Friday, 20 November 2015

Affordable housing project wins Passive House Institute Awards

Another advantage of these low energy buildings is a reduction in fuel poverty. I was recently corrected by Green Party Energy Spokesperson Andrew Cooper that it's not fuel poverty, it's just poverty. Good, old fashioned poverty. If people don't have to pay expensive fuel bills, they will be less poor.

Usually the people renting houses are paying fuel bills, while the house owners are responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the building, such as increasing the levels of insulation, or the efficiency of the heating equipment. If it's your own house, and your own fuel bills, there's a strong incentive to put in better insulation. If it's not, then there is less incentive. It's not always true, but generally speaking people who are poor do not own homes.

Proud Green Home reported recently on affordable housing in the US that recently received an award.

Exeter council in the UK has also built over forty council homes to Passive House standards. It has been found that tenants in low energy houses are less likely to miss rent. In a conventional high-energy house, tenants have to pay rent and heating bills. If money gets tight, they have to choose which one they can pay. Don't pay rent and you may be evicted. Don't pay heating and you may get sick and end up in hospital. Neither is a good choice. If the landlord is the council, then obviously tenants not paying rent is bad news, but tenants ending up in hospital is also bad news. Passive houses reduce the heating bills to a trivial amount, so both tenants and councils are less likely to get to that difficult situation.

The extra costs involved in building Passive Houses, if there are any, are much less than these long-term social costs. Since Passive Houses generally last better and need less maintenance, there are long term savings there too. There are several critics of the Thatcherite Right to Buy, but even if the councils intend to sell off their houses, and will have to do so at a discount of the market value, this may help them since Passive Houses have higher resale value.