4th Biennial Humid Climate Conference to Focus on "Transitions"

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The Humid Climate Conference returns in 2024 for their 4th* biennial event, where leading voices in architecture, construction, and building science will speak on the theme of “Transitions.” It’s a timely theme. We find ourselves amidst a series of concurrent transitions in the AEC industry, and more widely in society, each contributing to a broader transformation. 

Transitions are occurring across multiple areas, the energy sector is evolving. The HVAC industry is swiftly moving towards refrigerants with lower global warming potential, and our approach to carbon accounting in construction projects is changing, addressing both embodied and operational carbon impacts. These changes are unfolding alongside pivotal advances in high-performance enclosure strategies, MEP engineering approaches, and public policy frameworks. They all intersect with Passive House in unique and important ways. 

The theme is not only timely, it’s also poignant. Some of you may be reading this from a place where Passive House projects don’t yet exist. You may find yourself feeling as though you’re swimming upstream trying to make it happen, hitting obstacles at every turn. But take heart. You’re not alone. We are making real progress across humid climate zones. 

Take the conference's organizers' story as a case study for what’s possible when a few dedicated people see clearly what needs to be done to move forward and stick to it. In the early 2010s, when Phius first emerged in Austin's design and construction scene, it met staunch resistance, dismissed as unnecessary and unrealistic for the performance needs of our particular hot-humid climate zone. Some even railed against the laws of physics. Pioneering ideas often encounter such opposition. 

Responding to this feedback, Phius ambitiously structured its certification program specifically to accommodate the building science and market realities of varied climates across the U.S. Even still, skepticism lingered in Austin's design and construction community, which is almost painfully ironic considering its previous acclaim for pioneering sustainable building initiatives. 

To alter this misguided narrative, the Phius Alliance Austin group organized The Humid Climate Conference. By showcasing building science as the core principle of Passive House, the first conference in 2016 garnered widespread support and has grown in quality and size with each biennial event. In fact, they’ve sold out tickets and sponsorships each year with excellent speakers, great food, and some of the best networking opportunities in North America. 

The education that The Humid Climate Conference has provided to the AEC community in the southern U.S. is now making measurable ripples in the market. Since the SARS-CoV 2 pandemic put a screeching halt to our conference plans in 2020, there are now 104 Passive House projects across climate zones 2A, 3A, and 4A, which is a 76% increase from just the previous 3 year period.** 

While they're not yet competing with the numbers put up by the Passive House titans of the Pacific Northwest, Mountain West, or Northeast, the southern U.S. isvery much on the move.  

It’s not difficult to understand why this is happening. The Passive House standard is the most pragmatically optimized, science-based building performance standard there is. As a performance based standard, it allows designers and builders to leverage best practices in ways that are accessible and make sense given a project’s typical constraints. While the standard has seen broader adoption in cold climates where humidity issues present in well studied and unique ways, the Humid Climate Conference serves as a pivotal gathering for experts passionate about humidity and enclosure challenges in hot and humid regions. Here, industry leaders converge to explore advances in Passive House applications tailored for these climates and strategize on addressing the broader societal transitions we face. 

The transitions we face are inexorable. It’s up to us whether or not we engage with them and adapt to the new realities in which we’ll all find ourselves, or get caught on the back foot. The Phius Alliance Austin invites you to join them in the vibrant city of Austin, TX for HCC2024 as we begin to navigate these critical shifts together and chart a course towards a more sustainable future. There will be nuts and bolts sessions about details and case studies, but you’ll also find discussions at the philosophical level that reveal new ways of thinking and talking about our industry. But most importantly, there will be tacos. 

Transforming the building industry alone will not save the world, but there is no saving the world without transforming the building industry. 

Tickets may be purchased at humidclimateconference.org.

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*2020 was almost a conference but then it fell apart because we all fell apart. We’re putting ourselves back together though and we hope you are too. 

**For those of you incessantly curious, these numbers include registered Phius projects, design certified projects, and final certified projects in 2A-4A only. There are no PHI projects included in these numbers. The Humid Climate Conference is organized and hosted by the Phius Alliance Austin.

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