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UK's first Passivhaus care home
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The UK’s first Passivhaus care home will provide residents with excellent air quality for a six per cent uplift in design and build costs which will be recouped by energy cost savings in just eight years.
UK's first Passivhaus care home

Developed by Castleoak for Barchester Healthcare, Juniper House in Brackley, Northamptonshire has been funded by Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, which invests in projects that can demonstrate environmental leadership.

The groundbreaking, 60-bed home has been designed to produce half the CO2 emissions and reduce energy costs by 40%, when compared with a typical 60-bed, timber frame care home. It is both the UK’s first care home and largest building to achieve the pioneering PH environmental standard, which originated in Germany and focuses on fresh air ventilation via a heat exchanger and air-tightness to create excellent air quality while reducing energy consumption.

Comprising a floor area of 2932m2, the building used a highly insulated timber frame construction and UK manufactured triple glazed, Krypton gas filled Rehau uPVC windows throughout the development. Heating and hot water is provided by a gas boiler with heat recovery installed to the mechanical ventilation system for the bedrooms. A VRV heat recovery system with inverter controlled heat pumps provides air conditioning for the communal areas of the building. These systems are designed so heating and cooling will not occur at the same time.

Other features contributing to the building’s energy efficiency include low-energy light fittings, infrared sensors and time switches for internal and external lighting. A comfortable, stable temperature is achieved through the combination of very efficient air source heat pumps and Passivhaus-compliant heat recovery units.

According to Knight, “buildability” and careful selection of materials, fixtures and systems were key to keeping costs down while aiming for the highest environmental standard, all while achieving the original build programme.

“Our objective was to minimise additional costs and therefore the payback term for the operator,” he said.

“So we outlined the exact additional investment required and calculated the achievable future savings using energy usage data we had collected from existing care homes we had built and comparing it with existing Passivhaus information. Our approach was to balance pioneering and practical, ensuring the building will not only meet the strict Passivhaus standard, but also the requirements Barchester specifies for its care homes. Fortunately, both have the health and comfort of residents at the top of their list.”

The team was supported throughout the project by certified Passivhaus consultant, Dr Caroline Weeks, of BRE Wales and South West, and the building was delivered on time and on budget.

Simon Ringer, Partner and Head of Property Funds at Bridges Ventures, commented: “This is one of a series of care home developments that we have undertaken in partnership with Castleoak. We are delighted with an outcome which provides our investors with an attractive return generated by both development activity and long term, indexed linked income whilst delivering one of the UK’s most sustainable healthcare developments.”

Castleoak and Barchester Healthcare are now teaming up with Cardiff University to carry out a year-long study of how the building performs while occupied.

“The comfort and health of the people we support are paramount, and our buildings operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, placing a high demand on systems and hence energy use,” said Ken MacKenzie, Director of Development at Barchester Healthcare. “With the number of older people rising rapidly over the next generation, our buildings need to be as sustainable and efficient as possible.”

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