NAPHN – The 2016 Roundup and a Look Forward to 2017

January 2017
The NAPHN is an organization that has evolved slowly and organically since 2010. We’ve taken some time to carefully determine how best to support the specific needs of our ‘boots on the ground’ membership, while balancing a growing need for the resources and structure that is more efficiently provided by a larger entity. This is no simple task but collectively we’ve made remarkable progress. In March of 2016, our board held its first official retreat in Washington DC, where we drafted a Strategic Plan for our organization. The focus was on three pillars: clear Passive House messaging, expanding our collective training capacity and formalizing the business plan and infrastructure of our network. This work is ongoing, but significant progress is being made by an incredibly committed core group of Board member volunteers.

Our third annual conference hosted by NYPH turned out to be quite ‘monumental.’ That’s an appropriate use of hyperbole for the scale of an event that only New York could have currently hosted. Over 700 attendees packed the Midtown Metropolitan Pavilion for two solid days of Passive House building presentations, prefaced by two days of workshops and followed by a day of tours around the five boroughs of New York City and neighboring New Jersey. The buzz generated over these five days was palpable – and not just because there were only drapes as room dividers. The breadth and depth of content available at this conference reflected a maturation of the North American Passive House building community. Presenters addressed issues well beyond simple modeling and methodology that characterized earlier conferences. Topics explored showed increased confidence by practitioners with nuanced issues explored, backed up by measured data and monitored results. It was clear that Passive House buildings are no longer ‘aspirational.’ We can now point to confirmed results.

I wasn’t able to sit in on all the sessions but I was happily coopted into moderating a track of presentations that I found particularly inspiring. The Stephens Institute Solar Decathlon team of Ed May, Clarke Snell and Chris Hamm told the story of their three Solar Decathlon entries, tracking their progress to becoming the 2015 winning entry. Their group presentation embodied the maturation of experience in our community, despite the modest age of the presenters. They entertained the audience with an almost fanatical pursuit of perfection. Not content to win only 7 of the 10 awards categories, they retroactively dug into the data to find where they could improve their results in future, including how driving an electric vehicle around in circles in a parking lot will score them better efficiency mileage – a tip gleaned from the Texas team, who was clearly determined to win at any odds.

PASSIVE HOUSE ACCELERATESpassivehouse_accelerates
Our NAPHN16 event book was aptly titled. It included a carefully curated series of articles and interviews based on the content presented and served as an informal ‘proceedings’ and program. The dynamic team at Low Carbon Productions assisted many of our member regions in publishing additional books showcasing the expanding number of Passive House buildings already completed across the continent. In other publications, the NAPHN was pleased to contribute to an excellent report entitled Accelerating Market Transformation for High Performance Enclosures published by the Pembina Institute. It confirmed the exponential growth in Passive House building adoption and highlighted the exceptional regional efforts of two of our leading member organizations: New York Passive House and Passive House Canada.

2016 proved to be an extraordinary year of growth for the NAPHN. Our affiliate membership expanded to thirteen organizations, representing 1,000+ local members. We were thrilled to add a new organization model, the North American Certifier’s Circle, to our network. This group’s membership consists of a rapidly expanding list of PHI Certifier’s operating across North America. We’re hearing from additional Passive House advocacy groups emerging in new regions of our continent and look forward to welcoming them (and a few older, more established groups) into the NAPHN Cooperative in 2017.

The NAPHN is proud to have enabled various advocacy efforts for regional subsidies and tax incentives to successfully include the International Passive House Standard. In California, Passive House was added to the list of certifications that may now receive tax credits when applied to affordable housing projects. In New York, NYSERDA recently announced significant funding subsidies for projects that achieve Passive House standards. Vancouver, Canada, continues to outpace us here in the ‘lower 48’ with impressive incentives and policies that are removing barriers to Passive House buildings.

The NAPHN’s focus for 2017 will be to light the path for buildings to support an All-Renewable Energy future. We’ve already announced the dates and location for our NAPHN17 Conference and Expo and theme of “Passive + Renewables” here. Sponsorships and vendors are now being procured so save the dates and contact us if your company wants to support and participate. We’re pleased to have LBNL and the Pacific Energy Center confirmed to host the Pre-Conference workshops and look forward to making many other exciting announcements regarding this event as the year progresses.
We’ll be rolling out a new training program to accelerate the number of Certified Passive House Designers, Consultants and Tradespersons receiving quality education opportunities across the continent. This is proposed to be fully operational by 2018. New marketing resources are being developed in order to craft a consistent message about what it takes to build to Passive House building standards. These will build on the resources and documents being developed in various regions and unify them all into a coherent, centrally located resource available to all member regions.
Lastly, we’ll continue building the constructive and collaborative relationships we’ve enjoyed between our local, national and global partners. We’ll be corralling a large North American delegation at the International Passive House Conference in Vienna in April. Details of the Annual NAPHN Dinner – which has become a highlight of the event – will be announced in the coming weeks and we look forward to seeing you there. Lastly, I’d like to thank you all for your own ‘boots on the ground’ efforts in designing, building and advocating for Passive House building in North America. None of us do this on our own. Passive House building will always be a team sport! I’d like to personally take this time to wish you a very prosperous and happy 2017. Now, more than ever, our
focus must be on the de-carbonization of our built environment and I trust you know exactly how to promote those efforts in your local region.

Bronwyn Barry
NAPHN President