Forgebank, a pioneering Lancashire eco development from Lancaster Cohousing, has been shortlisted for a national building award.
Forgebank consists of 41 homes by the banks of the River Lune at Halton and is one of three developments shortlisted in the social housing project category of the UK Passsivhaus Awards 2013, which will be judged this week.
Passivhaus is a highly energy efficient building design pioneered in Germany. Passivhaus homes achieve this efficiency in three ways: making use of solar gain from south facing windows, not losing heat by being super insulated and airtight, and through a heat recovery ventilation system.
Forgebank is the largest certified Passivhaus development in the UK and research done by Sheffield and Leeds Metropolitan universities show that the completed houses perform exceptionally well in terms of energy saving, as well as being places people enjoy living.
“After living in a Victorian house for the last 20 years, I thought cold draughts were a fact of life but our new Passivhaus has none!,” said resident Huw Johnson. " Everybody who walks in asks us if we have our heating on as it feels so warm - we don't. This is seriously impressive technology we're living in."
His neighbour, Dr Jan Maskell, agrees: “It has exceeded all my expectations with regard to comfort, warmth and air quality. The utility bills are exceptionally low and the systems are easy to use. From my personal experience I would have no hesitation recommending these Passivehaus designs to others ''
The development is about more than sustainable living. Cohousing, which originated in Denmark, is about creating a community and the Forgebank design encourages social interaction between neighbours with a pedestrian street, common house, children's room, communal laundry and guest rooms.
“The most significant thing is going beyond the Passivhaus criteria and embellishing the project to make it a wonderful place to live,” said Andrew Yeats, from Eco Arc Architects near Kendal, who designed the project with Lancaster Cohousing.
The result is a neighbourhood based upon ecological values, where it is very easy to live a low carbon, sustainable lifestyle in comfort.
Film maker and cohousing resident, Frances Bowen, has made a video about Passivhaus construction filmed in Forgebank.
• For more information about Lancaster Cohousing or to find out about living there, go to www.lancastercohousing.org.uk