Tag Archives: passivhaus

REVEALed: a new initiative to showcase and compare the world’s most energy efficient buildings.

REVEALREVEAL – a new building energy performance nutrition label and benchmarking scheme to showcase and compare the world’s most energy efficient buildings. 

Reveal is the latest programme from the International Living Futures Institute (the Institute behind the Living Building Challenge, Living Product Challenge, Declare and JUST) to provide visible and benchmark-able energy data based on real, measurable data. Reveal is aimed at certified Living Buildings, net zero buildings, LEED buildings, BREEAM buildings, Passivehouse projects – or indeed any project with accurate measured energy data. It should be of great interest to the facilities Management and Property sectors

REVEAL taps into performance based reporting – an integral part of the Living Building Challenge and Net Positive Certification to provide a new platform for projects to showcase how efficient they are relative to other buildings.

Evidence for the Reveal using the EUI – Energy Use Intensity index – would be validated from utility provider data and audited by ILFI. Reveal Labels are date stamped and will be renewed on a two-year basis to essentially become ‘nutrition’ labels for building energy performance.

Organisations can use their label on their websites and marketing materials to tout their achievement in being one of the world’s most efficient buildings – and see how their project stacks up to other exemplary projects.

Energy Use Intensity (EUI) indicator: In the absence of a standard or benchmark it is difficult to benchmark energy uses between buildings. Simply measuring the amount of energy used per a chosen time period does not take into account building size, configuration or type of use. The use of an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) indicator provides a means to normalise the way that energy use is compared between various types of buildings, and evaluate the means of reducing overall energy consumption.

When using EUI, energy use is expressed as a function of a building’s total area or “footprint”. For Reveal, as is common in the US, EUI is expressed in energy used per square foot of building footprint per year. It is calculated by dividing the total gross energy consumed in a one-year period (kilowatt-hours or kilo-British Thermal Units) by the total gross square footage of the building ie KbTu/sqft/year  In the UK and elsewhere this would be KWh/m2/year. See Calculating a Building’s EUI

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) will begin issuing the new energy label, called “Reveal,” in late 2015 according to Eric Corey Freed, vice president for global outreach at ILFI.

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Passive House Whistler (and bears!)

I was delighted to be able to visit the Austrian Passive House in the Lost Lake area of Whistler during our recent RV travels through British Columbia.

The house was recently gifted to Whistler from the Austrian Olympic Team and provides club room for mountain biking and nordic skiing clubs.

It was designed as a family house for 5 and used as the HQ for the Austrian olympic committees, teams and press during the 2010 winter games.

Claimed to be the greenest building at Whistler, the Austrian Passive House was designed in Austria but built by local contractors using imported materials (incl timbers?) from Austria. ‘Legacy’ crops up on all the web search, that the building outlive the Olympics and provide demonstration of passiv haus concepts, using less than a tenth of energy an equivalent local Canadian house would use. It was the first (and only?) Passiv Haus accredited building in Canada

The Austrian House dominates a key entry point to the Lost Lakes area that provides stunningly smooth singletrack biking (and I guess XC skiing in winter). I couldnt shake the apprehension however of cycling around a singletrack bend into a bear. We had seen plenty of bears on our travels, including at Whistler, and the fresh bear scat, along with the ripening berries, a favourite bear treat in a food-stressed area, added to the apprehension.

Links:

Austrian passive house   The Greenest House at the Games 

Whistler Bears : Bear death toll continues to rise

Construction Video

If zero carbon is the answer then just what was the question?

If zero carbon is the answer then just what was the question

Is it ‘just because’ I am currently  seeing things from a different perspective as I re-read Cradle to Cradle, (which I feel  has more resonance with where we are now)  but a number of recent issues and events  have left me questioning our approach to zero, and that going to zero is not enough.   Indeed it may even be dangerous ‘just’ going to zero.

Lets consider the built environment in its widest sense, not just from design to FM but from wining raw materials through construction to end users, and consider the opening premise from Cradle to Cradle, and ask who today would allow a sector to :

Put billions of pounds of toxic materials in the air water and ground every year

Produces materials so dangerous they require constant vigilance by future generations

Results in gigantic volume of waste

Puts valuable materials in holes all over the planet

Requires thousands of complex regulations – not to keep people and nature safe, but to keep them from being poisoned too quickly

Measures productivity based on how few people are working?

Creates prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burning or burying them

Erodes the diversity of species and cultural practices.

McDonough and Braunghart were referring to the industrial revolution in these ‘consequences’, but they do describe the construction sector oh so well.  OK so no-one today would allow such a sector which exhibited these ‘by- products’ a licence to trade, so why then do we allow the ‘built environment’ to continue doing so but at a reduced rate?  As McDonough and Braunghart comment – doing only a little good may well be doing no good.

Indeed Janis Birkeland comments in her argument for Positive Development – if we build all new buildings to the highest, greenest standards, then the net contribution to carbon reductions would be only 0.04%.

And with this in mind, the questions that kept forming last week included:

How much do we spend within the global built environment on waste management, (disposal, recycling, regulation, etc) in comparison to the amount spent on eliminating waste full stop, through for example cradle-to-cradle paradigm thinking?

A rule of thumb is that the built environment uses 40% materials, creates 40% waste and generates 40% emissions. Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030 puts this figure higher at 48.5%.  We need to monitor and watch these figures reduce, but at the moment the production of cement remains responsible for about 7% of all carbon dioxide emissions.  Am I the only one who feels guilty with these?

Indeed another rule of thumb puts the quarrying sector at a third contribution – but what proportion from this sector is used to derive materials for construction? If the Cradle to Cradle authors are correct then the consumer (end user) only deals with 5% of the total waste of a product, the remainder 95% is waste created in manufacture.

So why are zero carbon definitions largely ignoring embodied energy and putting them in the ‘too difficult to deal with box’ ?  Dealing only or mainly with a carbon zero definition for buildings in use?

Passivhaus is emerging as the aspirational darling or solution. But what is the true embodied energy of passivhaus, in particular the massive amounts of insulation, sheeting and duct tape?  Passivhaus will reduce energy requirements and costs. Excellent. But I would love to see the payback time on the total and higher than normal embodied energies and waste.

Why are plastic, polyurethane and uvpc now considered green (such products now abound at eco exhibitions and within green guides) based it would seem solely on their performance, not on the harm done during production.

Why doesn’t BREEAM and LEED make more of a  focus on embodied energy  in its scoring?

Oh and why isn’t responsible sourcing to BS6000 more widely known or enforced?

Are we trying to solve the built environment environmental problems with the same mode of thinking that created them in the first place? I have always accepted that within sustainability we will make mistakes, take dead ends and end up in cul de sacs, and that this is all part of the learning and moving forward. But is time running our too quickly, to be so ‘narrow’ and we are just storing another problem for future generations to deal with?

Are we looking down the telescope the wrong way?  Turn it around and we may see the scale and maybe solutions to our problems.

We are in a period of developing strategies, codes and defining zero carbon itself.  Now is the time for that debate to be wider, for a collaborative debate across the sectors that make up the built environment, from raw materials to end users. And here  is where I mention be2camp, as it is through web technologies (in both the widest and most specific aspects) that will allow and enable such debate and dialogue to take place.

And as the Cradle-to-Cradle sub heading says – its time to remake the way we make things

(This is a rewitten and shortened and hopefully bettered reasoned version of the rant I started at the end of last week)

on passivhaus challenges

Su Butcher  has posted an excellent and very useful comment on PassivHaus  being about saving energy over on her blog, Just Practicing.  I did comment there in brief but here is a more detailed response.

Relationship with Code 6 and Carbon Definition  As was reported from the Zero Hub consultation Passiv Haus is the aspirational target of the UK zero carbon definition, not only for domestic but for a wider scope of building.  

Challenges  The PassivHaus challenges are not just within in design. (With all the eco-kit, materials, knowledge and lessons from PassivHaus in use out there, the ‘design’ of passivhaus is now arguably just a process to repeat)

Challenges lie, in my view, in three areas:

Construction. Construction of PassivHaus will require a far higher level of quality and fit than we are used to (at least in the UK) .  Research at Leeds Met is showing that the retro investigation and remedial work to fix or improve on failed air tightness tests can be prohibitively expensive and may well become commonplace.

I am excited and impressed that one of my clients, a Lancashire house building contractor are building /eco- refurbing one of their own properties to learn and understand the new issues involved in PassivHaus  (they are also doing the same to CSH6  + I hope to get a case study together soon)

End Users – the challenge here is to engage with the hearts and minds of potential PassivHaus dwellers. Ask anyone (esp with a family) if they would want to live in a PH and most often the response would be no.  And that is on the house ‘image’ – there is also the life style of living in a sealed box with minimal user ventilation that needs addressing.  This may apply to all modern eco-homes in what Greer refers to unforgivingly vertical houses not being designed for practical family life. (And does anyone else have the Peter Seger song Little Boxes playing in the mind when looking at / reviewing / visiting modern new eco homes?)

Existing Stock – Here the challenge is to move the PassivHaus  debate and design considerations away from new build home to PassivHaus eco renewal, and away from just homes to commercial, industrial and public buildings. 

sustainability now champion

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Phil Clarke at Building Mag @zerochamp has asked me to be a  champion for the forthcoming Building magazine’s Sustainability Now virtual event taking place 13 and 14 May.

Still awaiting details, but I will be online in the discussion lounge on the 14th May and look forward to chatting with you there (and hopefuly drinking virtual champagne with Mel and others?) 

 

I will be in great company with fellow green bloggers:

  • Lucy Pedler, an architect founder of the influential body The Green Register, which has a membership of 600 influential sustainable professionals
  • Principal at green consultancy Inbuilt and green blogger Mel Starrs, who writes at Elemental
  • One of the sector’s most popular figures on Twitter, blogger Su Butcher – a practice manager at architect Barefoot & Gilles who blogs at Just Practising.

A detailed agenda for the event should be available next week. In the meantime here’s a bit of a snapshot of the type of content at the show:

  •  Live seminar on refurbishing existing houses with the Energy Saving Trust
  • Discussions on issues such as PassivHaus design, the zero carbon definition and the CRC
  • Videos from Ecobuild 
  • Some content from Bioregional on their views on sustainable legislation and updates from their projects
  • A survey on BREEAM 2008 

More here 

To take part in the online event sign up here  Its Free ! with the benefits you’d get from major conferences without the travel and from your home / office computer.

passivhaus innovation circle

The next Innovation Circle Session on ‘Passivhaus’ will look at the possible influencing factors of implementing the Passivhaus principles in the UK.  Friday 20th March 1-3pm at the Adelphi Conference Room, Adelphi Building, UCLan.   

 

Led by Sabine Engelhardt – Green Cities, Manchester, and Facilitated by George Hall

Details passivhaus innovation-circle-flyer