Premier screening: The Future of Housing - And How Airtightness Can Help

A video documentary by House Planning Help on the importance of airtightness in our housing featuring Paul Jennings from Aldas, who did the airtightness testing at Mildmay Centre - a retrofit to the Passivhaus standard. We'd love for you to come along to the launch of this exciting project and be one of the first to view the finished video.
 
As it's so close to Christmas, they celebrate with a welcome mulled wine and mince pie for all (plus the usual teas and coffees if you prefer!). The film screening will take place at 7pm but feel free to come along at any time from 6pm to network and/or ask the team any questions that you may have.
 
Mulled wine and mince pie from 6pm.  Screening starts 7pm on Thursday 4th December.
 
Mildmay Centre, Woodville Road, London N16 8NA
 
Tickets £5 click here
 
 
The full synopsis below may give away too much so look away now if you don't like spoilers:
 
Basically it begins with presenter Ben Adam-Smith's predicament – he's 38 and starting a family, so he's going to need a larger house. He'd like to stay in the area he currently lives (Hertford) but he also has concerns about the future. He realises fuel prices will increase and he doesn't want to end up in fuel poverty. He wants a healthy, good quality environment for himself and his family, plus, he understands that we face some serious environmental problems, so would like to do his bit in reducing his carbon emissions.
 
So he'd like a well designed and built energy-efficient and comfortable house.
 
We then introduce Paul Jennings who's the UK's most experienced airtightness tester. He goes around blowing air into or out of houses, to find out where and how much they leak. Building airtight is critical to energy efficiency as air leaks equal heat leaks. But airtightness is also an excellent guide to overall build quality as it's difficult to 'cheat' to obtain a good result. You have to pay attention to small details and build well – something property developers, in particular the profit-centric major ones, fail to do.
 
We test some houses:– a 9 year old developer house *just* meets UK building regulations but the lady who lives there –  a single parent with a young son –  can't afford to keep it warm in the winter, and recognises that there’s no point even trying. So they live in one room – shut the door and still have to wrap themselves up in blankets, while the rest of the house freezes.
 
We test a typical 1950s suburban house - it achieves a marginally better air test result than the 9 year old developer house (which is crazy), and we show how it can be improved by filling in the many air leaks round windows, doors, skirtings, where pipes exit the house through the walls, loft hatches and so forth..
 
The programme then broadens out to look at how we build houses in this country - uniquely in Europe the industry is dominated by a small number of very large developers. They snap up almost all of the available building land, making Ben's preferred option – to self build – very difficult as there are so few possible sites. Totally driven by profit, and supported by a government desperate to see more houses being built, these companies are being allowed to build on valuable green field sites (which makes them more money) and to the lowest standard they can get away with. We're still building houses which put their occupants in fuel poverty, and which still lead to huge releases of CO2 where the occupants who *can* afford to, turn up the heat and burn the gas. None of these houses are future-proof – able to help the occupants withstand the effects of climate change, rising fuel prices and fuel scarcity. These low standards are a contradiction when we have CO2 reduction targets to meet. 
 
We show that part of the problem comes down to the house-buying public - they need to be educated to consider energy efficiency when looking at a property purchase. This alternative approach is very much the norm in Germany, where they have a much higher standard of building than we do, based in part on a more active self-build culture. They also developed the Passivhaus building system which delivers genuinely comfortable, low emissions buildings which people can afford to live in as the running costs are so low. All of this is a million miles away from the UK’s big developer culture – nobody living in a Passivhaus suffers from fuel poverty, but it's not a recognised standard here.
 
Includes interviews from academics and professionals to back up the information, and concludes with Ben continuing his search for a site to self-build – the only way he'll be able to get a house of the quality he wants – but with the overall feeling that the housing situation in the UK is pretty poor compared to elsewhere, and it's all because of greed and big business domination of the market.
 
Date: 
Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 18:00