2015 has been a year of firsts, a year of growth, and a year for the history books. We saw Passive House buildings go big this year, and we saw architects, builders, and designers up their game, developing some seriously deep green, thoughtful, and inspiring projects.
From Regional Policy To Individual Buildings, Passive House Is Growing
Early in the year, we saw the New York Times pick up the story on the growing scene here in New York, and launch it above the fold. It was a great omen for the year. The New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, supports Passive House in policy, as well as publicly, announcing his support at the groundbreaking of the Cornell Tech residential tower. When complete, the tower will be the largest Passive House building in the world, and dressed head to toe in the best air and vapor control layer in the world: INTELLO Plus. Hardworking non-profit organizations like NAPHN, NYPH, Urban Green Council, and Building Energy Exchange have lead the charge and created helpful, thorough and design-conscious publications to guide the industry’s way.
Nationally, we saw Passive House held up in a White House press release as a solution to energy efficiency in buildings. At the New York Passive House 2015 conference in June, we heard Tim McDonald from Onion Flats tell of his incredible and brilliant adventures in promoting Passive House standards through affordable housing RFPs. The Stevens Institute for Technology won the DOE Solar Decathlon with a higher score than any team has ever achieved. And they did it all with one incredible design – made for affordability, reliability, and coastal storm resilience suitable of enduring the next Superstorm Sandy.
The market is discovering the value of Passive House design for multi-family, high rise, and affordable housing projects. This is where we’ve seen the market direction in Europe, and where we expect the US to continue as energy efficiency comes online as the viable and affordable “power source” that it is. We expect even bigger things for 2016.
475 Is On The Move
As North America wakes up to high performance foam free construction, we’re there to fill in the gaps in knowledge and components for professionals. We had many firsts and new beginnings for our team. The year started with a move to our new office and training center in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The space has allowed us to hold much larger stock, offer bigger and better events, and share our office with the growing needs of New York Passive House and Passive House Academy.
Also with the physical move we had a few virtual moves as well. We became “virtual tenants” of NYC ACRE – The New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy – which helps clean technology and renewable energy companies in New York City grow. We also started up a website for our neighbors to the north: foursevenfive.ca. Our Canadian site provides pricing in Canadian dollars and will soon have an above-the-border warehouse to go along with it.
We’ve extended our reach and output for building science in other areas, too. First, we welcomed Lucas Johnson, our fantastic and knowledgeable new Product Consultant for the West. Lucas is based in Seattle and already has a strikingly rich history in the Pacific Northwest green building world. 475 also began our webinar series, thus far completing half a dozen well-attended webinars, with many more to come. We developed 2 new AIA-certified presentations to add to our list of available courses: High Performance Roof Daylighting and Toward Safe and Natural High Performance Building Enclosures. Our ebooks have made a huge splash, with thousands of professionals downloading our I-joist and 2x Framing books that were released in 2015. We also had our biggest video releases ever, looking at everything from fine details to big projects. We’re pleased to report tens of thousands of you have viewed.
Our most popular window airsealing tape, Tescon Profil, changed color to make it easier to identify from other Pro Clima products. We were pleased to see Tescon Vana pass the test yet again, now advance age tested for 100 years of airtightness. That life expectancy is now proudly displayed on our Declare Labels – another new advancement. We received Declare Labels from the International Living Future Institute this year, making it easier than ever to include Intello, Tescon Vana, Tescon Primer RP and more into your Living Building Challenge projects.
We saw an old classic get an update: PHPP is now in version 9. And we brought entirely new products in to North America to provide new tools to Passive House practitioners. Solitex UM is our weather resistive barrier with a 3-D mesh rainscreen built in. CompaCFoam is the load-bearing insulation material you can cut like wood, to manage those hard-to-get thermal bridges. Finally, as a supplier of Retrotec blower door systems, we’re officially a one stop shop for all your air sealing and airtightness testing needs.
Conferences, Connections, and Colleagues
With our staff growing and community of professionals expanding, we were able to attend more conferences, expos, and events than ever before. We checked in with old friends and witnessed some of the most forward-thinking foam-free buildings in the country at the Better Buildings By Design conference in Burlington, VT. In the midst of record-breaking snow we held down the fort in our largest, most well-attended conference booth ever at the NESEA show in Boston. We swapped stories and made Mid-West connections with PHIUS Tradespeople in Chicago at the annual conference. We unveiled our Declare Label at the inspiring Living Product Expo in Pittsburgh, PA. We announced our Canadian website at the NAPHN15 conference in Vancouver. NESEA came back around to our home town with their completely sold out conference at Building Energy NYC. We were energized by the vibes when we spoke at the Building Carbon Zero conference from Passive House California in Palo Alto. We debuted our all-LAMILUX booth at ABX in Boston. We discussed the Cornell Tech building at GreenBuild in Washington DC. And we closed out the year back up north with our popular Historic Masonry presentation at the Construct Canada buildings show in Toronto. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We were happy to engage with many journals, publications, blogs, and tweets in 2015. Products, people, and projects were mentioned throughout the year thanks to the inspiring work of our customers and the connections we’ve made along the way:
- The Leaf House showed Dwell the value of the Lunos heat recovery system for small spaces
- Inhabitat gave us stunning images of Andrew Michler’s foam free Passive House in Colorado
- The SURE House masterfully blogged their way through the 2015 Solar Decathlon on Popular Science
- Some of our most popular videos were featured in Green Building Advisor and Treehugger
- JLC hoisted our I-Joist construction ebook into their Resources section
- Ken talked about the importance of Passive House in Politico Magazine
Last, but definitely not least, a huge THANK YOU goes out to our interns and other new members of our team for all of the hard work they’ve put in this year, and all of the value they’ve provided – from customer service and plan take-offs to detail and ebook development, office organization, business development, and social media. Can’t thank you enough Lauren, Danielle, Inna, Yash, Christina, Emily, and Justin.
Here’s to a fantastic 2015. And welcome to 2016.