It’s been a couple of weeks since Rob and I attended the PassiveHouse Canada Conference (PHCC) in Toronto, and I have spent time reflecting and realizing the importance of human connections. Being in a room full of energetic trailblazers and like-minded folks motivates me in many ways. They inspire potential Passive House applications beyond the typical single home structure, assist with solutions to everyday building challenges, and renew a burning need to help make the world stay habitable for future generations. Yes, a group of Passive House people plotting patiently together can do this!
Potential Passive House Applications
Passive House is being used for more than just the typical house! Nursing home residents in British Columbia are already feeling better living in their new Passive House structure; dilapidated housing is being transformed into a Passive House fourplex lifting the spirits of residents on a First Nations build in western Canada; social housing in Hamilton, Ontario, shows us how our challenged loved ones thrive in a healthy, supportive Passive House environment. And the list goes on! High-rise Passive House models in Vancouver and New York are showing us how this style of eco-living can successfully be applied to support high-density urban structures. Co-housing residents living in their nine-unit Saskatchewan townhouse complex demonstrate their passion for Passive House with their unique home. The potential applications are endless. We definitely felt inspired by attending the various sessions showing the “non-traditional” uses of Passive House at the PHCC conference.
(Emma Cubitt, Architect, white helmet, and her team showing us the new Passive House apartments build in Hamilton, Ontario)
(Passive House Retrofit: Parkdale Landing in Hamilton, Ontario)
(Yale First Nation Passive House Fourplex, near Hope, British Columbia)
The Everyday Building Challenges
I have mentioned some of our Passive House building challenges before, but chatting with fellow attendees and tradespeople at PHCC helped us brainstorm easy and applicable solutions. An “Ah Ha!” moment for me was the idea to have your construction manager involved through the whole process, way back to the initial designing and planning stages (Thanks Terrell Wong!). Another strategy is not only the proper training of the tradespeople, but looking for insights and professional opinions by simply asking for their help and wisdom. Once your tradespeople understand the principles and the goals for air-tightness, they may even be able to brainstorm some new strategies!
The numerous salespeople from exhibiting supplies, with their innovative products, were a wealth of knowledge. And very helpful in finding creative solutions to common building challenges! Awards were presented to many Canadian companies having received International Passive House certification on their innovative building components. For instance, Quantum Passivhaus had four types of their wall panels certified! Way to go Canadians!
(Angie Horner-Xerri from Quantum Passivhaus receiving her award)
Renewing Our Burning Need to Save the World
So, how did PHCC inspire us? Each presenter brought light and inspiration to us. We were sad we couldn’t go to each session, but some were scheduled at the same time. My personal interest on how to make Passive House housing in Canada actually affordable was peaked yet again. And I got to meet my hero, Lloyd Alter from Treehugger!
Perhaps Eric Freed’s powerful presentation during the closing session summed it up best. He injected plenty of humour and “Let’s do this” into the seriousness of the climate crisis. And reminded us (through an excerpt from a speech by young environmental activist, Greta Thunberg) that the next generations are demanding action.
It’s not “sometime in the future.” We are in the climate crisis now. Have you seen the destruction of the hurricanes? The loss of lives with flooding? The changing weather patterns? The devastating fires? We need to find ways of sequestering carbon and plant more trees to clean out the carbon from the atmosphere.
Passive House is a tool. Did you know that around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings? By building more Passive Houses and retrofitting existing structures into Passive House standards, we are doing our part in the building industry. Let’s spend a bit more money to achieve better health, comply with future building codes, and think about our children’s children.
Thanks PassiveHouse Canada for getting these innovators, builders, and suppliers under the same roof, where face-to-face contact and casual chats can lead to inspirational consequences. Next time you’re waffling about whether to attend a local Passive House meeting or an international conference, just do it! You won’t be sorry.
For more information & tours of our own Passive House build in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, and other blog posts, please go to CedarValleyPH.com.