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Gunter Lang conference in Montreal/ NY June 2014

I was lucky enough to attend to a conference given by Gunter Lang ing. of Austria in Montreal ,
which was organized by a newly forming Passivhaus Quebec movement which should be called : Maison Passive Quebec in collaboration with Quebec section of Canada Green Building Council.

I was probably one of the least "professionals" attending the event,
as most seemed to be either architects, manufacturing reps or building techs.

I knew very little of mr Lang other than reading his name a few times in the last 2-3 years,
but he is a very charming and energetic person with deep convictions about PH standard and or energy efficiency in buildings.

You can read more about his life work and about him on his company's website :


And it is with his permission that i will treat you with a few images taken from his presentation.


A little mise en propos;
I thought i would be in for another "n00b" introduction on PassivHaus information and methods,
and that i wouldn't learn much more than i did in the last 2-3 years browsing through everything i could lay my eye on .

To my surprise, mr Lang brought up very different information , technical and informational ,
discussed less about "technics" and more about goals , and i've learned more about Österreich
predominance in the PH world that i could read about in 10hours of browsing.

We often discuss about Deustchland because it is where it has started and most products
( notably Fenster aka "windows " ) certified for PH come from there.
But Austria is up there with Germany as the early backers of PH and building efficiency,
even though we seldom read about them here.

I personally discussed with mr Lang for 20-30 minutes after his presentation,
i could easily feel why he is a leader for building efficiency in his country.

Enough of my blablabla , i will now try to sum up the conference for all of you who couldn't assist,
as some of his slides contain information that i have not see too much floating around here.

Please excuse my poor english and syntax, i will try to make is short and concise.

Asked by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:25 PM ET


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So he opened up presenting himself and discussing about the fundamentals of PH.

But i'll jump right onto the meat.

Here you can see 2 slides showing some kind of contest organized by PHI
for window products , if i recall correctly, the products were analysed using cost vs performance
at their retail value and a chart was the output.
The winner is a PVC window that has a very short payback time.
It shows the average investment per sqm2 and 13% of average savings VS conventional windows during the product life-cycle ( the first one is @ 40%!!!! of savings during life-cycle !! )

Who says passivhaus rated windows have unreal ROI ??

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:32 PM ET


Basics of PH demonstrated.

Then shows us some pictures of his own house , built quite some time ago.
Told us that during a -20c day, his house stayed in the 20c interior temp without any heating through the day , using only SHG .

The next slide shows comfort is higher with a high performance building such has PH .

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:37 PM ET


He then discussed about Co2 and air exchange.
Succeeded in pushing a joke about "sex" is safer in a PH because the level of Co2 in the bedroom will no more rise higher than recommended limits.
The graph shows bedroom Co2 levels compared to the Pettenkofer- grenze reference level .

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:40 PM ET


Mr LAng then showed a few possible buildings and their performance to show us that it is possible to go for PH on every type of buildings, not just single family dwelling.

Please note the cost per sq ft of approx 150$ US for the student residence .
This is something we do not see around here for that kind of building,
and we will see a few other examples later in the presentation.

He explained with the help of the third slide here,
global climate/temperature and the "normal" variances, then pointing to the near future estimated values which are incredibly high and reinforce his position about the need for efficient buildings NOW and not in the future. Need to act NOW or the trend will go up and it will be too late.
Discussing about rising water levels and how even Montreal city could be affected within a few hundred years .

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:47 PM ET


The next slides are about large scale projects mainly in Austria.
The first one shows what used to be the largest PH project in the world, now 2nd.
It consumes the equivalent energy for climate of 6 regular family houses,
but for 354 apartments !!!

Have a look at the cost per m2 of those next projects.
City PH projects that would probably cost 3-4fold here in Montreal .

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:53 PM ET


Following is a very nice graphical representation of the cost effectiveness of PH buildings .
( at least in Austria )
He explained how a PH saves on many mechanicals and from the lines you can see that
meeting PH 15KW/hm2 line breaks the building cost of the cheapest energy efficient housing.

This one shows building life cycle cost on a 40 year estimate .
Hard to sell anything more than 10-15 years to clients in North america,
this is also a reason why PH succeeds in German countries, most homeowners are ready to sacrifice NOW for their country and children . We are so egocentric and naive :p

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 21, 2014 11:59 PM ET


Moved to discuss about industrial and commercial type of buildings , Co2 reduction rates for EU up to 2050 ...

This seemed to be one of his preferred building design, hard wood buildings are very popular in Austria it seems.

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:02 AM ET


This is a skyscraper on which he has worked .
14 years payback period !!!! He explained how this particular building is a landmark in Austria
because of what it means and where it stands.
If i recall correctly, is features a double shell glass facade .

And its consumption charts.

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:06 AM ET


Few other self descriptive slides.

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:07 AM ET


Cities in Austria and Belgium require PH for all new buildings and retros within a fixed period of time.

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:10 AM ET


US energy usage to show how you could cut total energy requirements of the country the same way they are doing in EU .

Then we can see how Austria was an early adopter of PH buildings , and then which EU countries
are going to push hard in the near future.
That represents ALOT of PH buildings in all EU for 2020 etc... !!!! impressive !!!

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:13 AM ET


I am unsure if fully understood this one ,
but mr Lang discussed about the energy equivalent usage of the building that is ridiculously high vs a very low performance and comfort result .

Again discussed about future implication of our current ridiculous energy usage and Co2 emissions and how every time we wait for the next project before going to PH, brings us closer to global warming crisis .

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:16 AM ET


First retrofit PH of Austria.
It looks more like a tear down to me,
but if you look at the details slide, he explained that the original walls
were mostly retained and it as insulated from the exterior .

Exterior insulation , all you can hear in your head is " exterior insulation " .... lol

Lastly the energy usage of the building for the next 6 years.
Notice how PPHP was close to reality.
This is some substantial energy savings.

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:18 AM ET
Edited Jun 22, 2014 12:20 AM ET.


He quickly browsed through a few retrofits, schools and municipal buildings ..
This one shows an amortization of 5 years only !!!!

Onto PH standards a bit ..explained the values quickly.

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:25 AM ET


US Portland retrofit which cut energy by 8x !!!

Gunter Lang then explained how a few years ago he was commissioned in front of 400~ government officials to predict the energy requirements to come and its costs.
They would need to build 9 gaz plants for the coming energy demand,
and he found out that using subsidies, his country would save hundred of billions and not depend on RU for the gaz etc... But unfortunately, even with the evidence he accumulated,
lobbying was strong enough so GOV did not listen too much.

I recall he told us that now they have backed up a bit, and he was a bit angry because he told them exactly that ~5 years ago .

Look at the difference between the "buildings" investment VS the additional energy investment...

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:33 AM ET


The nest slide shows how cost effective is to invest on building efficiency VS energy sources .

He then went on how we could do the same maths as he did for his coutry,
for US or for Canada . You understand the numbers by yourself please .. i don't :p

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Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:36 AM ET


Now his PUNCH LINE !
and i believe we all have to agree with him.

Energy efficiency is the best investment .

I really liked his enthusiasm about how we can all change our future
and how efficiency is one of the main keys.
Everyone could tell how passionate he his about his work/life.

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:38 AM ET



Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:39 AM ET


In the short time i hard to discuss with Mr Lang one on one,
i asked him about a few questions that came to my mind.

How he could explain the price difference between NA PH build costs and Austria.
He seemed to think that it was attributable to the labor efficiency, higher quality products and alot of pre-fabricated systems. Also the way they build is fundamentally different form ours,
and their style may be easier to adapt to PH type .
Their gov is currently investing in formation on PH building to all labors from carpenters to architects.

I asked about what is expected to be an acceptable ROI in Austria on additional cost for new and retros to PH standards.

He answered that it depends on the type of building, then moved into telling me that some of the PH projects have had low timeframes for payback in the 4-6 years .
Judging from the conference and some of the info he let through,
they may be inclined to accept a much longer payback term in average and we are here .

He commented while continuing the discussion with a third person,
about how going for "cheap " is the worst way possible ( most of what we do here )
Highest quality products are required or high performance, same with buildings.

But we all know that this is the "deutsch " way of thinking, it shows on all that comes from the german countries, mainly CH and DE , be it tools, cars or building products.
As far as i can tell, it seems to be working quite good for them for now .

High quality products require high quality personnel with self rewarding work and higher wages,
whereas going for "cheap" usually means cutting costs as much as possible for the company, hiring low salary employees ...
Are we seriously doing it all the wrong way ??

Look at German manufacturing plants,
instead of having 100 low workers assembling products,
they invest on automation, hire highly schooled and high wages operators
and buy automation products from their fellow local manufacturers who also
hire high salary technical employees to produce high quality automation products.

But why am i going into this now .. ok i'm tired and unfocus now .

So all in all, it was a very surprising conference, given by a very very interesting human with a passionate and expressive personality ; that may have "shifted" or introduce many of the attendees , to the Austrian way of the PassivHaus future .

May the efficiency be with you .

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 22, 2014 12:54 AM ET


UP TOP .. took me 2-3 hours to do this ...so READ IT!! :p

Answered by Jin Kazama
Posted Jun 25, 2014 12:57 AM ET

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