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.

PhiusCon 2021: Emissions Down, Scale Up — Together!

For four days in October, the center of the passive building world will be Tarrytown, New York.

That is to say that if there’s something important going on in the passive building world, we probably have an expert booked to discuss it at PhiusCon 2021. This year’s conference will be tucked away at the scenic Sleepy Hollow Hotel Convention Center in the beautiful Hudson Valley. It will have a distinct New York accent as we have partnered with New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA) for the event.

The locale for PhiusCon 2021 is no accident. Thanks in large part to years of tireless effort by Phius and NYSERDA, New York has become the country’s unquestioned leader in climate action policy.

425 Grand Concourse 1New York State and NYSERDA have embraced passive building like nowhere else, and we are thrilled they have invited us to New York State where we can properly feature the progress that has been made in New York to our national and international audience at PhiusCon. As New York City’s gateway to the rest of the state, Tarrytown is the perfect location for PhiusCon 2021, allowing us to show off passive projects in the city and throughout the great state of New York.

Pre-Conference workshops will be running Oct. 12-13, during which attendees can immerse themselves in subjects ranging from multifamily for developers to climate and social equity and WUFI Passive.

The core conference is set for Oct. 14-15 and is to feature sessions covering the following topics and much more:

  • States’ and cities’ climate action and zero energy code progress
  • Innovation in finance and technology
  • Optimized methods to bring down cost for design, construction and manufacturing
  • Zero energy building + renewable energy grid solutions such as microgrids, energy storage, virtual power plants
  • Successful passive retrofit solutions including manufactured component approaches such as panel systems
  • International climate-specific passive projects
  • QA/QC professional experiences in multiple building typologies

The list of speakers for PhiusCon 2021 is as distinguished and diverse as we have ever had, as building science professionals from around the globe are slated to give presentations. Keynote speakers are to include: POAH Vice President for Design and Building Performance Julie Klump, Energy Circle Founder and CEO Peter Troast, and Building Science Corporation Founding Principal Dr. Joseph Lstiburek.

This is the first year in the conference’s history that there are two different passive project tours scheduled. There is a New York City tour scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 12, which will showcase some of the largest multifamily passive projects in the country. And the Hudson Valley tour on Saturday, Oct. 16, will include a variety of creatively designed single-family homes in the area.

The winners of our 2021 Passive Projects Design Competition will also be announced as part of the PhiusCon festivities. Winning and honorable mention awards for the competition will be given in five categories:

  • Single-Family
  • Multi-Family
  • Affordable
  • Commercial/Institutional
  • Source Zero

Entries are being accepted until Oct. 1. For more information on the design competition, visit the PhiusCon website.

 

COVID Protocols

The safety of all PhiusCon 2021 attendees is at the top of our minds as the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States continues to evolve.

We hope to alleviate any concerns held by prospective attendees by laying out the COVID-19 protocols that will be in place for PhiusCon

  • CDC recommendations related to masking will be followed and enforced
  • All State and local mandates related to COVID-19 will be adhered to
  • N95 masks and hand sanitizer will be made available to attendees
  • If you feel sick, do not attend the conference
  • Presenters will be distanced from attendees and masked during presentations

As of the time of this newsletter, there are no COVID-19 capacity restrictions in place at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel Convention Center where the conference is being held. For those who choose not to attend in person, there are virtual tickets on sale, which provide access to a live stream of select presentations. There is no plan to convert PhiusCon to a fully virtual event.
If you have any more questions or concerns related to the COVID-19 protocols at PhiusCon 2021, please email conference@phius.org.

10th Annual NAPHC – best party of the year, maybe ever…

Wow – was that a successful conference! It has been a week and I am still processing it all. Chicago was unlike any other conference — things did not slow down in the office after it was all over, they rather accelerated. It indeed appears we have reached a tipping point.

From more than one person I heard that it seemed that the quality of work, detailing expertise and technical knowledge, size of projects and complexity of building types had reached a new high. And, compared to the early years, we were not just talking theory and intentions—but what people had done! Really impressive.

LEFT: Dr. Hartwig Künzel giving the Day 2 Keynote -- RIGHT: Sebastian Moreno-Vacca participating in the Architects' Hootenanny (L-R: T.McDonlad, T.Smith, J.Moskovitz, Sebastian, ?)

LEFT: Dr. Hartwig Künzel giving the Day 2 Keynote — RIGHT: Sebastian Moreno-Vacca participating in the Architects’ Hootenanny including (l-r): T.McDonald, T.Smith, J.Moskovitz, Sebastian, C.Hawbecker)

New modeling tools such as WUFI Passive (Technical keynote Hartwig Künzel, day two) are making building science interrelationships more visible and intuitively understandable. WUFI Passive is enabling CPHCs to optimize designs using “hygrothermal mass” (ever heard of that?) to optimize humidity loads and even to inform design decisions overall (as Sebastian Moreno-Vacca illustrated in his session) to create a unique architectural language! How cool is that! Science, heat fluxes and thermal dynamics begin to shape architectural form.

Dirk Lohan, Principal, Lohan Anderson -- Welcomes conference attendees to Chicago

Dirk Lohan, Principal, Lohan Anderson — Welcomes conference attendees to Chicago

Dirk Lohan—Mies Vander Rohe’s grandson, and an extremely accomplished architect in his own right—hinted at this development during his welcoming remarks.

“I believe that we will begin to see as beautiful what also is energy-conscious,” said Lohan.

Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

But maybe the most significant news is the explosive development in the multifamily affordable housing sector. It is seeing significant growth, interest and pilot developments going up in many places of the country. Thanks to the support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, we were able to make this our core topic for the conference and will be able to actively provide support to the affordable development community.

The pre-conference sessions included a daylong affordable housing Hootenanny that brought together successful affordable, multifamily housing project teams together who generously shared lessons learned and experience. Four different project teams presented during an intense full day. The morning and afternoon presentations drew full rooms of affordable housing developers who soaked up the information and had terrific, incisive questions

The same teams presented again during the core conference breakouts in a more condensed form for those who were unable to attend the hootenanny. In addition, there were more presentations on even bigger size affordable projects in progress:

  • A 101 unit affordable development in New York now under construction in the Rockaways (Steve Bluestone, Bluestone Org.)
  • A planned affordable retrofit of a 24 story historical brick building in Chicago (Doug Farr, Tony Holub from Farr and Assoc.), the Lawson House.
  • 24 story residence hall under construction in NYC (Matt Herman, BuroHappold)
L-R: Steve Bluestone presenting with Lisa White, Doug Farr, Matthew Herman

L-R: Steve Bluestone presenting with Lisa White, Doug Farr, Matthew Herman

Really amazing stuff.

Katherine Swenson

Katherine Swenson, Vice President, National Design Initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners — Day 1 Opening Keynote

Of course this growth has been fueled by forward-looking programs that recognize that energy efficient homes make so much sense for affordable housing developers/owners and dwellers. Katie Swenson from the Enterprise Foundation was a breath of fresh air–dynamic, positive, and motivating opening keynote. She explained that in her and her organization’s eyes energy is a critical part in assuring not just housing for people—but healthy housing! “Health is the new green,” she said, and of course passive housing delivers here with excellent comfort, indoor air quality and the added bonus of resiliency when the power goes out. Katie announced that the Green Communities criteria had just included PHIUS+ 2015 certification as one of the highest energy point options.

Other affordable housing agencies also have made a move: the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) awarded bonus points in its last round of selecting projects for Low Income Housing Tax Credits. More recently the New York State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) effort was mentioned in a release regarding energy efficiency measures from the White House. Those agencies now directly encourage passive building standards in their RFPs. Remarkable!

Sam Rashkin, U.S. D.O.E. -- Closing Plenary Keynote

Sam Rashkin, U.S. D.O.E. — Closing Plenary Keynote

On the other coast. Seattle just amended their multifamily building code to allow additional floor area ration (FAR) for projects that meet the PHIUS+ 2015 criteria. That’s a significant incentive for developers.

Things are cookin’!

The core conference, as usual, was chock full of goodness. There were examples of how the new PHIUS+ 2015 climate specific passive building standards helped to optimize costs both here in North America (presentations by Chicago’s Tom Bassett-Dilley, Dan Whitmore, and) and internationally (Günther Gantolier from Italy). There were nuts-and-bolts presentations on wall assembly solutions (Tom Bassett-Dilley again), air and water barrier best practices (Marcus and Keith). And, the Builders Hootenanny—led by Hammer & Hand’s Sam Hagerman, focused on component challenges such as sourcing airtight FDA approved doors for commercial construction.

The U.S. DOE’s Sam Rashkin closed the conference with an unexpected message: he suggested that we needed to rename a few things to facilitate behavioral change. He posited that ZERH, LEED, PHIUS and other green building programs are essentially fossil fuel use rehab centers trying to rehabilitate an addicted nation and to show how it can be done differently. He received a standing ovation.

A few more comments on pre-conference workshops – three WUFI Passive classes drew almost 80 people and they all were super happy throughout the two days! Who would have thought! Happy people energy modeling!

LEFT: Marc Rosenbaum's lecture on Renewables -- RIGHT: Joe Lstiburek on Multifamily Building Science & HVAC

LEFT: Marc Rosenbaum’s lecture on Renewables — RIGHT: Joe Lstiburek on Multifamily Building Science & HVAC

Marc Rosenbaum single-handedly won first place in registering the most people for his class to connect passive principles with renewables to get to positive energy buildings (the logical next step).

Joe Lstiburek placed a close second (sorry Joe) and did a phenomenal job in covering ventilation concerns in large multifamily buildings. Rachel Wagner showed the most awesome cold climate details that I have ever seen. Galen Staengl took folks on a spin to design multifamily and commercial mechanical systems.

And Gary Klein topped it all off by reminding us that without efficient hot water systems design in multifamily, no cigar!

Thanks to all presenters and keynotes! You made this an excellent and memorable event.

I have not even mentioned the first North American Passive Building Project Awards—the entries were just beautiful projects—check out the winners here. I must mention the overall Best Project winner of 2015, as I believe this is pivotal: Orchards at Orenco. What a beautiful project, the largest fully certified PHIUS+ project in the country to date, a game-changer, underlining affordable multifamily projects on the rise.

I’m extremely happy that the Best Projects winners for young CPHC/architects was a tie, and both winners are women! Congrats to Barbara Gehrung and Tessa Smith! Go girls, you are the next generation of leaders!

L-R: Best Overall Project: Orchards at Orenco; Best Project by CPHC under 35 (tie): Island Passive House, Tessa Smith; Best Project by CPHC under 35 (tie): ECOMod South, Barbara Gehrung

L-R: Best Overall Project: Orchards at Orenco; Best Project by CPHC under 35 (tie): Island Passive House, Tessa Smith; Best Project by CPHC under 35 (tie): ECOMod South, Barbara Gehrung

One last note on a thing: Passive building people know how to party while devouring the most challenging, inspiring energy science, details, philosophies (Jevons paradox – Zack Semke’s fascinating lunch keynote) from the field.

And the architectural boat tour on Saturday to top it all off was almost surreal. When we were all out on Lake Michigan and the fireworks went off over the magnificent skyline, I thought, “that’s how we roll :).” Plus, the docent from the Chicago Architecture Foundation was a font of information, and even long-time Chicagoans learned a lot along the way. If you weren’t there, you missed the best passive building party of the year, maybe ever. (But we’ll try to top it, promise.)

Finally, for the crew that just can’t get enough, the Passive Projects Tour on Sunday was, as always, an enormous hit. Tom Bassett-Dilley and Brandon Weiss put together an array of completed and in-progress projects that generated a buzz at every stop. Thanks to Tom and Brandon and to PHA-Chicago for all your help!

Cheers!

Kat

 

The North American Passive House Conference in San Francisco – a hard act to follow for NAPHC2015 (in Chicago)

Every year we say “This was the best passive house conference ever, we better stop now, we can’t possibly top this experience, the quality of the presenters, the “meat on the building science bones” presentations, technical details and specific construction solutions, cutting edge projects of all building types showcased throughout all climate zones, policy and government role discussions and incentives… and this year in addition to the Builders’ Hootenanny the Architects’ Hootenanny which, you might have guessed, was a hoot.

Let me take this opportunity to thank our community of longstanding CPHCs, PHIUS Certified Builders and PHIUS+ Raters who have shared this passive building path with us now for almost 10 years. It has been a pleasure knowing so many great folks with their hearts in the right place and a common characteristic: a determined pioneering spirit to make the energy transition in the way we build and live happen. Thanks to all passive building practitioners and to newcomers to the conference especially the international speakers from the UK and Japan.

Together you submitted nearly 100 abstracts and we had a hell of a time to choosing the best ones. We ended up with an unprecedented total of 72 sessions in 4 tracks this year, more than ever before (we cut the plenary short upon your request to get to the meaty sessions quicker and to have more of them).

Special thanks go to Sam Rashkin from the DOE, for his invaluable contributions to the tracks on government perspective and for the great partnership he and the DOE have provided to the PHIUS+ certification program over the past couple of years. Sam took time to be with us on the Sunday tour of passive buildings in the bay area, which was a lot of fun.

I would especially like to thank all of our outstanding pre-conference workshop presenters who covered topics in great depth, most popular were the Multifamily Palooza (kicked off by Chris Benedict who currently leads the field with the most passive projects in this sector realized), Passive Building Science with Joe Lstiburek (our unofficial lounge sponsor), packed the house closely followed by Mechanical Systems and commercial applications. Many thanks to the outstanding instructors who tackled more specific technical issues and new frontiers, such as efficient water systems design by Gary Klein, and Matthias Patzold from the Fraunhofer IBP and PHIUS staff presenting on dynamic energy modeling in WUFI Passive, THERM/windows modeling and PHIUS+ certification QAQC during the rater training. To all our presenters, pre-conference and main session: Thank you all so much! It would have not been possible without you!!!!

We owe many thanks to Michael Hindle, our charismatic Master of Ceremonies, and President of the Board of Managers of Passive House Alliance US (PHAUS). His opening speech was inspiring, artful and philosophical, The Passive House Alliance is now 16 chapters strong with 7 more in formation all over the country. It is starting to develop an impressive momentum regarding advocacy for passive buildings across the nation. Michael pledged to the membership that he would keep increasing member benefits and participation opportunities and closed with a call for action to join the many committees that have been formed to get the work done.

Michael also made a very well received announcement: the PHAUS  board has moved to remove any reference to a specific passive house standard from chapter founding documents. This decision rightly recognizes that since the inception of the passive house concept in the 70s in North America, it has undergone more than just one transformation and that evolution and learning will continue. It must continue to evolve for us to be successful. PHAUS leadership supports the new climate specific Passive Building standards brought forward by PHIUS as part of such evolution.

Bill Rose followed with the most thoughtful, most provocative keynote given at the North American Passive House Conference yet. Many of you came to me afterwards expressing that sentiment. He showed a short video recording from the early 70s of the researchers credited with formalizing the superinsulation/passive concepts. They worked at the Small Homes Council, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Illinois. The video reinforced the notion that the passive house community has a longstanding history here in the United States. He then showed a document written by the Nixon administration predicting peak oil and climate change to happen in 2010. It was a stunning piece of evidence that the issues had been known then, as well as the possible remedies outlined in the document. The document, then issued a clear call for action, recognizing the emerging passive community as having the best approach for reducing the demand side of buildings.

Rose made clear that facing the climate crisis means we also need to step up to transform the supply side of the system, coming up with strategies of how to keep the fossil fuel reserves in the ground and how to challenge the current economies that are all built around such assets. He ended provocatively saying, that we need to get to a point where we will be saying: “Energy (fossil fuels), what’s that?”

After the keynote and during all breaks, the exhibit hall was buzzing. A big thank you to all exhibitors of high performance materials and technologies! Every year the cast has been expanding significantly and new useful materials and systems manufacturers join the core group of providers. Thank you, without your products and services it would be impossible to realize passive buildings as well as we now do. Of course, also thank Exhibit Hall sponsor Bayer MaterialScience and our lanyard sponsor Hayward Lumber. Bill Hayward joined us on the tour and provides some great local background. Be sure to check the Hayward Health Home, a very cool initiative.

Achilles Karagiozis delivered the closing keynote. He spoke on the view forward, the implementation of passive buildings worldwide in all different climate zones and the challenges and responsibilities that come with it. He stressed the importance of dynamic modeling for accurate energy prediction results as passive building is applied in different climate zones. He cited an astounding example: WUFI Passive is now able to predict insulation material dependence on temperature on an hourly basis. And of course, this is important to assess hygrothermal performance of enclosures as well as to get the energy balances calculated with more accurate granularity. A great new age has arrived for us designers to manage our risks in designing passive buildings, thanks to the emergence of more powerful computing capabilities that make dynamic models feasible.

At closing, maybe best of all, the incredible sense of community of people who trust each other and know each other well:  We have been coming together now for almost a decade, reuniting at this amazing annual event working together to devise solutions for the North American market, its climate zones and building sector.

And this year, for the first time, the event was held in one of the largest and most exciting metropolitan areas: the San Francisco Bay area. This meant a significant step up from the previous conferences and importance in visibility of our community to city and government leaders, in California and beyond.  Passive building has turned the corner. And so has PHIUS as we were more than once told during the event by you.

PHIUS’ Senior Scientist Graham Wright’s presentation on new North American Passive Building Standards that are currently being completed under a DOE Building America grant was very well received: “This sounds like a really good program” was consistent feedback. The interest was so large that the session had to be moved from the break out room to the ball room. Most everybody was in support, not one negative comment! Kudos to excellent work by Graham Wright and a clearly laid out and scientifically founded argument by the tech committee.

And last but not least thanks to the PHAUS San Francisco chapter and John Sarter and Lizzie Adams from PHCA for helping to organize a fantastic tour of project on a beautiful Sunday in paradise: From multiuse building to state of the art office building to residential retrofit projects, it was great!

Thank you all for coming, for your contributions, participation and feedback on what to do better next year. Keep it coming so that the next act will be better yet again… see you in Chicago, details to come!