Time to rethink how care homes are heated

With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow next month (November), it could be time to rethink how care homes are heated.

By Rachel Trend, chartered architect at DWA Architects

Architects can reduce the potential heating demand of buildings from the outset of the design process by embracing the use of design tools such as Passivhaus.

A ‘Passivhaus’ is a building that relies on a series of principles to make sure the heat demand is less than 15 kWh/m2 per year. It creates care homes that are cheaper to heat and run and which provide high quality, healthy environments for residents.

Done properly, a Passivhaus can be heated using only solar gain or a low-energy heating system connected to a renewable heat source.

Specifying high levels of insulation in the walls, roof and floor is also key, as well as removing thermal bridges.

Rachel Trend

Cold spots in corners or next to windows are removed and the level of air tightness means that uncomfortable draughts also disappear.

Fresh air is in high demand in care homes, especially with COVID-19 still circulating. By installing a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) system providers will know that every room is supplied with healthy quantities of fresh air.

The heat recovery part of the system means no heat is lost through this ventilation. The fresh outdoor air is gently heated as it enters the building by the waste heat from the stale indoor air being pumped out.

Limits are also placed on noise transfer between rooms and summer overheating.

The care home of the future is one that is warm and comfortable for all residents, and with low heating costs. It might just be a Passivhaus.

More from DWA Architects here.

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