STEPPING UP FOR PASSIVHAUS FIRST February 2012
A new £1.5 million regional office for Interserve Construction in Leicester, equipped with an intelligent Levolux Solar Shading solution, becomes the first Zero Carbon commercial office development to be built in the UK, achieving Passivhaus accreditation.
The Passivhaus principle reduces a building’s energy consumption by up to 90%, compared with traditional construction methods. It relies on a highly insulated, air-tight envelope, use of passive heating and cooling methods, highly efficient mechanical ventilation and control of solar heat gain and daylight levels.
Following Interserve’s challenging brief, CPMG Architects and Couch Perry & Wilkes succeeded in bringing together these critical elements to deliver a 6,000 sq foot, two-storey office building, which can claim to be one of the most energy efficient in the UK.
The building’s south-facing elevation has full height, triple-glazed panels to maximise passive heating in the winter. This is only possible with the application of fully optimised, external Solar Shading. As the UK’s leading Solar Shading specialist, Levolux was approached to ensure project specific performance criteria were met to limit solar heat gain, as well as controlling glare and daylight levels.
The Levolux solution comprised of 20 motorised, external Venetian Blinds, arranged into two groups, with 10 Blinds on each floor. Each group of Blinds is connected to a standalone Levolux multi-controller, which automates the Blinds in accordance with readings from an external light and wind sensor. This intelligent configuration of external Venetian Blinds ensures they continue to function automatically at their peak efficiency and are retracted in high winds to prevent damage.
Each Venetian Blind is fitted into a bay measuring almost 2 metres in width, with a maximum drop of 2290mm, and is equipped with 80mm wide roll-formed solid aluminium slats, reinforced with black UV resistant ladder cords and lift tapes. When fully raised, the slats are concealed within an aluminium headbox, which measures 288mm high and 150mm deep and also houses the motor.
When the sun shines in the summer, the Blinds are automatically lowered and the slats closed to absorb and reflect the sun’s rays, protecting the building from excessive solar heat gain. As the sun’s rays weaken during the winter, the slats are gradually opened and can be fully raised to maximise passive heating and daylight levels.
All aluminium components have been given an attractive dark grey gloss enamelled finish. The fully automated Venetian Blinds installed by Levolux for Interserve, are backed with the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.
The new Passivhaus certified regional office for Interserve sets a new benchmark for commercial office developments in the UK and by maximising use of passive energy, such as the optimised Solar Shading solution from Levolux, the building delivers a very high level of comfort for occupants with very low energy consumption. In fact following installation of PV panels on the roof the project is now Caron Negative with an EPC rating of -2.