(VIDEO) Passive House in Mexico: Marisa Egea & Elena Reyes

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At the Global Passive House Happy Hour from November 18, we got the opportunity to hear from Marisa Egea (INHAB) and Elena Reyes (Passive House Institute). Elena has a knowledge base from Passive House projects internationally where she has consulted and certified buildings, coordinated the accreditation of external building certifiers and is also involved in training and developing tools. Marisa, co-founder of INHAB, a Mexican consulting firm for bioclimatic architecture and energy efficiency, worked on TAPHA (Taller Passivhaus), the first residential Passive House building in Latin America.

The two described the process of building thirty low-income Passive Houses pilots in four different regions of Mexico. For anyone who is interested in building in to Passive House standard in Mexico, whether the more mild Mexico City or a hot climate on the coast, you should watch the video below.

Here are our five takeaways from the night:

1. Discounts on Bridge Tolls

It should come as no surprise that buildings in temperate climates like Mexico City need far less insulation than buildings in colder climates. What may be surprising is that you can design homes without serious attention to thermal bridging and still achieve a Passive House standard of building. “In those climates, thermal bridges don’t matter that much,” Elena said.

2. Smaller Mechanical Systems

Homes in temperate regions (like Mexico City) also tend to require smaller mechanical systems because there isn’t a great deal of humidity and the temperature remains relatively constant throughout the year. In the case with the Mexico City homes described by Marisa and Elena, they didn’t even install active cooling systems.

3. Quality Air

Those who live in clement climates that won’t see a lot of variation in temperature may not see a huge decline in energy use, but they will experience less noise pollution and see major improvements in indoor air quality. In cities where air pollution is a problem, this becomes a major benefit.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

When you are introducing Passive House principles to a workforce who may not be familiar with it, build a pilot unit on-site if possible.

5. Balloons!

Perhaps the most important lesson that we learned was that party balloons can be used as an extremely cost effective tool to seal any pipes off before a blower door test. Marisa explains how at 1:10:45.

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