The Fabric First approach for Low-Bills Living

Why prevention is better than cure in the eyes of those who swear by the Fabric First approach.

wooden house

YOOP architects, who are based in Stanmore, London, have taken to using a fabric first approach to their construction projects, allowing them to concentrate on ensuring that their buildings are as well insulated as possible, reducing the need for renewable energy sources such as solar PV and solar thermal panels.

A recently completed project in Boxtree, Harrow, was built in line with a brief from the Origin Housing Group which specified priorities including reducing fuel poverty in the area. The housing was also to provide privacy and security to its residents.

Speaking of the project, Gorden Evans, a YOOP Architects partner, said: “We used a solid wall construction to minimise heat loss and reduce noise between flats. The building has been structurally designed so photovoltaic panels can be added in the future if needed, but the construction is so heat-retentive that we anticipate that most residents will only need to use heating in the coldest winter months, if at all.”

As well as the thermal insulation properties which fabric first construction offers, the building also features one continuous ventilation system which uses outgoing air to heat the air coming in.

What is a Fabric First Approach?

Any fabric first approach is quite simply a building method which concentrates on the basic fabrics of the building itself rather than any additional systems in order to keep bills and energy use to a minimum. Rather than rely on expensive, additional technologies to achieve as low a carbon footprint as possible, the fabric first approach aims to make homes as efficient and sustainable as they can be in themselves.

This approach will take into consideration two key factors:

1 – Insulation to keep warm air in for longer; and

2 – Airtightness to keep the cold air out.

Equally as important is the air quality inside the home, and those undertaking a fabric first approach projects should always take into consideration the necessity of a comfortable indoor climate.

Image by Wonderlane

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