The Anonymous Widower

Super-Efficient Flats Don’t Need Heating Or Air-Con

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Page 34 of today;s copy of The Times.

These are the first two paragraphs.

In a city of skyscrapers the 26-storey building on a small island next to Manhattan looks unremarkable. Hiding in plain sight, however, is an architectural revolution.

The House, a dormitory for graduate students at Cornell University, is so energy efficient it can eliminate the need for heating and air conditioning. It is the first “passive house” in the US and is providing a stream of data for engineers.

If someone built a passive skyscraper in London, I’d ceretainly go and look.

July 24, 2019 - Posted by | World | ,


  1. I live in a main road terrace house built 1904. Brick built. We are double glazed, insulated etc. Our house is not unbearably hot even in the weather we had today, because the bricks take a long time to absorb heat – some of the ones built middle of last century are not so good at keeping cool in summer and warm in winter. We don’t use much gas either in the winter. The block in Manhattan sounds great, and if they were building family homes I would be interested perhaps. But I do love my lovely old house.

    Comment by Liz P | July 24, 2019 | Reply

  2. There are passivhaus buildings going up all over Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands. We are building one here in the UK on which work has just started. We are including underfloor heating on the ground floor, powered by a small air source heat pump, but this is mainly in case we want to sell, as I am advised that many buyers won’t believe that it is possible to have a house that doesn’t need heating. The new house is 380 sq m over 2 floors, excluding the workshop and garage, and calculations show that at minus 4 Celsius outside, the whole house will need only 3.6kW to heat it. This is ignoring Solar gain through the 8 large triple glazed sliding doors, and heat generated by occupants, cooking, etc. We expect that in reality we will need no heating at all. 12kWp of ground mounted solar panels will provide electrical power, with a battery to provide overnight power. A grid connection will backup the system for days when there is insufficient power. Electric cars will be charged from the system to provide transport. A phase change heat store, heated electrically, will provide instant hot water for kitchen, utility, and 4 bathrooms, without the need to store hot water. We would like to build more smaller houses, but getting planning consent in the UK, is almost impossible. We only got PP for our new house by shear determination, and letting them know that we would go to appeal if they didn’t grant it. We had the full support of local people, so our difficulties were only with the local planning department.

    Comment by John Wright | July 24, 2019 | Reply

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