Our approach to sustainable building design

We make buildings work

Nick Grant is a freelance energy consultant working in association with other freelance consultants and larger practices who share his no-nonsense approach to sustainable design.

Most new buildings do not work. They are uncomfortable with poor air quality and require a lot of energy to stay warm. We have earned a reputation for helping to deliver buildings that really do work. Projects to date have included multifamily housing, individual homes, schools, offices, workshops, archives and museums.

The best way we have found to achieve this is by working with the Passivhaus standard and tools such as the PHPP (the energy design software developed by the Passivhaus Institute). We see Passivhaus as a proven approach to achieve high performance, cost effective buildings and not as an end it itself.

See ‘Services‘ in the menu for specifics of what we can offer. Our input can vary from a one hour chat to help a self-builder think through options to full passivhaus design support, site supervision and final tuning for a school or large housing development.

Who we work with

We will happily work with individuals or as part of a larger design team. As you will see from the project examples, no job is too small. With the right team, no job has yet proved too big.

Form follows function – don’t shoot the messenger

When a designer says ‘we are interested in sustainability but we have never had a suitable client’, alarm bells should ring. Good function and sustainability  cannot, by definition, be an option any more than meeting fire regulations or making sure the building doesn’t collapse.

Good performance (energy, comfort, environment, cost) must be designed in. Form follows function is not an ideology or style, it is physics. You can add jet engines to a building but it won’t turn it into an aeroplane.

Eco-Simplicity, not Eco-Bling

AECB never mind the greenwashOur approach to sustainable design is different to most. We reluctantly call it eco-minimalism or eco-simplicity as we are suspicious of isms but know that labels are a useful shortcut.

Small budgets and other constraints are welcome. We question everything.

Practicality

Where possible we would rather roll up our sleeves and fix something than issue an instruction for it to be fixed.

Checking for air leaks during a blower door test

Learning from successes (and occasionally mistakes)

monitoring passivhaus archive

Happy clients are our best reward but we do like hard evidence of good performance

We don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to make mistakes to learn. Mistakes in building design can be expensive.

Sometimes we are wrong but we try and admit our mistakes  so others can learn from them. We try and write up our lessons learned and regularly present papers at conferences as well as teaching building science.

Passivhaus Trust Masterclass

Masterclass for architects and engineers on Value Engineering with Sally Godber

Integrated Design

We are advocates of integrated design where the whole team engages in the design process. This allows problems to be designed out rather than fixed by adding further complication.