Renewed energy

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell welcomes the latest winner of the Stirling Prize.

A council housing development in Norwich has won the Stirling Prize, beating off stiff competition from prestigious projects including: London Bridge Station, The Macallan Distillery, and Nevill Holt Opera.

I think this is strikingly important for the construction industry, primarily because energy efficiency is going to be the most important design consideration in the coming years as the UK strives to become a carbon neutral nation by 2050.

Energy efficiency is already important, and buildings’ designers are always happy to show off their credentials. And yes, it’s always great when the glazing elements get the respect they deserve.

But I think we have had enough of so-called ‘flagship’ projects now, don’t you think? Designing in energy efficiency is nothing new. Part L of the Building Regulations is nothing new. Passivhaus is nothing new.

What the Stirling Prize, I think, has recognised is that the UK’s housing stock needs a major overhaul in terms of its efficiency, and rewarding projects like Goldsmith Street proves that Passivhaus construction can be done on a large scale.

The double whammy with this, of course, is that we are in dire need of social housing in this country, and this goes to show that it can be modern and trailblazing, and not just a commodity that needs to built as quickly as possible.

Here is a cutting from the press release:
“Goldsmith Street provides almost 100 homes for Norwich City Council. The finely detailed houses and flats have been arranged in seven terrace blocks, creating a strong and sustainable new community. In order to meet rigorous Passivhaus environmental standards, every home has been impeccably designed and detailed to seamlessly incorporate an array of sustainability measures. These range from heat recovery mechanical ventilation systems and triple glazing to innovations like garden-wall letterboxes to reduce energy loss.”