The Vale Passive Window Story

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The Vale Passive Window Story

Hypothesis

That it should be possible to design and certify a passivhaus window and door system that can be manufactured by Welsh joiners using Welsh materials. By this means establish a Welsh leadership in low carbon timber window manufacturing to help the Welsh economy benefit from the growth in demand for Passivhaus products.

Method

Gather a team of potential stakeholder joinery companies; together with German window manufacturer Bayer (Doublegood Windows); a UK based passivhaus window designer (Bill Robertson); bere:architects as overall coordinaters; and BRE Wales with its subsidiary Woodknowledge Wales. Very limited funds were available. Bere:architects, BRE and Bayer (Doublegood) gave their time entirely for free, Bill Robertson also gave a great deal of time and travel for free, receiving a small remuneration fee for production of drawings. The joinery companies were completely un-funded and put energy and resources into the project from their own development budgets. 

Results

The new Vale Passive Window system was designed as an inward opening swivel-and-tilt system by Bill Robertson in 2010. It uses Euroslot fittings from a manufacturer approved by all the stakeholders. Bere:architects took the window through the certification process and the windows were certified by the Passivhaus Institute in 2010. Prototype windows and a front door were manufactured by Custom Precision Joinery under close guidance from Bill Robertson, and installed in 2010 at the Lime House passivhaus low-cost social housing prototype, designed by bere:architects, located at The Works, Ebbw Vale.

Conclusions

The Vale Passive Window system sets a new standard in the UK for energy efficient, long-life, home-produced timber windows. It is the most radical development in window design in Wales for decades - it opens up massive new potential for Welsh timber to deliver not only new opportunities for high efficiency buildings but also new jobs in manufacture and fitting. However to reduce manufacturing costs and be cost-competitive against similar passivhaus certified imported windows and doors, investment and funding are needed. This has not yet been forthcoming.

This project initiated a research project into timber in Wales and manufacturing opportunities - see link below:

http://www.bere.co.uk/research/integrated-strategies-welsh-timber-industry
 

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