July 04, 2020

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While doing the dishes, I’ve been enjoying the podcast Revolutions — the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the French Revolution — and my mind wanders, thinking of our exploding environmental, health, and social crises, wondering what sort of revolution(s) it will take to fix our dire course. I drift further, thinking about how our Passive House efforts fit…and my mind wanders on to architecture, architectural expression, architectural capabilities…architectural revolutions.

A couple of examples spring to mind: The ancient Roman arch gave us a new revolutionary conception of interior space and the medieval flying buttress completely transformed our expectations of daylighting. These architectural revolutions forever changed the way we look at buildings, and they simply cannot be undone.

Today, Passive House, incorporating millennia of building science understanding, has started a new architectural revolution by demonstrating that the systematic arrangement of basic building architectural components can provide thermal comfort efficiently.

While perhaps not as obvious as the arch and flying buttress, Passive House is a fundamental new architectural tool, that enables a dramatic shift in our capabilities, addressing not just energy-efficient thermal comfort but also a much wider range of concerns, such as occupant health, climate change mitigation, resilience, and financial security. Consequently, Passive House is being used to support the creation of sustainable communities of all kinds.

Like the arch and flying buttress changed forever our sense of what buildings could be, once you realize and appreciate the logic and framework of Passive House, you can never look at a building the same way, ever again.

As I’m admittedly up to my eyeballs in helping to organize Passive House efforts, currently with the NAPHN Passive House 2020 Conference, running online through July 29, I’m left wondering… How long will the Passive House revolution take? What can we do to speed it up? How do we get the building industry to the tipping point? Will you join the Passive House revolution?

Happy 4th of July.

[Photo by Trey Ratcliff.]

Author

Ken Levenson
Ken Levenson
Co-Founder and Board Director at 475 High Performance Building Supply (475). Member of NY Passive House and the North American Passive…

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