Passivhaus Affiliate

Reports from the 17th International Passive House Conference

'Cost-effective Energy-efficiency' was the underlying theme at the International PassiveHouse Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. Using examples of completed projects, experts from all over the world rdemonstrated the potential of intelligent architecture for cost-effective climate change mitigation. The spectrum of topics ranged from a 'historical' new build in an old-town district of Frankfurt, to the demands on Passivhaus buildings in Mexico and Scandinavia.

More than 1000 delegates from around 50 countries attended the 2 day Conference in Frankfurt with large delegations from the UK, China, South Korea, US and CanadaAmongst the UK delegation were PHT Chair Chris Herring and Technical Director Nick Grant, Anne Thorne Architects, Architype, bere:architects, LEAP, Brooks Devlin, Warm, Green Building Store, Durkan, Transition by Design.

"Efficiency is the key to the success of the energy revolution," explains Prof. Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passivhaus Institut.The reason is simple: energy not consumed in the first place needn’t be extracted fromsources that are more or less problematic. Up to 90 % of heating energy can be saved with Passivhaus. "If we are able to increase the energy efficiency of buildings to Passivhaus level on a large scale, then sustainable energy supply will become possible, even with rising prosperity worldwide," says Feist.

No other city has managed to realise energy efficiency in buildings as consistently as Frankfurt, hailed as the 'Passivhaus Capital'. "With over 300,000 square metres, we have more Passivhaus living space per person than any other city in Germany – and we intend to consolidate our leading position in this respect", says Olaf Cunitz, Mayor and Chief Planning Officer of the City of Frankfurt. "Our customers’ satisfaction is our greatest incentive for making an effective contribution towards the energy revolution", emphasises Frank Junker, Director of ABG Frankfurt Holding, Frankfurt’s municipal housing and real estate company. At the conference, Junker reported on experiences with projects involving around 2000 Passivhaus apartments over the past 13 years. At a development of 200 apartments in Hansaallee Westend, metering and billing of tenants is more expensive than the actual energy costs, so they don’t bill tenants! 

One of the first factory buildings in the world to be built in accordance to the Passivhaus standard is being planned in the northern Chinese town of Harbin. Projects like these are possible mainly due to the growing availability of high quality, energy-efficient building components including windowsthat can withstand the demands of extremely cold climates and windows with particularly light multi-pane glazing. The application of such products in retrofits, combined with renewables, will be developed further in the EU project EuroPHit, launched within the frameworkof the Conference. EuroPHit will see clear criteria defined for each of the steps in the retrofitting process with an eye to integrated design, ensuring that all disciplines involved are more closely linked with one another.

The new version of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) was also presented at the Conference. The tried and tested design tool is continuously being developed further, and will contain a more accurate calculations methodology for hot and humid climates and take into account the increasingly popular combination of Passivhaus and renewables. The EU-funded project PassREg, one of the focal points at the Passive House Conference, aims to optimise this combination for different regions, thus demonstrating how the objectives of the European Buildings Directive for 2021 can already be achieved today.

The Conference also saw the launch of the 'New Way of Building Memorandum'- A new way of building in a time of climate change and energy transition. This is an architects' initiative that calls for all those involved in the construction process to take responsibility for the  widespread implementation of efficiency measures– even if the necessary actions are not yet required by law or stipulated in regulations. Sign the Memorandum here:

The Passive House Conference organised by the Passivhaus Institut has been taking place at various venues for the last 17 years. This is the second time that Frankfurt am Mainhas hosted the Conference, the first time being in 2009. This also illustrates Frankfurt’sleading role in energy-efficient construction; with effective policy support, more than 1000 apartments, as well as numerous schools, kindergartens and other non-residential buildings built to the Passivhaus Standard have been constructed here so far.

The 18th International Passive House Conference is planned for 25 and 26 April in Aachen, Germany.


More reports:

Direct from Frankfurt: the latest in Passivhaus | AJ Footprint

Highlights from Fran Bradshaw | Anne Thorne Architects blog

Session Highlights | Australian Passive House Asssociation

Valentin-Senger-Straße Passivhaus School Complex | Nick Grant's blog

iPHA Council (image courtesy iPHA)

24th April 2013

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