A group of about 130 designers, builders, and Passivhaus fans gathered at U Mass Boston on October 27, 2012 to attend a one-day conference organized by Passive House New England.
It’s impossible for this report to be comprehensive, unfortunately, and I won’t be able to do justice to all of the conference events. My report will focus on three speakers: Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, and Roger Normand. Among the presentations not reported on here:
- A presentation by architect Jesse Thompson of Portland, who showed what specification changes would be necessary to nudge several run-of-the-mill energy-efficient projects into Passivhaus territory;
- A presentation by Stephanie Horowitz of Zero Energy Design, who described a residential project in Brookline; and
- A presentation by Laura Briggs that focused on the EmPowerHouse, a Solar Decathlon entry.
Adam Cohen urges clients to aim for Passivhaus
Adam Cohen is a designer at a firm called Structures Design/Build in Roanake, Virginia. In recent years, he has had a surprising degree of success convincing residential and commercial clients to build to the Passivhaus standard.
Cohen opened his presentation with some jokes about his corner of Virginia. “I work in the Bible Belt South,” said Cohen. “Right before I came up to this conference, my Obama yard signs were stolen. Someone suggested that I call this session, ‘Passivhaus in redneck country: Building for people who don’t care about the environment.’”
Cohen then shared an affectionate look back at his countercultural roots. “When I was 25, I was a hippie and an idealist,” he said. He showed us a photo of a house he built with his wife (see Image #2, below). “The house cost $3 a square foot. We lived on a commune. Back then, we were building off-grid houses. We were trying to live off the land. If we…