Jonathan Hines from Architype, an Ashden Award winner in 2009, talks to Juliet Heller about designing buildings that are affordable, look good, and use less energy.
Architype puts this approach into practice by focusing on passivhaus techniques. Passivhaus is a rigorous approach to building, designed to radically reduce energy consumption and achieve maximum internal comfort. Passivhaus buildings save carbon simply by using less energy. Architype has recently designed two passivhaus schools in Wolverhampton which will be completed this summer. They will be the first in the country.
Jonathan Hines: "The beauty of passivhaus is that it's not about ticking boxes, it is a design tool that really works. You can aim to build a low-carbon building by adding renewables but find that the technology doesn't perform as well as you'd hoped in practice. With passivhaus you know that it works, it will get the energy down lower, and it will last for the long term".
"In the current climate of austerity measures, designing buildings well to save energy is the way to go, not spending more money on technologies that just offset carbon".
"We should be setting energy targets for buildings instead of carbon targets. This would encourage people to design buildings that use less energy in the first place, instead of relying on offsetting. The concept is an obvious one but so important: Buildings need to be designed better to improve their energy efficiency".
(pic: Jonathan Hines outside Architype's office, built to high standards of energy efficiency, constructed largely using wood and based on an existing barn).