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Second Try: Wolfgang Feist Responds to Rideau Residences Controversy

Martin Holladay | Posted in PassivHaus on

The Passivhaus Institut has approved the release of Dr. Wolfgang Feist’s response to the controversy surrounding the Passivhaus certification issued to the Rideau Residences in Ottawa. (For more information on the controversy, see Is This Building Passivhaus-Certified?)

After GBA published Dr. Feist’s response last Friday, the Passivhaus Institut told us that the release of the letter was not approved. Now we have heard that the letter can be made public. Dr. Feist wrote:

“The Passive House Institute has developed the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) design tool to facilitate the design process and has instituted a rigorous (voluntary) certification process. … The certifiers are entrusted with upholding the standard and ensuring the quality of the buildings they certify. They thus carry a great responsibility in their work and must diligently document the building as well as the quality of the components used. Should it become clear that an accredited Building Certifier is not up to this task, it is the Passive House Institute’s duty to revoke this Certifier’s rights to certify in the Institute’s name so as not to undermine either the Institute’s principles or the Passive House Standard itself.

“PHIUS’ assessment of the Ottawa house, unfortunately, was just such a case. In fact, much of the essential documentation necessary to determine energy balances — the foundation for the entire certification process — was not available when requested by PHI. Even on the basis of the partial data provided to PHI, it was clear that any properly conducted energy balance would result in an energy performance far removed from the Passive House Standard. PHIUS’ latest statements have shown that the organization is not even trying to claim that either the 15 kWh/m²a heating demand criterion or the 10 W/m² heating load criteria have been met. On the contrary, they claim that these criteria do not make sense. There is no question that an organisation taking this position did not take and, indeed, could not have taken its responsibilities as an accredited Building Certifier seriously and was acting to the detriment of the Standard. It is simply irresponsible to misguide the public by claiming that such changed criteria lead to the same proven results as the well-recognized Passive House Standard does. Those choosing to use different criteria should at least be so honest as to not use the term ‘Passive House.’ ”

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  1. David Elfstrom | | #1

    Unfortunately the letter does not address the points raised in the earlier GBA article. If not hitting exactly 15 kWh/m2 then it is very close, apparently. Yet PHI says "the energy performance was far removed from the Passive House Standard". So what is it, PHI? What is "far removed"? Are we talking half a kilowatt or double the standard?

    Then by indirectly referencing Ms. Klingenberg's blog comments questioning the 15 kWh/m2 limit Mr. Feist proceeds to use that as support for how the Rideau Residences do not meet the Passive House Standard. Just because someone is questioning aspects of the standard doesn't mean that they can't do energy modeling or building science.

    I would like to see how the building performs without the arbitrary penalty of downrating independent performance data for the Lifebreath since it's not a PHI-certified product. If the home passes with the actual test numbers for the ventilator, well, then it wasn't at all "far removed", was it?

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