Giving Thanks to the Phius Community

We at Phius have plenty to be thankful for this year.

First and foremost, we are thankful for our dedicated staff, and all the loyal members of the Phius community. If it weren’t for all of you, we would not be well on our way to making Phius the mainstream building standard.

Cups ConferenceWe are also grateful to have had the opportunity to connect in person with so many of you during PhiusCon 2021. More than 400 people joined us in Tarrytown, New York, for this year’s conference, with about 100 more joining us virtually as part of our Bootleg Series. No amount of Zoom calls or virtual meet-ups can replace an event like that, and we are grateful to have been able to host such an informative, (hopefully) entertaining and most importantly, safe event.

Thanks also to the ambitious project teams who participated in the Annual Design Competition. Each year we are inspired by the exemplary entries.

The inroads being made in policy in a number of areas is a crucial step forward for our organization and the passive house movement as a whole. We are appreciative of our hard-working team as well as the policymakers who are willing to work with us to create healthier, more efficient buildings.

We would be remiss not to mention our ever-growing number of project certifications. We have already nearly doubled our submitted project count from 2020 and are well on our way to having our first ever year with 200+ submitted projects. And as we continue seeing an influx of multifamily projects, we’re thrilled to have more than 1.8 million square feet of pre-certified and fully certified Phius projects in 2021. Our Certification Team has been plenty busy this year, and we’re thankful for all their hard work.

Expanding to the greater Phius community, we are of course thankful for our engaged and enthusiastic Phius Alliance members and chapters. We have been able to add a number of new chapters and members, and we are grateful to support such a wonderful community and be able to bring them dynamic programming such as webinars and office hours.

There is much work to be done, but we are most thankful for all the people and organizations who have helped us make great strides toward our goals.

Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is a Policy Victory for High-Performance Building

In September, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the State legislature enacted the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). CEJA is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious energy bills to be enacted anywhere in the United States; it will have positive and far-reaching effects for years. Unsurprisingly, Phius’ mission to get more energy efficient single-family, multifamily and commercial buildings built will be positively affected. 

tierra linda new 02The 963-page bill (told you it was comprehensive) covers numerous energy-related topics including: 

  • Energy efficiency (more on that below)
  • Zero Energy: The bill sets 2045 (sooner than you think) as the year when Illinois achieves a 100% zero-emission power sector. 
  • Renewable Energy: 50% of Illinois’ energy generated by wind and solar (with intermediate steps)
  • Workforce Training: Funding to get a trained workforce to support the energy transition, particularly in low-income communities
  • Transportation: Rebates for electric vehicles and vehicle charging stations

Energy Efficiency

The legislation devotes significant attention to energy efficiency. Measures include: 

  • Requiring utilities to submit energy efficiency plans past 2030 (currently, 2030 was the last year utilities needed to do this and it’s not like the climate crisis is scheduled to end on January 1, 2031).
  • Requiring utilities to increase spending in low-income communities, with a majority of funding going to whole-house energy efficiency retrofits.
  • Allowing utilities to meet their energy efficiency goals through electrification (importantly, 25% of funding in this area is specified for low-income communities).

Building Energy Efficiency

CEJA also includes groundbreaking requirements directly relating to building energy efficiency (near and dear to the hearts of Phius people everywhere):

  • The legislation mandates a step stretch energy code. The act requires the Capital Development Board (CDB) — the state agency charged with writing the Illinois Energy Efficiency Code — to develop a new code every three years through 2031 with each version more energy efficient than the last. This is important as anyone who follows the progress of the International Energy Efficiency Code knows that the IECC can go several three-year cycles without seeing any improvement.  
  • The CDB shall allow an alternative compliance path for buildings certified as achieving passive house levels of efficiency (the act doesn’t explicitly call out any organization). 

Phius promotes energy efficiency through the expansion of incentive programs and progressively stronger energy codes. States that have incorporated these policies, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, have seen an explosive increase in the number of high efficiency buildings (including buildings certified by Phius). With the continuing policy advancement in Illinois, we hope/expect to see similar progress here in the future.

Introducing the New Phius Portal

As you may already know, we are in the process of transforming our digital systems as we embrace our new slogan — Emissions Down, Scale Up! 

Some of the background and behind-the-scenes details of this transformation were detailed in a recent blog post by Phius Associate Director Lisa White. She touched on many of the exciting aspects of Phius’ digital evolution, but today we aren’t just going to tell you about it — we’re going to show you.

We created the video below to share with Phius Alliance members at PhiusCon 2021, but now we want to share it with all of you. Some of the details such as the portal’s projected launch date have been updated since the video’s creation, but it provides a glimpse at the portal’s functionality.

While the portal is not yet a finished product, we are thrilled to give you this sneak peak. The new portal offers a one-stop-shop for everything Phius-related, offering an easy-to-use hub for professionals, alliance members, CPHC’s®, and anyone else associated with Phius.

We hope you enjoy this preview, and we look forward to giving you a full introduction to the Phius portal in the coming months.

PhiusCon 2021 in New York was Spectacular!

Katrin HeadshotPhius Co-Founder and Executive Director Katrin Klingenberg gives a round up of all the happenings at PhiusCon 2021 from her own perspective.

Back home in Chicago on the Sunday after PhiusCon, I found myself sitting at the lake staring out at the blue waters reflecting and trying to process what just happened at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel in Tarrytown.

A pedicab passed behind me, and I noticed the song being played softly “Here comes the sun…it’s all right.”

The pandemic experience has humbled many of us, gave us lots of time for reflection and to put things into perspective. It made it even clearer how significant our work is and how necessary it is that we succeed in keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. The challenge makes even a pandemic look like a warmup.

Conf Kat1One word comes to mind when I look back on PhiusCon 2021 – grateful! I’m grateful for us being able to (finally) bring everyone together safely, during COVID times. This was no small feat. Thanks go to an amazing organizing team at Phius that braved the odds – with Knezo, Jennie and Michael at the helm. Thank you to all our phriends — our tight-knit community — who boarded planes to come from all around the country and continent (Canada and Mexico attendees).

Thank you for trusting us! We did sell out, so apologies to those who wanted to attend but who we could not accommodate in the end. And thank you all for making this event as safe as possible by taking as much personal responsibility during the conference as you do in your work for the planet. The amount of love, care and commitment this group brings to the table is unprecedented. And thank you to the venues and the New York weather gods who smiled upon us. There were lots of beautiful large outdoor spaces to mingle, which was made possible by gorgeous late-summer sunshine and temps.

Being reminded that the enthusiasm that comes from being together in person, sharing work and lessons learned, progress and successes is soooooo valuable. Keep pushing forward with the great work you are all doing!

A few thoughts and observations about the conference

Conf crowd1

There is clearly an acceleration that can be felt. The skillsets of teams and their precise, knowledgeable work, even on more complex projects of all walks of life, was off the charts. Integrated space conditioning solutions and emerging next frontier systems designs as well as large-scale heat pump hot water solutions are helping get components up to speed! And emerging business models that promise to become larger scale economic catalysts are finally emerging. Thank you Sloan, for sharing your biz-model and offering to mentor fellow developers! That is crucial.

On the standards front, it has become clear that the community understands that the design of the right standards, being climate specific and with an eye toward economic optimization and accommodating retrofit conditions, matters a great deal. Quality assurance processes during design and construction also matter a great deal to the overall success of projects. And it matters to be able to share lessons learned, and to collect data for feedback loops from as many projects as we can to continue to make these systems better and update them continually. Thank you all for embracing this idea of sharing through certification for the greater good and success of the community! We need to be able to measure and quantify our success.

And that measured success was represented by fantastic winners of the Design Competition. Thank you to all who entered. All of the submissions were terrific projects, no question about it. And thank you to the most knowledgeable and experienced jury in the history of the competition.

I would also like to thank all the speakers throughout the Pre-Conference, Core Conference and plenaries, for sharing your expertise, experience, hope and sense of responsibility!

Special thanks go to two speakers, our keynote bookends, who have been long-term pillars of high-performance efforts in North America and my mentors, Eric Werling and Joe Lstiburek.

Conf Boogie1I saw the sun come up over the lake this morning, and have to thank Eric for the wonderful reminder of hope! “Here comes the sun, it’s all right,” was his theme.

And Joe, what a stimulating, beautiful, poetic closing keynote. It combined the joy of intellectual curiosity, scientific understanding and pleasure to tackle what lies in front of us. We need to be firmly in our saddles technically, but we also need to remember that we need to play, have fun and keep our motivation nurtured, even if things get tough — and they will.

I said it at the closing of the conference, and I’d like to say it again: I have, in all these years that I have been in this with you all, not been as hopeful as I am now. We can do this! Let’s start this new cycle of next-gen passive house work hopeful, mindful, recharged, refocused and re-energized!

Why We Can’t Wait for PhiusCon 2021

PhiusCon 2021 is nearly upon us, and the excitement is palpable.

This will be the first opportunity for all the leading building science professionals in the country to be under one roof in nearly two years. Our team at Phius has spent nearly that long preparing for PhiusCon, so to say we are thrilled that the conference is finally here would be a substantial understatement.

We have written blogs (here and here), sent emails and posted on social media almost nonstop over the last few months in an attempt to keep all interested parties informed of the details of PhiusCon 2021. But now that it’s nearly go-time, we wanted you to hear straight from the Phius team exactly why we are so fired up for the conference.


Katrin HeadshotKatrin Klingenberg, Co-Founder & Executive Director

Be with my tribe again IN PERSON — like-minded, determined, passionate, caring people…feeling the energy and excitement…looking forward to recharge, design, envision the future with everyone…listen to Joe talking about what red wine and buildings have in common…and of course geek out plenty! And then there is the Building Science Boogie Band…can’t wait.





isaac picIsaac Elnecave, Certification Staff

I am looking forward to meeting the builders and developers who turn the Phius standard into actual buildings that people can live and work in. These are the people who turn our ideas into reality. 






Michael FrancoMichael Franco, Product Certification Program Coordinator

I’m very excited to see what our exhibitors have to show our attendees. It’ll be really interesting to see some of the physical models and displays of products that we certify and that our practitioners use in their buildings.






photographs by lawrence braunJohn Loercher, Certification Staff

I’m most looking forward to the time in between sessions: planned meetups and impromptu conversations. This is always a time to be open to new possibilities, connections and ideas that keep me learning and challenge me to think outside of my current perspective. This year, considering the location of the conference center, I am looking forward to a lot of that happening outside along the Hudson River with a special view of the NYC skyline.





32tev__gGraham Wright, Senior Scientist & Chair of the Phius Technical Committee

I am looking forward to meeting with the Phius Technical Committee, and to Joe Lstiburek’s keynote address.  







James OrtegaJames Ortega, Project Certification Manager

I’m most excited for Phius’ constituents to meet Phius’ new team in person. I simply can’t wait for my new colleagues to get a glimpse at how wonderful and enthusiastic this community is.






Al MitchellAl Mitchell, Technical Staff

I am most excited to put faces to names, and meet all of the passive building people in person.  I also am hoping for some informal, idea generation over a round or two.







Steven Reid-WynnSteven Reid-Wynn, Office Administrator

I’ve never attended a conference before so I’m excited to experience it for the first time. It’ll be great to learn even more about how others are working toward getting to zero.






SONY DSCLisa White, Associate Director

I’m most excited for the inspiration and spark we all get to take away from it. It’s hard to explain, but after an exhausting jam-packed week, I always find myself reinvigorated, inspired, and even more motivated to take on the next year. 






Mike KnezovichMichael Knezovich, Director of Communications

When these people get together and geek out over building science, I get jolts of energy and inspiration. That doesn’t happen on Zoom. It just doesn’t. I can’t wait. 







Max LapthorneMax Lapthorne, Marketing Communications Specialist

I have never attended a professional conference, and am not a building science expert, so I am most looking forward to soaking in the atmosphere and learning from the brightest minds in the field.






Josh RuedinJosh Ruedin, Professional Training and Education Programs Manager

I’m looking forward to meeting our instructors and past trainees in person. 






Jennie EberJennie Eber, Alliance Constituent Coordinator

I’m so excited to meet Alliance members at the Annual Member meeting on Thursday night.