Tag: Passive House

Building Carbon Zero CA Symposium Follow Up

The Net Zero California Symposium held today was engaging and productive. See this post for my summary, slides, and access to resources. My announcement of the symposium is here.

This post and the following links provide some additional detail. I also talked to a developer who is doing the first Passive House net positive energy+transportation infill project in the world(?) in SF.  What’s remarkable about it is the fact that these developers are connecting such big concepts to the ground with a real project and program for future development. VERY inspiring. When i commented that his project seems to be directly connected to Amory Lovins’ work at RMI, particularly the Reinventing Fire Initiative to get the U.S. off oil by 2050 and grow the economy,  he said he had not heard of RMI. When he finished a quick skim through their website, he said that reading their strategy and ideas was like reading their own. Small world!

The symposium began the conversation on charting the Bay Area’s and California’s course to comply with the new state legislation for net zero energy buildings by 2030. Here is a summary of my subsequent thoughts.

 PASSIVE HOUSE BRIGHT SPOT! With Passive House being such a simple and proven technology for reducing building energy consumption 80% and for creating better interior environments for any building from single family to towers, it is likely one of those “bright-spot” innovations that should/will be scaled to reap that benefit for society. It is an existing innovation that can be one of the front-line responses for climate change mitigation and adaptation and creating the foundation for a feasible and sustainable renewable energy economy.

ONE RIPE APPLICATION – AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Coming out of the discussion at the end of the day, it seems like one obvious avenue of application is affordable housing. I look forward to the larger strategy you/we develop. We’ll discuss implications for planning and see where that might lead.

 SHIFT TO AMERICAN DREAM NEIGHBORHOODS. I certainly found Alex Steffen’s presentation engaging. His characterization of the many changes on the urban front culminating in a shift from demanding the American dream house to the American dream neighborhood was particularly powerful.

BRIGHT-SPOT CHANGE THEORY. Reading up on Bright-Spot Theory (don’t solve problems but identify and copy success) after the symposium was also an added bonus.

FOLLOW UP. The symposium organizers will  uploaded the presentations to the website. I believe that plannes would find some of that material especially intriguing, particularly Joke’s Brussels model of public-sector intervention strategy for private sector innovation, and Alex’s mussings on the implications of technology and sustainability for a new urbanism.

Quick Links:

Announcement – Building Carbon Zero CA Symposium (03.13.13)

Next Wednesday (Mar. 20, 2013), the Sustainability Committee is supporting Passive House California’s one-day symposium on Building Carbon Zero California: Implementing Efficiency for Cities and Regions.

Go here for more information and to register (see also Passive House California). The basic information is excerpted below with additional information provided for the main speakers.

In addition, go to the next post on Alex Steffen and the future of the city and sustainability.

This symposium is about the next step for–and harnessing the promise and potential of–green building, that is, extending it to the city and regional scale for existing and new urban fabric. This extension will form the necessary foundation for a carbon-free, renewable energy economy and prosperity. This relationship between radically high-performing energy-efficient buildings extended to the city and regional scale and renewable energy is only one of the synergies of such a move. Such synergies will include improved indoor environmental quality and setting up the basis for the transformation of the built environment from being a net energy consumer to net energy producer for the first time in human history. This will usher in a new age of energy abundance based on distributed energy production. With this symposium, Passive House California challenges us to raise the bar on Bay Area sustainability by focusing on the end-game and using that gap between it and existing conditions to motivate the innovation required to bridge the gap and reap the rewards.

Symposium Description Excerpt

This day-long symposium will focus on large-scale commercial, institutional and educational projects with the potential for cities and regions to implement Net Zero strategies and discuss the impediments (and incentives) for doing so now.

Why? California already has impressive legislation in place that sets the goal for achieving Net Zero energy buildings by 2030. Unfortunately there are no clear paths for how this target will be achieved. The goal of this one-day symposium is to gather policy-makers, industry leaders, architects and builders to collectively determine how best to move forward.

How? Our presenters will be offering various examples of how and where high performance building targets have been achieved locally, nationally and internationally. We are looking to facilitate and contribute to the conversation that has already begun at various venues around the state. We will include projects that have represented multiple strategies to achieve Net Zero energy performance – including the Living Building Challenge, LEED, Passive House and others – and hope to open a conversation to find the most effective solutions.

Who should attend? City planners, regional legislators, architects, builders and developers of commercial, institutional and multi-family housing and anyone with a vested interest in moving California’s built environment towards our Net Zero and near zero energy goals.

Primary Symposium speakers incude the following:

Alex Steffen, Planetary Futurist, Journalist/Author, Entrepreneur, and Thought Leader. Alex will keynote the day’s presentations. Alex’s new book, ‘Carbon Zero,’ sees Passive House as a viable means to achieve our carbon emissions goals. Alex Steffen is a global voice on sustainability, social innovation and planetary futurism. He is an award-winning writer and planetary futurist, who speaks to audiences around the world. Alex was Executive Editor of Worldchanging.com after he co-founded the organization in 2003 until it closed in 2010. See also: http://www.ted.com/speakers/alex_steffen.html and http://www.alexsteffen.com/about/

Ms. Joke Dockx, Director for Energy at the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment (“Brussels Environment”). Ms. Dockx has supervised the transformation/ conversion of over 102,000 m2 of buildings to super-low energy standard construction within the City of Brussels. An additional 44 Passive House buildings are under construction. The City has mandated that all new buildings must meet the Passive House standard by 2015 and is on track to have most of the existing municipal buildings retrofitted to meet that requirement. Since 2007, the Exemplary Buildings partnership has assisted 52 Exemplary Building projects with another 44 under construction (collectively, over 15 million square feet of Passive House buildings). A growing share of the Exemplary Buildings meet the Passive House Standard, and it will mandate Passive House starting 2015.

Mary James, former Home Energy Magazine editor, has written her third book on Passive House buildings in the US, “American Passive House Developments.” The book is focussed on multi-family, commercial and multi-purpose projects already completed around the country. See here for publications: http://www.homeenergy.org/list/author/id/63. Mary James is the editor and publisher at Low Carbon Productions. In 2010, she authored Recreating the American Home: The Passive House Approach, and in 2008, she coauthored Homes for a Changing Climate: Passive Houses in the U.S. with Katrin Klingenberg and Mike Kernagis. She was the editor and publisher of Home Energy magazine for 10 years. She lives in Northern California with her two children.

8 CM credits pending.

by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, Sustainability Committee past co-director and current member/strategic sustainability advisor.