Research is a vital and integral part of bere:architects’ work. The practice's research activities are intended to help find a route-map to re-building appropriate manufacturing technologies and skills in the UK that can support the UK's drive towards lower carbon emissions. Our Passivhaus research work ultimately seeks to find solutions that have the potential to thrive and be competitive and at the same time reduce the UK's reliance on imported fuel, technologies and raw materials.
Bere:architects is carrying out its own extensive cost analysis work on the actual cost of Passivhaus construction, particularly the cost of Passivhaus housing. This work uses data derived from our completed and certified Passivhaus prototype houses, including low cost social housing. The work is being carried out by bere:architects' own staff together with an independent cost consultant and a senior research student with an investment banking background.
Bere:architects has initiated energy performance monitoring and evaluation research work on four of its Passivhaus projects. This work is being carried out in partnership with Universities and other research organisations and funded by the UK Government's Technology Strategy Board with the purpose of obtaining objective advice for bere:architects and their teams of consultants, and disseminating lessons into the wider community. Results will be published in due course, but already outstandingly good co-heating test results are being reported.
Two Passivhaus Enerphit retrofit projects, funded by the Technology Strategy Board, are underway. These projects will have their actual energy consumption measured against predicted, and will have their comfort and performance assessed by independent evaluators. By the adoption of the Soft Landings protocol, findings will be shared with those closely involved in the projects, as well as the wider community, through presentations and publications.
Bere:architects completed an 18 month knowledge transfer partnership with the Austrian timber prefabrication experts, Kaufmann Zimmerei. This embedded the most advanced European timber framing technology expertise within the practice, along with practical knowledge of the highest standards of low toxicity, health enhancing construction. The practice is now skilled and experienced in the highest quality of timber frame design, built efficiently to achieve the lowest possible cost.
Bere:architects initiated a three year ongoing partnership with Bayer Schreinerei and this has embedded unrivalled knowledge in the UK of advanced high performance Passivhaus window and door construction and installation techniques. This knowledge has been instrumental in achieving some of the best air test results so far achieved in the UK, both in new buildings and refurbishments.
Bere:architects initiated and supported the study, Integrated Strategies for the Welsh Timber Industry, by Thomas Stoney Bryans. This forms part of the practice's ongoing research into appropriate technologies for a Low Carbon Britain. Interesting lessons have emerged from this study, including the need to have a strategic national plan for the growth of manufacturing, skills and local resources. We also indicate what that plan might include. The lessons learnt are applicable to the whole of the UK, not only Wales, and the work is ongoing, but would be assisted by outside funding and further support.
To assist in its thirst for knowledge, the practice has invested heavily in specialist equipment and in-house expertise in thermal modelling, thermal imaging, energy modelling, building physics, and in-use energy measurement and ‘soft landings’ protocols.