissemination activities  – SEACS is a €2 million project selected by the European Cross-border Co-operation Programme INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England and is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Conseil General des Côtes d’Armor, Devon County Council, Dorset County Council, Agglomeration Lannion-Tregor and Wiltshire Council.

G&S presenting monitoring results

Gale & Snowden would like to thank Emma and Gary (ECC housing team) for their input throughout the day in particular sharing ECC’s experience of delivering and managing the first multi residential Passivhaus building in the UK.  Gale & Snowden would also like to thank Rose the tenant at Rowan House who warmly received 30 delegates in her Passivhaus flat to share her positive experiences of living there.   A special thanks also goes to Doe Fitzsimmons of Devon County Council who as well as organising and co-ordinating the whole day through the SEACS project also had a very tiring time translating all the presentations live throughout the course of the day.  It was a job well done!


Devon County Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Community and Environmental Services, said “The SEACS project is working with communities and schools throughout Devon to tackle the energy challenge together, by raising awareness of the cost of energy and the range of options available to help manage consumption. This SEACS event has enabled Exeter City Council’s experience to be shared with other housing agencies in Devon to inform future schemes for Devon’s residents, as well as our partners in the south west and France”.

If anybody would like to know more about the Passivhaus monitoring research, healthy building design or Passivhaus low energy design then please contact David Gale (david@ecodesign.co.uk) and we would be more than happy to present our research and findings, designs and ideas.
Some quotes below from the delegates who attended. 
“All the partners from Lannion-Trégor Communauté have been very happy and fully pleased with the day, the information provided and the atmosphere.”
“Dear Doe and Emma, That was fantastic. Thank you so much for organising it.  You should be really proud of your team.”
“This is just a short note to thank you for the time, patience and soaking you took to show us round your projects. We had a blast.  I am sure we will be able to promote passivhaus ideals here in Wiltshire as a result of it.”
“I thought the day was just perfect, so well planned and executed. It was a fabulous opportunity to meet not just the French but other Councils too.  I am very grateful for all your time, trouble and efforts which made the day a complete success.”
Presentations prepared for the day

Knights Place & Rowan House Introduction

TSB Passivhaus Monitoring Introduction
Passivhaus Monitoring Dissemination Results