I enjoyed attending the 12th Annual North American Passive House Conference in Seattle, including two days of pre-conference training to improve my skills in WUFI Passive modeling. The combination of new knowledge, inspiration, and fellowship with other building energy nerds was exactly what I needed to take my passive house consulting to the next level.
Attendees listen to opening remarks
Below are the top three take-aways from the conference.
Successful teams iterate and plan for outside review.
I spoke to many Passive House Consultants about their process certifying a project, and not one had submitted a perfect energy model to PHIUS for review on their first try. Building time for review into the project timeline – and not getting hung up on perfection – is critical to success.
Improving moisture control while minimizing energy use is the next big challenge.
It’s no surprise that when air tightness is increased, the mechanical control of moisture and humidity within a building becomes more critical, since the building doesn’t have leaky walls that let it ‘breathe’ in an un-planned manner. We don’t want moisture leaking through walls where it can lead to mold, so that’s a good thing. However, since de-humidification requires large amounts of energy, finding energy efficient and cost-effective ways to provide appropriate humidity control based on climate is critical, particularly in multifamily housing where the density of people generates more moisture. Several presenters spoke about their strategies for optimized moisture control, and measurement of moisture, in existing passive buildings.
We have the energy and expertise to be optimistic.
It was thrilling to see so many attendees educating themselves and networking with the singular goal of designing more energy efficient buildings. Doug Farr gave an inspirational closing talk and pointed out that US Building Energy Use peaked in 2005. We have been decreasing the amount of energy our buildings consume. It's not a question of our capacity to continue to make our buildings efficient, it's an issue of our will to change. And our ability to figure out how to change faster than we ever have before to meet a challenge that is bigger than any we've dealt with before. I left the Passive House Conference better equipped to meet the energy reduction challenge, but more importantly, I met many allies in this journey who will serve as resources of knowledge and encouragement in the years to come.