James: So the savings in fuel bills have been significant, but they’ve not been as much as you might have assumed if they’d been able to start from a point where it was a properly functioning building.
Zack: Absolutely. You’re addressing energy poverty and occupant health. Justice issues.
James: Yeah. Massively, yeah. We did a great deal of research with London School of Economics. They did a report called, Retrofit to the Rescue, which is online. It was funded by Rockwool—the insulation people. That just showed the massive impact. It didn’t create big carbon savings, but it made much bigger fuel poverty impact.
Zack: Right. So, what’s the December 2nd event about? Who’s going to be there and what’s on offer?
James: It’s sort of snowballed, actually. I’m really looking forward to it because I just thought it was a book launch and we’d keep it small and keep it fairly simple, but I’m really glad that Mike is coming across and we’ve got Passive House designers from Latvia and Ireland and the UK and other places coming together to talk about their case studies. It’s not just architects, but clients, as well, and academics. I think there are nine case studies that are being represented, so it should be a good night. I was just going to give a little intro to the subject, and then have a panel discussion with the people there because there’s such a wealth of knowledge in the room, and then we’ve got an audience of about 100 or so people for Q and A. It should be good fun.
Zack: It sounds like it will be. These are inspiring stories, the kinds of transformations that we’re talking about here, so that’s fantastic.
Just to wrap up, is there anything else that you’d like to share?
James: The only other thing I haven’t mentioned is that I was trying to make retrofit to this standard easy, and not to say that we have to do it all in one go. We were lucky that the project we were part of was the UK case study for a European project called EuroPHit. I don’t know if you’ve come across that.
Zack: I haven’t, no.
James: There were about 12 teams from around Europe and we were the UK one. It was basically step-by-step to EnerPHit. Where are you now, performance-wise? Where do you need to get to? And some clients, some of the case studies, they went all the way. We went 95% of the way there in one go. Some went 100% of the way. Some went 30%. And that really struck a chord with me because some clients don’t have the money to do it all in one go, but they might be able to get there if they do it in 20 or 30 years. If they can align their maintenance program with EnerPHit, and get the step by step approach, then it could work in a big way, and I think that’s what needs to happen.
So one of the chapters in the book is dedicated to that process, and I feature one of the case studies where they’ve done exactly that, and I’ve shown how to make the investments and make it in the right order so that you don’t end up ripping out something that doesn’t make sense later or you don’t lock in mediocre improvement and prevent better improvement later.
Zack: Really interesting. That is so important.
James: That was a no-brainer, really. Again, it’s a really small world of people that know about this. Clients, institutional investors…they need to be able to factor this into their CapEx for the next 20–30 years, and there have been some good studies—Passive House Institute has some small but good studies on how, if you’re the person who’s going to benefit from those fuel savings, you don’t really need funding to be able to do this. As long as you can make that long-term investment, and you’re going to get the benefit from it. This includes universities, some housing landlords, schools…there’s many building types that can do that and even the ones that can’t, you can find ways around these things.
Zack: James, thank you so much. This has been really great, and I know Mike’s excited about the trip and being part of the event.
James: I’m looking forward to seeing Mike. I remember he said one thing a few years ago at a conference: “I don’t tell my clients it’s Passive House. I just tell them it’s the best.” I thought that was really nice.