The Agar Grove housing estate was built in the 1960s but, in recent years, the homes were no-longer fit for purpose. Small, damp and outdated, a change needed to be made. With fuel poverty one of the biggest issues facing many people today, Camden Council – the local authority landlord and developer responsible for the homes - needed to improve energy efficiency, making the homes easier to heat, cheaper to run, and more comfortable for residents to live in.
Passivhaus was the perfect solution. This building performance standard for energy efficiency focuses on detail-oriented, fabric-first design to provide greater insulation and a higher degree of air tightness. It is a proven approach for delivering net-zero-ready homes and, for Camden London Borough Council, meant they could provide high-quality, fit for purpose homes, as well as cut carbon, minimise maintenance requirements and reduce fuel bills for residents.
Our role was to help manage the design and delivery process for implementing Passivhaus, working closely with the approved Passivhaus consultancy, WARM. Passivhaus designs are very demanding to achieve, and the building had to be carefully optimised to reduce heat loss. This is an extremely delicate process but, through close monitoring, early risk identification and our diverse and collaborative team approach, we were able to successfully achieve the project aims and objectives.
In particular, the Agar Grove project benefited from Arcadis’ in-house specialist programming team, who conducted forensic analysis on the contractor’s programme. This, combined with frequent site visits by the delivery team, ensured the project on-site reflected exactly what the contractor was reporting.
Our integrated team included a combination of project management, cost consultancy, principal designer, and specialist programming services. It meant we could provide a holistic service to help Camden Council make more informed decisions throughout the lifecycle of the scheme. The approach to phasing was a particular success – it gave the option for most tenants to be moved from their old housing block and into the new homes, as and when they were complete. New residents were able to see their homes being built nearby in real time, all of which added to the excitement upon completion!
The regeneration of the Agar Grove estate has transformed residents’ homes in Camden. The success of the development means that families now have good quality, comfortable, spacious homes. A significant benefit of the Passivhaus accredited design means that residents are seeing up to a 70% reduction in their energy bills, as the home is now able to hold its warmth in winter – rarely dropping below 21°C - but remain cool in summer. Thanks to the Passivhaus design, little maintenance is required, so the building will stand the test of time.
Agar Grove has clocked up an impressive 12 awards for its forward thinking approach to sustainability. It has also been praised by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who sees the work at Agar Grove - building affordable homes in a green, sustainable way - as a key part of the fight against climate change and integral to making London net zero by 2030.