It always feels great to get another successful Regional Conference behind us. The PHnw Event
Committee, led by Alex Boetzel, did an outstanding job in bringing it together and making it
happen. The March event was well attended, very well received, and was a day full of interesting,
informative, and thought provoking speakers and presentations.
There were a couple of important takeaways for me. One was the need to address the plug load
issue. Some PH practitioners in the U.S. are finding that the PHPP under-estimates the plug load
component of the Primary Energy calculations. This may be due to lifestyle differences between
U.S. building users and our European counterparts – e.g. Americans often have more than one
TV, and may not be cognizant of all the phantom loads our gadgets are using when turned off.
Should the PH standard be adjusted in the US to account for this? – I think not, but we do need to
more accurately predict our clients’ true habits, and understand that this may make it even harder
to meet the Passive House criteria.
Another takeaway from the Regional Conference was the need to re-think the approach we’ve
taken toward spreading the Passive House message. Jerry Yudelson’s keynote asked whom
we’re marketing to (e.g. men vs. women; mainstream vs. a niche market), and whether we need
to adjust our approach to be more effective. He suggested that the word “passive” evoked a
weakness that may turn some potential clients and others away. The PHnw Outreach Committee
is gearing up for 2012, and this topic will definitely be part of those discussions.
And, lastly, I came away from the Conference feeling, as always, so impressed with Portland, and
the great work coming out of that city. On the drive back to Seattle afterwards, my colleagues and
I were trying to put our finger on why so many more interesting and significant projects (including
multi-family and commercial) come out of Portland than Seattle. We remarked on the existence
of more established contractors and design/build firms (such as Green Hammer and Hammer
and Hand), that had already made a name for themselves doing sustainable projects, and have
embraced the PH Standard. But it’s more than the businesses interested in Passive House –
there’s something about the culture of Portland that’s a little more forward thinking, and focused.
And it’s not just the PH practitioners – the media is more receptive there, and the policy makers,
and the general public.
It must be something in the water. Or the beer.
President, Passive House Northwest
P.S. If you haven’t done so already, please cast your ballot for the PHnw Board of Directors.