A message from Chris McTaggart, QA/QC Manager, PHIUS+ Program

New PHIUS+ QA/QC Manager Chris McTaggart

PHIUS has contracted with Chris McTaggart of Building Efficiency Resources to serve as our new QA/QC manager in support of the PHIUS+ Rater program.  For more information on this transition, please read a special message from Chris below.

Dear PHIUS+ Raters and constituents,

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Passive House Institute US as the QA/QC Manager in support of the PHIUS+ Rater program. My role will be primarily in working with PHIUS+ Raters to provide technical support and quality assurance review of documentation submissions for PHIUS+ Certified projects. Additionally, I will be supporting PHIUS as an organization by participating in the PHIUS Technical Committee and helping to refine and develop the passive house program certification standards.

I would like to thank the previous PHIUS+ QA/QC Manager, John Semmelhack, for his leadership in managing and developing the PHIUS+ Rater program. John is a first-rate professional, extremely knowledgeable building scientist, and an exceptionally personable and friendly person, and PHIUS has benefited tremendously from all the effort John was able to provide to the organization. I greatly appreciate John’s recommendation to PHIUS that I succeed him, and will do my best to pick up where John left off for all of our benefit.

A bit about my background… I am the co-principal and lead RESNET Quality Assurance Delegate (QAD) for Building Efficiency Resources (BER). BER is a national third-party RESNET QA Provider that works with over 150 independent raters and rating companies in 25 states. Throughout the past 6+ years, I have worked almost exclusively in providing technical support, training and mentorship to RESNET HERS Raters to help them understand program standards and how to execute their role in providing third-party verification. Additionally in this role, my company performs QA review of energy rating files both using site verification documentation as well as in the field.

In my role as QA/QC Manager for PHIUS, I hope to achieve the following:

  1. Provide thorough and timely technical support to PHIUS+ Raters and other program constituents regarding the role of third-party verification of PHIUS+ certification standards.
  2. Review all PHIUS+ project certification submissions by PHIUS+ Raters for accuracy in order to ensure that all program certification criteria is being properly verified.
  3. Help refine and improve the PHIUS+ program certification standards and affiliated documents so that PHIUS+ Raters clearly understand their role in performing verification services for PHIUS+ Certified projects, and so that role is as streamlined and efficient as possible.

As many of you know, the PHIUS+ certification standards are being evaluated and updated to help the program achieve greater levels of consistency and participation in the marketplace. A huge part of this process will be to properly codify the role and scope of third-party verification and quality assurance oversight of these standards so that consumers and program constituents are confident in the results of PHIUS+ certification.

My role in achieving success in this development process is clear: help make the on-site verification process for PHIUS+ certified projects as clear, organized and efficient as possible for all parties involved. This will ensure that PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultants (CPHCs), Raters, and affiliated project architects, engineers, owners, etc. will all be able to understand and communicate with one another about the program certification requirements. The end goal of this process is that PHIUS+ Certification and verification criteria is uniformly achieved and projects are successfully certified.

Achieving the above will require significant effort and feedback from PHIUS constituents regarding the current certification process so that future versions of the certification standards are as clear as possible. I encourage all of your participation and communication throughout this process, and encourage you to reach out to me with any questions, technical support issues or feedback that you may have.

I look forward to working with all of you.

Sincerely,

Chris McTaggart

cmctaggart@theber.com

800-399-9620×4

PHNW5 conference: Congratulations on a very impressive event!

The Pacific Northwest Passive House community is the oldest and largest in the country and consequently leads the nation in built, certified projects.  The progress is amazing: When I keynoted the very first PHNW meeting in Olympia, there were about a 100 people, a handful of exhibitors. The number and quantity of presentations and exhibits last week at this year’s even was breathtaking.

PHIUS first brought its CPHC training programs to Portland and Seattle in 2009. Today, of more than 1500 professionals who have taken PHIUS CPHC or Builder training, approximately 300 reside in the Northwest.

Two builders/CPHCs are among those who helped lead the way by building spec projects: Blake Bilyeu’s and his dad’s project in Salem, Ore. (The Rue-Evans House), and  Dan Whitmore’s first passive house project in Seattle. Rob Hawthorne, too, has played a leading role with his Corehaus (which was on the projects tour at the 5th Annual North American Passive House conference, along with Blake’s), Trekhaus and 02Haus. Many, many have joined them. What a success story for the PHNW and the entire PH community!  That’s why I’m giving them a shout out—and I hope my good readers will pass along word of all the good work.

It was gratifying to see that most presented projects at PHNW had been designed, consulted on, built by or rated through PHIUS CPHCs, PHIUS Certified Builders and/or PHIUS+ raters. Nearly all projects put a premium on rigorous third party quality assurance and went with the PHIUS+ Certification program. Thank you for your vote of confidence and continued support of PHIUS. It is much appreciated.

Now, to some conference highlights: Kudos to the Stellar Apartments in Eugene, Ore., the very first PHIUS+ Certified affordable multifamily project! Stellar received PHIUS+ certification in 2013. What a milestone! Congratulations go to Jan Fillinger and Win Swafford as the lead CPHCs/architects on the project and Peter Reppe, also a CPHC, who designed the mechanical system.  University of Oregon Professor Alison Kwok—a former PHIUS board member and a CPHC, and her students pushed the research envelope and presented a detailed study of  measured results of the fully occupied apartments since last September. The developer had decided to build side-by-side examples of the same project: One is built to passive standards, one to Earth Advantage/Energy Star. The student team compared the results of the two test buildings, an excellent comparative study. Stay tuned for final results! I am sure we are going to see a great paper come out of these efforts.

Another highlight: The 19 unit Kiln Apartments in Portland is almost completed and awaiting final PHIUS+ certification. David Posada, who was in the very first CPHC class in Portland, approached me at the 3rdPHNW conference and told me about this multifamily project he wanted to pitch. Thanks to his persistence, it became real. PHIUS stayed involved with David through the PHIUS+ certification process and onsite verification by our PHIUS+ Raters and CPHCs in Portland, Skylar Swinford and Ryan Shanahan.

Skylar and Ryan presented on their quality assurance experience with this project. I was fortunate enough to get a spot on the tour, the only one for which this project is ever going to open its doors for, on Saturday. Truly a pleasure! Thank you, David, for moving this pioneering project forward. I can already see the ripple effect elsewhere in the country. Thank you, Skylar and Ryan, the extremely talented rater team pioneering the onsite verification, and of course also thank you to the architects on this project. It is an exceptionally handsome and exciting building!

The educational content of the conference was on par with the quality of PHIUS annual North American Passive House Conferences: the Northwest was not afraid of the most recent discussions in the field.

PHIUS is proud to note that PHIUS trainers, tech committee and board members Prudence Ferreira, Adam Cohen, Thorsten Chlupp and Chris Benedict presented 4 workshops during the pre-conference program. Prudence covered WUFI dynamic modeling, Chris reviewed multi-family Brooklyn and Manhattan (Chris’s project is also awaiting final PHIUS+ certification and was quality assured through Terry Brennan). Thorsten Chlupp’s presented his invaluable experience from the very cold climate in Alaska. Adam shared his extensive design build experience highlighting the business side of things and commercial projects, also PHIUS+ quality assured.

During the core conference Prudence spoke on the advantages of the WUFI Passive modeling tool. Graham Wright, board member of the PHNW and PHIUS senior scientist, presented on the current standard adaptation status by PHIUS and Building Science Corporation.

Special compliments go to Dan Whitmore, PHIUS certified builder/CPHC trainer and board member of PHNW: He was very much involved in putting together the schedule and presentations. Great work!

Again, it was a pleasure to be there, seeing so many friends and familiar faces. The progress is stunning and will hopefully inspire many all over the United States to follow in your footsteps!

Kat

 

RESNET 2012 Recap

Just a quick status report from the trenches, err, trade show booth: PHIUS just packed up the table at the RESNET 2012 trade show in Austin, Tex. The booth was generously sponsored by Jim Conlon of Elysian Energy in Silver Spring, Md. Jim was one of the first  folks to become a CPHCSM, and was among the first group of RESNET Raters in the country to take the new PHIUS+ Rater training last December; he’s now qualified to perform the PHIUS+ RESNET QAQC process. Thank you, Jim, for your work and your generosity!

PHIUS promoted its newly launched  PHIUS+ project certification to the RESNET stakeholders, who are the linchpin of the process. PHIUS+ RESNET raters perform passive house specific on-site testing protocols and generate HERS index numbers that accurately reflect passive house performance. PHIUS is offering a two-day certification training for experienced HERS raters to specialize in passive house and passive building QAQC and testing. Only passive houses that pass this rigorous quality assurance process receive the certificate.

During the conference, PHIUS held another 2-day class for raters: one day in the class room and one day on site. Yes, Austin

Take a video tour of Nicholas Koch's project.

already has two passive houses and one of them, Nicholas Koch’s retrofit project, was used for the on-site testing and the ERV balancing and commissioning protocol. The class had the special opportunity to use a new product from Minneapolis Blower Door; it can provide extremely low-flow ventilation air testing and balancing. Thanks to the company’s owner—Gary Nelson—instructors  John Semmelhack and Ryan Abendroth used equipment right off the trade show floor for PHIUS+ RESNET Rater on-site training.  Thank you, Gary!

Ryan and John also presented a conference session on Wednesday afternoon that outlined the PHIUS-RESNET, program details and benefits to raters and consumers.

Overall, RESNET 2012 was a great success with close to 1000 participants! Indeed, energy efficiency is on people’s minds and on government’s radar.

For me, the most important message was RESNET’s pledge to devote its resources in 2012 to make performance-based incentives a reality. This is awesome, of course, for everyone building to the passive standard, as these buildings—that offer maximumperformance—will receive maximum incentives.

Also very encouraging: lots of RESNET raters are extremely well-versed on passive house principles and aware of the PHIUS+ RESNET program. What better group of professionals to help build market confidence in quality-assured passive buildings? There was lots of interest in taking the two-day PHIUS+ RESNET rater training, and many raters also are interested in taking the CPHC training and becoming Certified Passive House consultants. On that subject, we’ll be announcing more PHIUS+ training sites and dates very soon!

I’m in Portland for the Passive House Northwest Spring Conference, and I’ll check in next from Boston at NESEA BE12 (if you’re going, sign up for my workshop on passive house mechanical systems).

Onward!