Passive House: Active Saving Through Smart Insulation

Passmore Street Passive House Enviroform Aerogel
Passmore Street.

Enviroform Insulation in Central London Retrofit

Enviroform Solutions played a key role in the refurbishment process and upgrade of two historic properties to Enerphit standard in Passmore Street in Belgravia, Westminster, central London. Enerphit Standard is the Passive House Institutes benchmark for renovation.

The work was at the forefront of efforts by Grosvenor Great Britain and Ireland to reduce the carbon footprint across its extensive property portfolio. It is trying to reduce its carbon footprint by 38% and the Passmore street properties are the first in a series of planned refurbishments.

Passive House buildings maintain pleasant indoor temperatures year round with extremely low energy demands. Such buildings require careful design, thorough planning and meticulous execution.

Grosvenor have chosen the Passive House Standard because they believe it offers more practical benefits – it focuses on energy efficiency, building fabric and indoor air quality. The key target is to keep these buildings viable as residential or office accommodation for the next 300 years.

Aerogel Insulation

In completing the upgrade, the architect, Sturgis Carbon Profiling (SCP) specified Aerogel insulation supplied by Enviroform Solutions. The exterior façade of the historic properties had to be maintained so internal wall insulation was the only viable option.

This meant losing some of the internal floor area and with that, potentially a loss of rental income because of decreased space. This can amount to a significant sum over time. Aerogel being ultra thin and ultra light was the obvious solution to this issue.

Liam Brown of Enviroform Solutions explained: “Aerogel’s breathable qualities help reduce the risk of condensation. The exterior walls were rendered to prevent rain and moisture getting into the building fabric. The design also took account of thermal bridges – points in the building where cold structures penetrate the insulation layer and cause loss of heat and/or build up of moisture and condensation potentially leading to damp and mould.”

He continued: “ One of the lessons on embarking on this type of refurbishment is to source the right builder. A typical competitive tender would have resulted in a builder who would try and cut corners right until the death.’ And what is required in these projects is a patient approach that shows understanding of the subtle issues involved.”

Liam added: “The Passmore Street properties are now the first privately rented Enerphit projects in London. Potentially this is the way to proceed but there needs to be a lot more understanding of the issues involved amongst the building community. Property owners and consumers also need to understand the benefits of a passive house in terms of health and saving costs.”

“There will be a premium to pay in adopting this approach – the initial costs on these research retrofits were indeed more expensive that typical whole building upgrades.”

“The aim would be to get that premium down to around 5% and then recover that cost and more over the life of the building through savings in heat and eliminating problems caused by damp and mould. The refurbished buildings will see a reduction in the amount of their CO2 emissions over a 60 year life cycle.”

He concluded: “The evidence is there to show that this can be the way to go forward in refurbishing and preserving older buildings. With the current property market in Ireland its is clear that the energy of the building trade over the coming years will be in refurbishing and retrofitting older properties that present challenges of their own. We need to understand these issues and plan accordingly.”




Thermo Soc – Revolutionary Solution to Socket Heat Loss

Thermo-Soc Stops Heat Loss

ThermoSoc is a new product developed to control vapour and heat loss when electric sockets / switches are installed into internal wall insulation systems.

Simple to Install


Air Tight

Vapour Tight

Exact Cutting

ThermoSoc is manufactured by attaching a 1mm steel plate, complete with self-adhesive tape around its perimeter to an insulated socket box.

The insulation layer is created by a 10mm layer of Aerogel as standard, and this is located between the steel plate and the vapour control layer.

The vapour control layer encapsulates a socket box with a rubber mat located on the back face to create a seal when the wires are pulled through.

For full product installation guide: ThermoSoc Information & Installation Guide

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here? Insulating Older Buildings.

english_heritage_300The Purgatory of Damp and Mould

Whether you have an extensive property portfolio, or whether it merely extends to the four walls around you and the roof above your head, you want it to last as long as possible. Well, don’t you?

The older your building, the more likely it is to come with challenges of its own. If it is old and hard to heat worse. Add in a mild to chronic case of mould and builders will tell you you’re looking at a whole lot of trouble. For some of us these problems may only come to light when we try to sell the building and the surveyor raises a few ‘minor’ issues.

Common wisdom tells us that older buildings can be full of character, quaint, unique and come laden with problems. A small tell tale patch of damp or a smoor of mould can be the clue to whole host of questions that spell trouble ahead. That’s the traditional view.

But actually, that is no longer the case. If the fundamental causes of damp, mould and heat loss are targeted and treated at source by a knowledgeable team of professionals – architects, builders and insulation specialists like ourselves working together – then solutions are at hand. You know the scene, the builder shaking his head ruefully faced with another problem. The job total tallying up in his head as our hopes sink.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

There is another way. Experience has shown us that if you source the right building contractor, one who is sensitive to and aware of the different demands of older buildings; someone who realises that one size does not fit all, you can be on to a real winner in very many ways.

Typically a tender for a building refurbishment will be competitive and won by the lowest cost quote. Owning a heritage property isn’t an avenue to saving costs by short terms fixes. Saving money now won’t necessarily save you money in the longer term. In fact it’s a case of insulate in haste, regret at your leisure.

Heritage Preservation and Retrofit Experience

Liam Brown of Enviroform Solutions explains: “We’ve been involved in a series of heritage preservation and restoration projects where the builder has had to have an acute understanding firstly of the original materials used in the building and how they perform in and react to damp. Based on an initial survey we can diagnose the cause to avoid the symptoms at source.

“It’s not so long ago that few architects would have even thought of being able to retrofit a property to achieve the passive house standard. But now, with advanced materials, building specific solutions and greater knowledge and understand it is possible. Liam explained:

Passive House Standard Explained

Passive House is the world‘s leading standard in energy efficient construction. But what does that mean. Liam explains:

“The Passive House Standard stands for quality, comfort and energy efficiency. Passive Houses require very little energy to achieve a comfortable temperature year round, making conventional heating and air conditioning systems obsolete. While delivering superior levels of comfort, the Passive House Standard also protects the building structure.

“Previously in preserving older buildings, the typical solution to internal wall insulation was and most often still is to us natural breathable materials such as lime and calcium silicate. Insulating internal walls heavily has been avoided due to a fear of causing condensation between the old wall and the new insulation. The temperature drops, water vapour condenses and that can lead to mould.

Cold Bridging Technology

The thinking has changed however using new technology and new materials. Liam outlined how modern insulation is different:

“We can identify where there are cold bridges, where the problem areas potentially can occur and we can head them off at source. Our custom designed aerogel insulation is an extremely effective solution in these instances.

“It is synthetic, breathable yet highly insulating. It also is extremely light and thin when fitted. The knock on effect of that is very positive news for property owners in that the net effect of using a narrow insulation material on your internal walls is that there isn’t a significant reduction in floor space – rentable floor space if you’re in the commercial market.

“In office refurbishment for example space is the key driver. By saving the client 30mm on his wall insulation gains him more revenue from extra rental floor space and at city centre rates this is significant over the life of the property. Depending on the size of the property this can add up to 200ft plus and quite simply the figures speak for themselves.”

“There are projects in which we have supplied the internal wall insulation where some of the best real estate in the world in Central London is still rentable and has retained and increased its value, because the buildings have been future proofed with state of the art insulation. The buildings are in better shape than the day they were built.”

If you have a heritage property that you need to insulate, contact Enviroform Solutions for a survey now.



Responsible Retrofit for Sustainable Buildings

Duncairnafter_300Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance conference

This week Enviroform was one of a number of specialist insulation experts that attended the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance conference on Responsible Retrofit for Sustainable buildings. We attended along with a large number of heritage groups, research organizations and building specialists.

Liam Brown explained: “The whole focus was on how to responsibly retrofit heritage properties and the need for more research on the effects these measures may have.

“The most comment tread by the majority of the speakers was the emphasis on design and detailing to eliminate thermal bridging at critical junctions. Coming up with a common principle and approach which can be adapted to suit different property design, fabric and location.”

He added: “Across the UK there are a lot of homes and buildings that were designed and built using materials that pose a challenge fifty, seventy, a hundred or more years later. In the UK for example over a fifth of homes were built at the start of the last century. A lot of these are now rental properties and over the years, successive owners have adopted a sticking plaster approach to the insulation and heating problems that have arisen. Damp. mould, structural issues. These become critical over time.

Why is this a problem? Liam explained: “These buildings form the fabric of homes across the UK and there needs to be a sustainable agreed approach on the best way to preserve them for future generations to live in. A one size fits all approach is a recipe for problems. People who have bought these properties need to know how to maintain them. People renting them need to be able to live in a healthy home which is difficult if it has damp and mould.”

Liam continued: “If you are the owner of an older building and you are concerned about these issues, the reality is that now more than ever there are a range of affordable modern materials and approaches that can sort the problem. The key is in knowing which materials to use to increase the energy efficiency of each building. Each building has its own challenges and it is up to people like ourselves to come up with solutions that are Building specific.

“This conference tackled these issues, and it is reassuring to know that there are a lot of like minded people in the industry. The key is a partnership approach with Local Authorities, Housing Associations and private landlords playing their part alongside some of the organisations within the built environment and heritage sectors that understand these problems on a day-to-day basis.”

Liam concluded: “The conference was aimed at those of us involved in retrofit programmes and we were able to look at the problems and solutions through workshops, hands-on training sessions, and case studies.”