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Passive House New England’s Fall Symposium

A one-day conference in Boston will feature Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, Jesse Thompson, Marc Rosenbaum, and Martin Holladay

Posted on Oct 22 2012 by GBA Team

Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. New England is hosting a one-day conference in Boston with presentations on a variety of topics that are likely to interest readers, including "Passive House and Cost Optimization in the South."

Among the speakers scheduled for the upoming event are Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, Jesse Thompson, Marc Rosenbaum, and Martin Holladay.

The symposium will be held at the University of Massachusetts - Boston on Saturday October 27. The cost to attend is $75 (or $35 for students).

More information on the event is available at the Passive House New England website.

For more details on the day's schedule, click here.

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  1. Passive House New England

Oct 22, 2012 5:25 PM ET

Thanks for the shout out
by Kristen Simmons

Regarding Adam's keynote, one of the reasons we selected him is because he convinces clients to build to a much higher energy standard than conventional construction. Because of this, his projects include Passive House dormitories, commercial, institutional, as well as residential.

Virginia has extremely low fuel costs, yet he's able to show clients that the numbers work, even when clients only care about the bottom line green, not environmental green. If he can do it there, we can definitely make the same case here in New England, which has some of the highest fuel costs in the country. (FYI, the Virginia energy code is based on IECC 2009, the same as most New England states, so the same code baseline).

5.5 AIA and BPI! CEUs are offered. Plus coffee and lunch!

Other related events:
Sunday 28 October: Passive House construction site visits: 9am and 11am (included in Symposium registration)

Friday 26 October: Commercial Workshop with Adam Cohen: 1-4pm ($45 non-members) 3 AIA and BPI CEUs

Oct 22, 2012 9:11 PM ET

I'd really like to know...
by Curt Kinder

Whether and how PH can be made to work in the sunny humid south!?!?

I've written before that the PH requirement (as I understand it...) to meet heating, sensible cooling and latent cooling loads entirely via conditioning only ventilation airflow is arbitrary, capricious, and without merit as to ultimate building energy and comfort performance.

Oct 22, 2012 11:57 PM ET

How better to showcase Klearwall's Passive House Windows
by Jim Evans

We're looking forward to visiting Boston and introducing Klearwall's Passive House Institute Certified A-Rated windows to the attendees at Passive House New England's Fall Symposium!

Oct 23, 2012 7:00 AM ET

bang for the buck
by Paul Eldrenkamp

Thanks to UMass Boston for providing a low-cost venue for this symposium, which allows Passive House New England to keep registration fees low -- especially the student rate.

Kristen and Liz have put together an amazing line-up of speakers and content, but the best value and content of all will possibly happen during the pub session at the end of the day. That's what I'm really looking forward to.

Oct 23, 2012 9:13 AM ET

Edited Oct 23, 2012 9:21 AM ET.

Successfully signed up
by Lucy Foxworth

When I read about the conference, I'm thinking I am going to this thing. I talked my brother into going with me, I have the weekend off. I've got my hotel and flight booked, but I was unable to sign up. Will try again today.

Update - signed in. I am so excited. See ya'll there.

Oct 23, 2012 9:17 AM ET

Response to Mr. Kinder
by Kristen Simmons

Adam Cohen has significant experience building Passive House projects in the hot and humid climate of Virginia. If you are in the Boston area, I suggest that you come to the Symposium and learn more. We are also hoping to videotape sessions and post them on the PHNE website, with help from

As for the second point, the Passive House standard does not require that heating/cooling loads be met by the ventilation system. I don't know of any in the U.S. that do this, including my own currently in construction. The Passive House Standard is an energy use intensity and air-tightness standard. I think that it's fair to say that like a lot of "green" and energy efficiency standards, the thresholds are arbitrary (Passivhaus-Institute would reject that the standard is arbitrary). Like any other standard, it's important to review it by examining the standard's goals and whether or not they are achieved.

Oct 23, 2012 9:22 AM ET

Response to Ms Foxworth
by Kristen Simmons

So glad that you are coming! Try the link below, and if you still have problems, email me at info at passivehousenewengland dot org

Registration link:


Oct 25, 2012 10:01 AM ET

by Liz McCormick

I am also really excited to hear about the Parsons' Solar Decathlon entry, "Empowerhouse" presented by Laura Briggs from Parsons and Teresa Hamm from Habitat for Humanity. The project is actually expanding as affordable housing outside of Washington DC. I also like this project because it was developed by students. Many of these students are now deeply involved in the Passive House movement! It's great to hear that this type of building is working its way into the education system.

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