144: A System for High Performance Homes

Beattie Passive achieves the highest performance by looking at the building as a system.
Beattie Passive achieves the highest performance by looking at the building as a system.

Beattie Passive is a complete system for high performance homes. I love the concept of ‘a house as a system’. I also love the idea of making it simple and easy to get right, and that’s exactly what Ron Beattie has done.

As explained in their technical information, “The Beattie Passive system achieves superior levels of energy efficiency compared with both traditional and existing new methods of construction”.

Continuous Insulation

One of the main challenges to building a really energy efficient house, is getting a complete layer of insulation around the whole thing. Flat surfaces like the middle of a wall or a ceiling are easy, but it’s the joints and junctions that are hard to get right. This is where most building methods end up with thermal bridges and an incomplete envelope.

The Beattie Passive system for high performance homes overcomes this challenge by forming a continuous void, into which insulation is injected.

High Performance Homes

The Beattie team have chosen Passive House as the measure of high performance. This mean airtightness, high levels of insulation and good ventilation are incorporated into their buildings.

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Affordable Housing

Such a high level of performance must come at a cost, right? Certainly there is sure to be some premium if you compare such a high performance house with a stock standard one. But that’s not comparing apples to apples.

Due to the many benefits of the system, including the relatively simple structural elements that can be pre-fabricated, Beattie Passive homes have been used across the UK by a number of Housing Associations for affordable housing.

Fife Housing Association, Beattie Passive
Fife Housing Association, Beattie Passive. Click the image to see a time lapse video.

Retrofit

I’m also intrigued about the use of the Beattie Passive system for retrofitting. Could this be utilised here where the performance of our homes is so poor?

Check out the Beattie Passive projects website for more information and inspiration.

 

 

 

  • Thanks for the podcast, I’ve been keeping tabs on this company for a while. I like the scalable approach and see echoes in the Dutch Energiesprong project (although that takes factory manufactured retrofit even further). I’m in the UK btw.

    I do have some questions, it would be great if Beattie Passive could answer…

    1) In the timber frames applies to the wall there are timbers that protrude from the surface and appear to me to bridge from the existing wall to the outside – isn’t this a thermal bridge?

    2) I understand MVHR ducting is run inside the TCosy. At the points the ducting runs, however, isn’t there less insulation thickness? How is this dealt with to get a consistent U?

    3) Which insulants can be used in the TCosy cavity? Assume this is going to foundation level.

    4) How much choice is there in the joinery? A U value is quoted, which makes me think this is pre-determined. That’s ok, because it is a factory system so you would expect less choice. But I just wondered…

    5) I’d really like to know a ballpark figure for cost. I know what standard throw-it-together-on-site EWI typically costs per m². But I have no idea about this system. Obviously you have to compare like with like – the walls and joinery should be considered separate. But I would hope due to the systemised nature of this product that there would be both performance AND financial benefits.