Michael Hindle will be participating in a Panel Discussion at the ACI (Affordable Comfort Institute) National Home Performance Conference in Baltimore entitled “Passive House: Yes or No?”. The Discussion will be on March 30th at 8:30 – 10:00 am under the “Shifting Paradigms” break-out track. The discussion promises to be an enlightening and frank discussion of the application of the Passive House Energy Standard in different climates and contexts. Participants will share perspectives from current projects, past projects and research. The conference agenda looks fantastic and the week promises to be very informative and inspiring. Please come join the discussion in Baltimore.
Chesapeake Passive House is collaborating with our design partner INDRAlogic on an exciting new Passive House in the beautiful mountains of Western Maryland! The site is challenging but gorgeous. The steep slope, the view to the east demanding significant amounts of Eastern glazing, the demanding program, and the clients desire for the house to settle unobtrusively into the hill have offered a wonderful design problem to address, particularly in light of energy performance. The selected design follows the slope and delivers a wonderful experience of the views. The design benefits from earth mass and solar gain, and is on target to hit the Passive House standard. We believe this house will be a holistic, beautiful and low impact home. Please check back as we post on our discussions, discoveries and design!
Free Energy: Passive Building Strategies Every Builder Can Use
Even for those not ready to make the jump to a fully passive home, there are steps every builder can take to dramatically boost a home’s performance. Passive building may seem like the cutting edge in energy-efficient construction, but its principles are far from new—and in an industry where the stakes are too high to take a chance on a fad, that’s a good thing. Fortunately for builders, people around the world have been using passive building to keep their homes comfortable for more than a thousand years. Why? Because they work, and free energy doesn’t go out of style. more….
Chesapeake Passive House has teamed up with Brennan+Company Architects on a retrofit of an historic building in Historic Ellicott City Maryland. The building is a commercial office space with three separate spaces on 2 and a half stories. When the project is complete the offices will become the home of Brennan+Company Architects and the eco-friendly kitchen and bath show-room, Alterego.
The building will be aggressively air-sealed and insulated in all accessible framing cavities of the original timber-frame structure with an additional thermal break layer furred out on the interior walls and against some roof rafters. The insulation will be comprised of a minimal close cell spray foam flash for better air sealing and urea-formaldehyde free blown in fiberglass.
The renovation of the second floor office space will include various “sustainable” materials; floating marmoleum flooring, floating cork flooring, floating bamboo flooring, wool carpeting tiles, zero-VOC paint, NAUF pantry cabinets, bamboo vanity + credenza, concrete counters, Icestone counters, Alchemy counters, and Water Sense fixtures.
Since the existing building prior to renovation had some very challenging design features, had been poorly renovated in the past, had a dangerous and cobbled together heating “system”, and was anything but air tight, it would be very hard to establish a baseline of performance for the existing structure. (It would have been completely impossible to perform a blower-door test anywhere near 50 pascals.)
That being said, the energy performance of the building should be dramatically improved. I would not be uncomfortable claiming 60% energy demand reductions, though given a lack of a baseline I cannot provide data. All of the energy modeling was based on conservative estimates and shows between 59% and 63% reduction in heating demands and a 52% decrease in cooling demand. Let’s just say this building was an environmental and occupant health disaster, and it will now boast a quite respectable level of performance and reductions in carbon footprint.
The project is currently under construction and we will be following up with details and construction photos.
It has been more than two weeks now since Dr. Wolfgang Feist sent a letter to North American Passive House stakeholders announcing his decision to sever relations with Passive House Institute/US. I assume that anyone reading this can find endless blog posts and “green” building newsletter articles about this so I need not go into details. Indeed you may find all the meeting notes and letters back and forth on line.
But I feel that I, as a Certified Passive House Consultant, and the owner of a business dedicated to Passive House as a design standard and methodology, need to make some statement with regards to the legitimacy of Passive House and how we intend to move forward as designers and energy consultants.
The most important thing to say is that for the purposes of our work and the implementation of the Passive House standard in our projects, nothing has changed. The standard is science based and dependable, and we have done and will do everything we can do to be sure that our projects are planned, modeled and constructed in strict compliance with the standard.
There may be some changes in certification of projects (whether to certify as North American Passive Houses though PHIUS or as international Passive Houses through PHI) but these will essentially be administrative decisions that should not affect the experience of clients or the quality of the buildings. The key will be, as it always has been, with the accuracy of the energy model, the appropriate detailing of the building envelope, and the accurate accounting of site conditions.
How one chooses to certify will, in my opinion, be decided based on which organization can best provide support and information for designers relevant to both the unchanging limiting criteria of the standard itself, and locally and regionally appropriate building science and climate-sensitive building strategies.
As in all such situations, the truth is hard discern when there are competing versions of events. I have a great deal of confidence in Katrin Klingenberg. I have watched her on many occasions speak sincerely and knowledgably about Passive House in general, and regarding the minutia of specific applications. I have spoken with her personally on numerous occasions, and while this may lead to a bias on my part, I can also attest to her sincerity and the depth of her commitment. She has worked tirelessly to advance the standard and climate sensitive design across North America. While advocating the PH standard she has also been very forthcoming bout where she feels more work needs to be done. For the leader of an organization dedicated to a particular approach, in my experience she is far from dogmatic or partisan.
While the birth of the PH movement in the US has not been without some complications, and undoubtedly some things could have more organized and better handled, I trust PHIUS to be a good faith partner that will do everything it can to be sure Passive House is implemented accurately, diligently and safely through all climate zones in the US.
We must remember several things as principal concerns:
1) We need to reduce carbon emissions by 85% from current levels by 2050 to avoid the more dire predictions of climate scientists, though climate models are proving, if anything, to be conservative, not alarmist.
2) Passive House can achieve these sorts of results cost-effectively NOW, building by building.
3) The culture of design and construction in this country is one of inertial adherence to unwise and appallingly wasteful design and building practices. We must change this culture by raising awareness of impacts, such that good-willed people can choose for themselves. The best way is to lead by example.
4) We cannot for a moment allow such controversy undermine the legitimacy of the low-energy building effort in general, or to sway us from diligently and aggressively pushing for the wide-spread adoption of SANE building practices, which I believe are very well and reliably modeled and implemented using the Passive House approach, regardless of who is certifying a given project.
Consistent with the Passive House approach of reducing demands and mitigating harm, rather than trying to engineer solutions to our destructive behavior, I would like to suggest that we all work for healing this rift and refrain from language and behavior that exacerbates the it. We must start from an assumption of good faith by all concerned and work to help PHIUS and PHI find a way back to productive collaboration. Reconciliation would be beneficial for all.
Given the nature of our political discourse, we all can see what happens when people resort to vitriol and posturing rather than compassionately working to understand and correct misperceptions and mistakes – which we all must remember are inevitable in any such undertaking. I, for one, am going to get back to work and avoid partisanship to whatever degree possible, while honoring the contributions of both parties.
The Gaddy House project in Clarkesville, MD got under way yesterday with our second schematic design meeting. The project will be a collaboration between the owner, who is himself trained in Passive House design, Miche Booz Architect, and Chesapeake Passive House.
Much to my surprise, after our first schematic design meeting review of 3 options, Miche had expanded the number of option from 3 – 8! All had positive aspects to them so I anticipated a grueling process of narrowing them down. It is a fascinating process of balancing energy efficiency goals, esthetics and program. In my view it is a wonderful design challenge that invites creativity and mindfulness, as was the case in this instance.
The meeting was very productive and Mr. Gaddy had a very clear intuition of what would meet his needs and reflect his environmental values. We went from 8 options down to one in a matter of an hour or so. That must be a record!
Please see the projects page for more information.
Michael presented to the school community of St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE on April 28th. He spoke on the widespread – and often invisible – environmental impacts of decisions we make every day in our contemporary, global culture of consumption and waste, and how sustainable architecture can help us reduce those impacts.
He discussed the importance of reducing operational energy use of buildings through the application of Passive House design principles as well as the importance of non-toxic, sustainable material selections in the effort to reduce the impacts of the built environment.
The school has done a very good job of articulating and implementing a philosophy of sustainability and environmental stewardship and communicating this commitment to their students.
We made a visit to the site of the future Passive House Annapolis project to look more closely at the lot and perform some initial solar analysis. It is an absolutely beautiful setting and we enjoyed time just being in this small piece of rural Maryland preserved in this wonderful forest conservation easement. Due to the requirements to respect the forest conservation easement, solar gain will be a challenge. We believe that while taking only a few trees at a strategic distance from the house but still within the building disturbance area, we should be able to achieve sufficient gain in the winter while preserving shading in the summer to reduce cooling loads.
The building is being designed as a truly integrated design effort between INDRAlogic and Chesapeake Passive House. The process has been seamless and very enjoyable. It is remarkable how well (and easily) Passive House design can be when all the participants share the common goal of holistic sustainability and an awareness of the design principles in question.
Plans are well underway and renderings should be up soon!
Michael Hindle, CPHC and Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Passive House Alliance will be speaking at the The 14th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency EXPO + Forum
The Mid-Atlantic Passive House Alliance will have a table at the expo and Michael and several other local Passive House practitioners will be present to answer questions and show examples of projects in the US.
The Expo will be held at:
– Caucus Room
U.S. House of Representatives
Independence Avenue and New Jersey Avenue SE
Thursday – June 16, 2011
9:30 am – 4:30 pm
The EXPO is free, open to the public,
and no RSVPs are required.
Michael Hindle CPHC of Chesapeake Passive House will be speaking at the Solar and Wind Expo in King of Prussia PA, just outside of Philadelphia, at the Valley Forge Convention Center on June 11th at 3-4PM.
His talk will describe the principles and methodology behind the Passive House energy standard and include a discussion of a holistic sustainability and natural materials approach to energy efficiency, including information about global warming potential and embodied toxicity of some common insulation materials.
The talk will be followed by a question and answer period and a review of case studies, time permitting.
Michael spoke at the Solar and Wind Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland on May 13th and 15th .