January 2020 was Retail Project month at Passive House Accelerator. We made a global call for entries, inviting project teams to upload their retail Passive House work onto the Passive House Accelerator site in order to create a showcase of this unique building category.
(Note: project submission to the Accelerator is easy to do, and free! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org get set up with login credentials and instructions.)
As many readers are probably aware, retail Passive House projects make up just a small fraction of the world’s Passive House buildings. In his interview with us last week, Andrew Peel pointed out that one of the reasons for this modest uptake is likely that many retailers are tenants, renting space in buildings owned by others. Passive House design and construction requires decisions and investments by building owners, but the benefits of those decisions and investments— comfort, healthy air, quiet, etc.—primarily accrue to the tenants, not the owner. In an ideal market, these benefits could be fully priced into rents so that the owner could recoup any extra expense for creating a higher quality building, but in many cases the rental market does not fully value the benefits of Passive House buildings yet. So, owners of retail buildings have a reduced incentive to invest in Passive House, hence the “split incentive”. (Creative and powerful policy solutions do exist to solve the split incentive problem, but that’s a topic for another post.)
This split incentive problem doesn’t apply to all retailers, of course. Some retailers own their own buildings, so they can benefit directly from investing in Passive House. Indeed, most of the examples of retail Passive House projects we see today are owner-occupied.
The retail projects submitted to the Accelerator last month run the gamut from a Passive House car dealership, a cidery, a chain of supermarkets, two different cosmetic stores, a restaurant, a furniture store, and an infill building with retail space for rent. They vary widely in scale, finish, and price point. They include both utilitarian structures as well as high design buildings. In all these ways, they are like a microcosm of the larger Passive House world. But they all feature stores that bring great comfort, clean air, and peace and quiet to customers and employees alike:
Scott Subaru dealership, world's first Passive House car dealership. Photo courtesy Peel Passive House Consulting.
Seminary Hill Cider Mill, world's first Passive House cidery. Photo courtesy of River Architects.
MPREIS Passivhaus supermarket. Photograph © Marc Lins Photography.
MPREIS Passivhaus supermarket. Photograph © Schaller Lukas.
BIPA Styling Loung. Photograph courtesy LIMITarchitects.
Passivhaus cosmetic retail space. Photo courtesy E2 Arquitectura e Innovación.
KOH Restaurante—Passivhaus. Photograph © Álvaro Valdecantos.
Tantrum urban infill project. Photo courtesy of Stark Architecture.
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