in pursuit of energy efficient minimalism
The Passivhaus gurus north of the border are planning quite the soiree for energy nerds this Autumn. They will be hosting PASSIVE HOUSE NORTH 2013, CanPHI’s first Passivhaus conference, which will take place 27-28 September 2013.
Yours truly has been invited to present, and the list of speakers is tres impressive/humbling – a veritable Who’s Who of the North American PH community. The focus will be broad (e.g. not limited to single family houses) and this is PHantastic. We are looking forward to this and are hoping to corral a number of our compañeros here in the NW to head north with us. We are, after all, one awesomely large bio-region. They’re pulling out all the stops, and Dr. Feist has been confirmed to speak as well. In case you were wondering, yes, this will be one of the highlights for North American PH movement this year.
Additional speakers include Tim McDonald of Onion Flats fame, Henry Gifford, Bronwyn Barry and one of the most prolific educators/promoters/gurus of PH we’ve ever met, Passive House Academy’s Tomas O’Leary. Covered topics will include PH affordability, cold climate difficulties, large wood structures, multi-family housing, prefab construction, high-performance window design, heat recovery ventilation, and airtightness – amongst others.
In case you were afraid to travel to BC for a single day event, fret not. The conference will take place over multiple days, and much like the PHI’s conferences, there are pregame events and a banquet on Friday night, with a presentation by Henry Gifford. I’m really looking forward to this one, folks.
Discounted/early bird registration is open til June 23rd. This has been extended to iPHA/PHnw and NYPH members – an extraordinary gesture for cross-border cross-pollinization.
So if you haven’t done it yet – here are but a few reasons you should click that registration button.
1. Vancouver is an amazing place and, unlike other locales hosting PH conferences, worth visiting. ( I’d live there if it was further from the States).
2. Top notch venue – the Westin Bayshore ain’t no armpit with dingy carpeting and smoke-laden curtains from the 70s.
3. We’ll be there, and as the unofficial black sheep of the PH community, we always bring the fun.
4. CanPHI is an organization worth supporting, especially w/ their new certification option!
5. Did we mention it is in Vancouver?
6. Latest group to join APHN!!
7. meat & bread!!
27-28 September PASSIVE HOUSE NORTH 2013
Westin Bayshore, 1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver, BC
5:30-7:00 PM, CAN$ $400 (members) | $550 (non-members) – includes meals/fees/taxes.
The 2013 NW Green Home Tour is this weekend from 11 am to 5 pm. Tours are open and don’t cost a thing, so come out and support your local green gurus!
Last year’s tour had some great offerings including an efficient HufHaus featuring CLT panels.
I will be at the Dwell project all day with some PH goodies and lots of info, so feel free to bring your questions! It’ll be a glorious n’ gloomy, cold day – perfect for observing the awesomeness that is Passivhaus!
More details about le Tour here (alas, it’s not really bike-able – but I know you can see a lot of ‘em that way, Jesse). There are also google maps showing locations, which can be accessed from the ecoguild. Eventually, it would be great if these events were turned into an app – with archival info/fotos/contacts stored. That way, when people are walking by in future years, they would be able to learn about the green projects around them…
It’s been a crazy few months here at BFC, and this week is shaping up to be just as busy. Several blog posts in the works, but finding time to finalize them is proving harder than I’d like. This week isn’t making it any easier – Aaron’s off in Boston for a project, and Mike’s hitting the Wood Solutions Fair and CLT Symposium this week. I probably won’t live-tweet the CLT event (too much) but will definitely be posting a summary and pics of any schwag passed out. Looking forward to running into a few old friends, and it should be a pretty good event.
1. Dwell Development’s Passivhaus in Columbia City (previously here, and here) is moving. The walls were framed long ago, the air barrier (Tremco envirodri) has been installed, windows (Intus Eforte) were delivered and installed, and the second blower door test came in at 0.58ACH50. Still planning on certification (Passive House Academy) and yes, we’re long overdue for some posts and pics. The initial blower door test ended up being significantly more challenging, revealing several penetrations that weren’t properly sealed, and the initial fluid-applied WRB/air barrier installation had some significant flaws. In the end, the number works and there are still a few outstanding areas to work on and see if we can get it a little tighter. Rainscreen installation’s next on the docket – and then insulation and sheetrock. It’ll be interesting to watch it finally come together. We’re trying to coordinate some tours with Dwell in the near future – shoot us an email if interested.
2. Dwell’s Anthony Maschmedt and Aaron recently presented the project at our local PHnw meeting. There was some good feedback, and we dropped some terrific news – Seattle’s first spec Passivhaus not only sold (pre-market!), but Anthony is planning on implementing a few more in future phases of Columbia Station. Success! The presentation was hastily prepared a day in advance, but can be downloaded here (pdf).
3. Shigashack is itching to go, we’ve got a backlog of posts on this one – and may just pull a Root Design Build and unleash a torrent once it’s out of the ground. Since we’re in case study/demo mode on this one – we’re really trying to push the envelope (ha!) as much as budget will allow – and luckily we’ve a client that’s open to pushing us even further. One of the more intriguing things for us is we’ll be utilizing 4″ of cork insulation over the sheathing, in lieu of mineral wool. Yep, corkitecture. We like the story of cork, the look, the feel and installation should be significantly easier than mineral wool – bonus! In order to keep the project foam-free, we also might incorporate some perlite and foamglas under the slab. Stay tuned…
4. Another small backyard cottage (~260 sf) we worked on is framing – the form is really tight, driven by a fairly tight site. But it’s pretty straightforward and who doesn’t like a few framing pics, am I right?
5. Lastly, we recently inked a contract to design a small infill project in Eastlake. The site is a whopping 30′ wide, and there’s not much of a buildable envelope – but it’s shaping up to be a rather interesting project. Deets to follow.
It’s a question we’ve had a few times… ‘Can I have a fireplace in a Passivhaus?’ While not strictly verboten, fireplaces and PHs generally don’t go well together. Wood burning fireplaces are out. Just right out, you’ll never hit the blower door test, it would invalidate HRV effectiveness, cause drafts, incur significant heat losses. Plus, they aren’t so great for IAQ. In winter here in the NW, we tend to have some horrendous air quality (burn bans aren’t infrequent!)
Direct-vent gas stoves that are completely self contained could be possible, but the average unit has an output that is 5-10x greater than the peak heat load of a PH – who wants to bake in their house?!?
The fundamental allure of flame, however, is undeniable. For us, the fun part is finding viable alternatives, so here are a few we rather like…
A decent option for a PH, as no chimney is required. The byproducts of combustion are CO2 and steam/water. The heat output is generally low but can be adequate for a Passivhaus, and there are some snazzy modernist models, perfect for your man cave or living room… One of the more minimal units we like is produced by vauni. Although I think by law, if you put this in your house, a Jacobsen egg chair is required.
I have to say up front, I find this the ‘sexiest’ option. These can be found in a number of PH projects, though they tend to be utilized more for DHW. There were some interesting units in Hannover, and one of these vendors was Wodtke, which has a rather nice unit compatible for a Passivhaus. Of all the units I’ve seen, they’ve also got some of the best aesthetics. The majority of heat put out by the boiler is sent to a DHW storage tank, with a small portion going towards space heating – best of both worlds for a PH.
Now there are some planning issues – sourcing pellets in the US ain’t as easy as Europe – though New England does have a decent infrastructure in place. The pellet storage is typically self-contained, there are systems that store from a few days worth of pellets to nearly a year. Some of the systems have separate hoppers which can be quite large (I’ve seen systems incorporated both in and out of the thermal envelope). This adds envelope penetrations, which may just need some extra effort to be sealed and insulated…
What I like about these units is the heat output is low enough that overheating is low risk. The efficiency of the systems is relatively high. The pellets are comprised of compressed saw dust and wood shavings – so in essence it’s a recycled waste product – and the ash byproduct could be utilized in a garden as fertilizer, depending on type of wood sourced. The bonus with the pellet boiler is that your primary demand number goes down considerably, especially compared to an all-electric system. Many in the PH community, however, would argue that the biomass source factor (0.2) calculated by GEMIS is entirely too low.
Thinking outside the [thermal] box…
If you really want the option of a wood burning fireplace paired with a Passivhaus, the smartest location may be placing it outside the thermal envelope. Two of our favorite solutions: a 3 season porch or a fire pit. Given our minimalist tendencies, the firepit is a must – especially here in the Northwest where summer evenings can still be really cool. It also provides that natural desire to congregate around a fire. Mmmmm. Fire pit!
Throw a dinner party w/ a few candles…
I think this one is self explanatory… A few friends, good food, and some scotch – all the warmth your Passivhaus requires.
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some would eat that want it
But we hae meat and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.
So those are a few of our ideas. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Cheers!
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