Day 5 of PH2020: Choose Your Future Roundup


There is just one more day of the North American Passive House Network’s PH2020: Choose Your Future virtual conference left to go! For the past five Wednesdays, NAPHN has brought together some of the most respected members of the Passive House community to talk about Passive House design, decarbonization, and the future of high-performance building. Since all sessions are currently archived, registering now gives you the opportunity to participate in the live chats while the final sessions are running this Wednesday, July 29, and allows you to go back and watch more than 24 hours of previously recorded material.

The most recent installment of the PH2020 was once again multithemed, but at least two of the sessions focused on the importance of data collection and real-time monitoring to maximize performance and to better understand occupant behavior. The larger questions, of course, are: What data streams are important and what is just noise? Furthermore, what are the best methods to obtain data about tenant comfort—whether it’s real-time data from monitors or more subjective feedback directly from residents?

As with previous days, the program ran from 1–4 ET and the sessions were divided up to include two pairs of 1‑hour presentations held simultaneously and a plenary presentation to close out the day:

How Smart Is Your Data? What We’re Collecting and What it Means

  • Bhakti Dave, CPHD, RESET AP – Building Performance Analyst, AUROS Group
  • Matthew Bowers, PHI-accredited certifier, CPHC, CPHT, HERS Rater – President, Rochester Passive House Consulting LLC

New York City Public Schools: An Education in Passive House Performance

  • Jeremy Shannon, AIA, CEM, CPHT, CPHC, LEED BD+C – Director of Sustainable Design and Resiliency, NYC School Construction Authority
  • Paula Zimin, AIA – Director of Sustainable Building Services, Steven Winter Associates, Inc
  • Daniel Piselli, AIA, LEED, CPHD – Director of Sustanability, FXCollaborative

China Goes Passive House

  • Chiara Failla, M.Sc. Architectural Engineering, CPHD, PHPP Expert – Passive House Institute
  • Wei Kuang, M.Arch, CPHD – Passive House Certifier, Passive House Institute
  • Sichen Sheng – Passive House Institute
  • Berthold Kaufmann, PhD – Passive House Institute

Density Is Good & Infill Is Best: A Mass Timber Passive House Case Study and Call to Action

Owners Roundtable #3: Owners’ Feedback Loop: Occupancy, Measurement, and Management

  • Beth Eckenrode, RESET AP – Co-founder, Auros Group
  • Alex Kaplan – Project Manager, Hudson Companies
  • Ryan Cassidy, CPHC – Director of Sustainability & Construction, RiseBoro Community Partnership
  • Tom Shircliff, CRE – Co-founder and Principal, Intelligent Buildings, LLC
  • Tim McDonald, RA, CPHC, CPHT – President, Onion Flats
  • Emma Osmundsen, BSc (Hons), Pg Dip (Arch Conserv), MA, MRICS – Managing Director, Exeter City Living Ltd. (Exeter City Council)

As mentioned above, all previous sessions are available to those who have registered and the huge finale is just around the corner, so register now!

How Smart Is Your Data?

The first session of the day focused on Matthew Bowers’ certified Passive House home in Rochester. After moving in, Bowers wanted to track his energy use and indoor air quality. On the one hand, he is a building scientist and he wanted to know how well his building was performing in comparison to simulations. On the other, he is a homeowner and he wants to better understand what behaviors affect air quality and utility bills via energy usage. To do so, he reasoned, he just needed to install a few Internet of Things devices and then keep an eye on their results.

This was far from the case. He purchased several different monitoring systems, which each had their own interfaces that were incapable of communicating with the monitors or interfaces from other systems. His home had become a strange, postmodernist Babel filled with devices that couldn’t understand one another.

Though he kept up with the herculean task of digesting all this data, a typical homeowner would not be so diligent, which is a betrayal of the very promise of IoT technology. As Bhakti Dave of AUROS Group said, this technology’s purpose is threefold:

  1. To provide real-time data collection.
  2. To store data for historical analysis.
  3. To allow easy analysis of this data via an interface (dashboard).

If an IoT system is lacking in any of the above, then it’s not worth the silicon it’s made of. As Bowers and Dave reveal in this session, AUROS’ products do not suffer from the deficits of other, less complete systems.

Owners Roundtable #3

The owners roundtable continued where the Bowers and Dave session left off. Rather than looking at data collection and analysis from the perspective of a building scientist and single-family homeowner, however, this discussion focused on the many ways that multifamily developers can use data to alter tenant behavior and improve their bottom line. Though none of the members of the roundtable said it explicitly, the market may see a surge in demand for Passive House or high-performance buildings because of improved air quality, as well as lower and relatively consistent utility costs throughout the seasons. U.S. residents have enjoyed historically low energy costs and have largely been indifferent to calls to adopt stricter energy standards, but, as Alex Kaplan noted, utilities rose by 39% between 2004 and 2014, while wages only rose 0.9%.

However, market rate developers may not end up being the ones who spearhead adoption. Instead, affordable developers may be the ones who involuntarily make the Passive House standard far more common. This point was raised by Tim McDonald, who described his efforts to “nudge” affordable housing developers in the direction of Passive House in Pennsylvania. “The way affordable housing gets funded is through competition. It’s competition through tax credits, and there’s not enough tax credits to go around,” he said. “Well, who wins the funding?” he asked. “The one with the most points.”

This means there is no need to mandate Passive House. As each state already offers not only tax credits to affordable housing developers, as well points for energy efficient designs, all you have to do is convince housing agencies to offer a few extra points if the project meets (or even tries to meet) the Passive House standard. Like offering extra credit to a pack of grade grubbing high schoolers, each developer will inevitably come back with a Passive House design. “No developer understood what Passive House was,” McDonald said after Pennsylvania adopted the measure, “and yet more than 30 percent of the applicants took the Passive House points.”

The even better news is that Pennsylvania now has the data showing how well these buildings are performing, and other states that were initially reluctant to adopt a similar Passive House bonus without data may soon be convinced of the policy’s efficacy.

China Goes Passive House

This session showcased many of the Passive House projects in China and discussed the growing popularity of the standard throughout the five climate regions of the country. The session is a wonderful companion piece to the Passive House Accelerator’s Happy Hour with Wei Kuang, and is also a great standalone presentation on the amazing market transformation currently taking place throughout China. It’s also incredible to see the scale of some of these developments

If you want to see some of these projects for yourself, there’s still time to register and to catch the final day of sessions next Wednesday!


Jay Fox
Jay Fox
Jay Fox is a writer and musician based in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Crain's New York, Salon, Stay Thirsty Magazine, Aethlon, and…

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    Our coverage of PH2020 was made possible in part by generous support from RDH Building Science.

    Our coverage of PH2020 was made possible in part by generous support from RDH Building Science.

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