On my path of learning there is no doubt that every time I speak to someone with knowledge, I pick up something new or get a better understanding of what I thought I already knew! It often surprises me what aspect of a conversation jumps out. For example, in my latest podcast with Bill Butcher from Green Building Store he told me he believes thermal performance is as important as keeping the rain out. Now that’s quite something to say.

We all know that a derelict building can stand for ages until the roof collapses in and then the building disintegrates very quickly. So keeping the moisture out is absolutely essential. Suggesting that the thermal performance is equally vital might get some people wondering . . . unless we have wasting a massive amount of energy in the past and now we have to realise this can’t continue.

I remember during my chat with Dr Wolfgang Feist – one of the founders of the Passivhaus standard – that he said: “You’ll have to build airtight buildings in the future.” It wasn’t a case of having more air tight buildings about, but that in his view air tightness will be the norm. At this point in time that might seem far fetched. Once fossil fuel reserves become more scarce, perhaps we’ll take it more seriously.

Getting back to our episode with Bill, it’s focussed on low energy barn conversions. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is breathing some life back into three derelict farms on the outskirts of Huddersfield and at the centre of it all will be an education centre (that meets the EnerPHit standard). What’s interesting is their pioneering approach – they’re building a box within a box! In other words, inside the existing masonry they will construct a timber frame building. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that but you get the idea!

You can listen to the episode by downloading it from iTunes

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