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.