October 17, 2020


We know that the airtightness and filtered fresh air ventilation of Passive House design delivers superior indoor air quality to residents. These benefits are well-documented and are a key reason that many choose to live or work in Passive House buildings. But what happens when wildfire smoke creates unprecedented levels of pollution with astronomical particulate counts and AQI indices of 600 or higher? Is the superior indoor air quality of Passive House enough during these intense events? If not, what can we do to ensure that the air in Passive House buildings isn’t just better than in conventional buildings, but truly healthy, even when the air outside is hazardous?

With huge wildfires hitting the west coast of the United States, Siberia, Europe, Australia, and beyond, we need answers. At Passive House Accelerator’s virtual Roundtable discussion, “Passive House on the Frontlines: Wildfire Smoke & Indoor Air Quality”, homeowners and occupants shared the tweaks and additions that they are making to their ventilation systems to create havens of clean air during these climate fire events. We had Passive House residents from North America and Australia share their stories and a group of Passive House experts on hand to dive deep into what works and what doesn’t. We saw monitoring data, photos of interventions, and actionable recommendations for how to batten the hatches against wildfire smoke.

Graham Irwin of Essential Habitat Architecture moderated the session. Panelists included:

  • Chie Kawahara, Passive House resident, Midori Haus
  • Jonathan Kaplan, Passive House resident
  • Stephen Aiguier, Green Hammer, Passive House resident, Tillamook Row
  • Cameron Munro, Passive Analytics, Passive House resident
  • Laura Nettleton, Thoughtful Balance, ROCIS participant
  • John Semmelhack, Think Little

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