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Yesterday our Matt Wood helped lead a debate on ‘Passivhaus’ design as part of the Sustainability 2012 conference at the John Innes Institute. The event was organised by the Chamber of Commerce for Norfolk and sponsored by the Adapt/InCrops project at UEA.

In the final session of the day, chaired by Trevor Ivory of Howes Percival Solicitors, the motion was that ‘Passivhaus Should be the Norfolk Standard’. The motion was supported by Andrew Savage, Director of Broadland Housing Association, whose 250-apartment Carrow Road project is reported to be the largest in the UK currently being designed to Passivhaus standards. Matt was asked to oppose the motion.

‘In a room packed full of Passivhaus enthusiasts that was always going to be a tough gig’, explains Matt, ‘but I’m always up for a challenge!’

Matt tried to convince the audience that despite its many obvious short-comings, the existing Code for Sustainable Homes gives a good holistic framework for sustainable design, in contrast to Passivhaus’s more narrow focus on energy efficiency, and that by the time the Code is fully implemented in 2016 its energy-efficiency component will be broadly comparable with the Passivhaus standard. He concluded by suggesting that the way forward would be to build the powerful Passivhaus design-protocol into the Code (or at least give it ‘Deemed to Comply’ status), rather than introducing it in parallel at a local level.

The motion was carried…but by a respectably narrow margin!

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