Bere:architects report from the International Passivhaus Conference 2011

Kindergarten Tivoli Passivhaus
Kindergarten Tivoli – Passivhaus

 

Justin Bere: I have attended the International Conference every year since my first passivhaus conference in 2007 at Bregenz, when I afterwards wrote about being hugely impressed by the scientific rigour of the presentations from academics and architects alike, the simultaneous translation, the wonderful book (in English) containing details of each presentation, and the superb exhibition of no-nonsense, leading edge products crowded with technical experts who could answer all my questions with complete authority. Now on my fifth international passivhaus conference (or ‘Passive House’ as the Germans correct us!), I am still deriving huge learning benefit from the annual gathering which is directly helping us to achieve passivhaus certification of our projects with increasing confidence. Last year we felt it was worth taking five people from bere:architects; this year we were forced to reduce our numbers due to some very high spending on research and monitoring equipment. I was honoured to be invited to give a presentation on our Welsh Zero Carbon Passivhaus social housing, focussing on the topic of weather data. Essentially our research indicated that cost optimisation requires the use of average weather data and the difference in energy demand between an average and a  10 year extreme worst case weather event is about 100watts of power! Our findings were backed up by the Passivhaus Institute who wrote an addendum in support of our findings.

Sarah Lewis: This was my second International Passivhaus (or Passive House) Conference. Like Justin, I was honoured to be invited to give a presentation about the use of the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP) as a sketch design tool for early-stage project evaluation. The presentation was based around the Camden Passsivhaus, London’s first certified passivhaus, for which I was the job architect. This is also the project that resulted in me gaining qualification as a Certified European Passivhaus Designer. Bere:architects are currently carrying out a rigorous two year monitoring programme of the house, funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), with the results being disseminated throughout the construction industry, in cooperation with the Good Homes Alliance, University College London and the Welsh School of Architecture.  The initial results from the monitoring are soon to be posted here.

What I find most interesting, is seeing how the UK construction industry is responding to/ accommodating the increase in interest in Passivhaus in the UK, seeing how contractors are adapting to the changes.  It will be great  to see if the Certified Passivhaus Tradesman training programme (announced at the conference this year - http://www.passivehouse-trades.org/) is going to be implemented in the UK.  Daniel Hayes from our office regularly trains our contractors in window fitting, he gave a free RIBA flash event at the Mayville Passivhaus Retrofit a few months ago, although this was mainly attended by architects. When he goes to site it is interesting that the contractors are all very keen to learn the processes involved in achieving Passivhaus levels of air tightness and so far on our Passivhaus projects they have always risen to the challenge with excellent outcomes!

Nick Newman: This was my first International Passive house Conference. I was really fortunate to be given the opportunity to come this year, mainly due to the fact we had a meeting in Zurich following the conference, with a Swiss client for whom we are designing a Passivhaus. I am also awaiting results for my Certified European Passivhaus Designer’s exam, so this gave the experience a particular relevance to me. It was a pleasure to be able to listen in to conclusions from some of the latest research work being carried in the low energy design field, and it was of course a tribute to Justin and Sarah for being part of this. The exhibition was also really useful; it was great to be able to talk to suppliers face to face, and (attempt) to put into practice the German lessons we have every Friday in the office! Finally it was amazing to see some of bere:architects’ work presented in Wolfgang Feist’s summing up speech, and to hear his passion and drive for the future of the Passivhaus standard. It really inspired me to keep up the research work and perhaps even present a presentation myself one day.

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Lovely to see the website up and running and finally be able to read your stories and experiences in passivhaus! P x