What to Build?

So we had a plot. Now what?

Obviously we want to build a house. Not a house to sell for money, but a house for us to live in for the next 20+ years.

Like most people, we've followed the explosion in renewable energy technology over the last few years with interest and thought that our new house would make extensive use of them. Having plenty of land we initially envisaged ground source heat pumps, solar PV panels and so on - truly the green lobbies wet dream.

Looking around on the web for information we started seeing a lot of references that caused us to pause and reconsider. Was building a "regular" house and using renewables to make it cheap to run really a green solution? Our current house isn't that old and is well insulated but when the wind blows we feel it. The sudden swings of temperature we experience tend to leave our heating system struggling to catch up. Would building a similar house, albeit one that had a lot more renewables be the best thing to do?

There aren't many certainties in the world, but rising energy prices seem like a good bet. As we're only going to build our own house once, was this really the way forward? Time for more research.

Once we started looking at low energy and sustainable house technology, one term kept appearing - Passive House.

It's a standard that dates back to the 1990's but has taken a long while to become well known. It approaches building a house from a different perspective and the more we read about it the more it made sense to us, emphasising the fabric and positioning of the building over the simple addition of renewables. Surely this was a better way to build for the future?

It turns out we're not the only ones who think this way. Zach Semke has a well researched and argued document about the future of energy usage that is well worth a read. Of course he's also a devoted fan of Passive House...

The next step seemed obvious - find out more about passive house!