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Lancaster Cohousing Project

Location: Lancaster
Completion Status: Certified Occupancy: Occupied August 2012
Architect: Eco Arc Architects Consultant: Passivhaus consultant- Alan Clarke; QS Project Manager- Turner & Holman; Civil & Structural Engineers- Ramboll; Landscape Architect- Camlin Lonsdale
Contractor: Whittle Construction Client: Lancaster Cohousing
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WINNER: UK Passivhaus Awards 2013 - Social Housing Category. Lancaster Cohousing Project is a certified Passivhaus / Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 (carbon neutral) and Life Time Homes, affordable community housing project. This groundbreaking exemplary (car free) owner occupied eco housing project has evolved through a participatory design process with the 41 individual householders and EcoArc Architects.

The aim was to design a neighbourhood based upon Passivhaus / ecological values, where it is very easy to live a low carbon, sustainable lifestyle. Currently the largest certified Passivhaus housing project in the UK, the community has forty-one households ranging from:

  • 23 three bed family houses
  • 12 two bed family houses
  • 6 one bed flats

The development is designed to facilitate casual social interaction and to encourage sharing. Shared community facilities include:

  • on site workspace
  • common house for shared meals, socialising and events
  • laundry
  • bike store and workshop
  • food cooperative & orchard. The community owns 2.5 ha of land including woodland which it is managing and restoring with native plants.
  • guest bedrooms
  • children’s room
  • car club and all vehicles are kept to the edge of the site.

The homes and hot water are heated by a district heating system. This has a 5000 litre storage vessel heated by a 40kW solar thermal array and a 150kW boiler fuelled by local wood chip. There are 50 kW of photovoltaics connected via an electricity micro-grid.  A proposed micro hydro scheme, due for completion next year, will mean that Lancaster Cohousing becomes a net exporter of energy.

The project generally achieved the desired Passivhaus targets within a good safety margin. The best air tightness test result was 0.35 Achieved Air Changes, ACH-1 @ 50 Pa, in compliance with Passive House procedures and ATTMA TSL1 (2010). The best PHPP results were achieved for Terrace F with a verified Space Heating Demand of 10 kWh/(m2.a), Heating Load of 9 W/m² and Specific Primary Energy Demand (DHW, Heating, Cooling, Auxiliary and Household Electricity) of 74 kWh/(m2.a) 

The Technology Strategy Board Building Performance Evaluation project was undertaken in collaboration with The University of Sheffield, Leeds Metropolitan University and Closed Loops Projects, which consisted of a number of closely interrelated studies comparing design intentions against actual performance during the initial occupation stage of the development confirmed the performance standards closely related to the design intentions. A Building Use Studies (BUS) survey was undertaken 36 responses were obtained out of 36 questionnaires delivered (100%).  Overall, the results produced were excellent. Residents were very positive about this development and how well it performs. The eight summary variables covering air quality, comfort, design, perceived health, lighting, needs, noise and temperature were all higher or better than the UK 2011 BUS Housing benchmark. Comparisons against the dataset showed that five of the summary variables at Lancaster Cohousing were either the highest or second highest performers when compared against other studies. Fionn Stevenson has confirmed this is an exceptional achievement.

UK Passivhaus Awards 2013- PROJECT FACTFILE

Shortlisted for UK Passivhaus Awards- Social Housing

Eco Arc Architects

Lancaster Cohousing Project