The annual Passive House Conference was held recently in Denver, Colorado and hosted by the Passive House Network. Attending the Passive House conference always leaves me inspired, energized, and optimistic, and never more so than this year. I have the sense that this is a pivotal moment for Passive House and that scaling-up is imminent. The need for climate change mitigation and adaptation has by now been made heartbreakingly clear to all of us, and Passive House is the most appropriate building model to address both concerns. And it is also well positioned to be adopted as a code standard for many jurisdictions, due to a combination of energy code requirements, tax incentives, and market demand.
I had the honor of participating in a policy roundtable where advocates from all over the country got together to discuss how Passive House legislation is progressing in our various jurisdictions. One of my big takeaways from that meeting was the idea that we should be focusing more on envelope performance, and less on whole building Energy Use Intensity (EUI). And that is because as designers we have more control on a building’s energy performance via choices we make about the envelope, if we design according to the Passive House standard, whereas we cannot control plug loads (how many appliances occupants use) or hot water usage, both of which have proven to be major factors in the discrepancies between energy models and actual energy usage. Another interesting moment from the roundtable was hearing more about Massachusetts’ pioneering incentives campaign. The Mass Save® program is truly a model for the rest of us.