Wednesday, February 3rd 2010 (Camden Town Hall, Judd Street)

Councillor Alexis Rowell of Camden Council, the Liberal Democrat ‘Eco Councillor’ and very active chair of the Camden Sustainability Task Force has organized what will arguably be the first dedicated Passivhaus conference in the UK (The AECB could also arguably claim this). The decision to organize the conference came after a period of broad but intensive research by Alexis and the Camden Council Sustainability Taskforce on cutting carbon emissions in UK buildings. This research was carried out in the UK (inviting a wide range of experts to present to the Sustainability committee) and abroad (research visits) by Alexis and other Liberal Democrat councilors.

One of the most convincing research visits included a trip to Frankfurt to meet the leader of the passivhaus schools programme there, Axel Bretzke, and to visit the successful Riedberg School, now famous throughout Europe for its proven success in cutting energy consumption to amazingly low levels. Axel explained that the Frankfurt school was developed after energy and air quality monitoring of traditionally designed schools. Apart from the high energy demand of contemporary traditionally designed schools, they found, in practice, appalling winter air quality in schools that relied on only natural ventilation. By combining natural (summer) and active (winter) heat recovery ventilation, the Riedberg passivhaus school is now famous throughout Europe for achieving extremely low heat energy and electrical demand, whilst at the same time achieving extremely good summer and winter air quality.

The Camden Sustainability Task Force also received enlightening presentations from numerous experts, including one from Bill Bordass, referred to by Phil Clark as “one of the key figures behind the Usable Buildings initiative … spoken of in hushed tones by most in sustainability circles.” He also knows Axel Bretzke through his own research on the Frankfurt Schools Programme and shared the platform recently with Axel at the AECB Passivhaus Schools Conference.

Camden Council is now under pressure from its Liberal Democrat councilors to lead the way by requiring more than the minimum standards set by the government.

The Camden conference will be attended by UK and overseas experts and politicians and should be a great event.

PS The conference will also include visits to two of London’s first Passivhaus developments, both presently under construction, including our own at Ranulf Road in the London Borough of Camden.