While 2017 was a miserable year for many obvious reasons, we were fortified by the growth of high performance construction projects and awareness. From significant policy achievements in places like New York City, Toronto, Vancouver and the United Nations, to the sheer number of Passive House projects getting built and being planned – there is growing momentum for large scale solutions to our climate crisis.
As we all have a role to play in building the future we want – the rubber hits the road as we demonstrate what’s possible and become the transformation we seek. In that regard, 2017 was downright gushing with good news here at 475 with new faces, products, customers and projects – we see the dynamic high performance community maturing. We started 2017 with a blog post What’s 475 About – Reflections for a New Year – setting the context of our activities. So before we lose 2017 to to the recesses of our brains we wish to take inventory of some highlights.
The company saw some important capacity building in our staffing. Nick Shaw joined us in the spring. With a background in construction, a passion for sustainability and a PHIUS CPHC and Certified Builder, Nick is working intensely with our architect and builder customers across New York State. At the start of Summer Aaron McCormack joined the team as our in-house GUTEXPERT, previously employed at Ecological Building Systems in Ireland, Aaron is also a PHI Certified Passive House Consultant. At the end of Summer, Emerald Smith a recent graduate of Columbia University with a degree in environmental chemistry joined us as the communications manager. In the Fall Consuela Lawless became our first full time office manager. With a membership at Park Slope Food Coop and a passion for composting, Consuela keeps our books and our HQ sustainability habits in good order. And just before the end of the year, Savini Nenmini an engineer with strong technical knowledge joined the team providing online and phone customer support as well as energy modeling services.
It’s hard to believe that we’re now up to fifteen employees at 475 – and we’ll be looking to make additional key hires in 2018. If you have a passion for sustainability, construction, design and Passive House and would like to work at 475, please let us know.
475 started back in 2011 with a laser like focus on airtightness, and complete air sealing systems that form the cornerstone of high-performance building. From that core competence, 475 has sought to carefully build product lines, in tightly related concentric circles, that enable us to provide our customers with complete building solutions that provide the highest levels of performance. In 2017 we were able to add new products that inhance the lines we have as well as extend our offerings.
- Domestic Hot Water: Sanden SANCO2 allows you to electrify your building without compromise.
- Attic Hatch Ladders: WIPPRO, when Passive House certification and high performance is not an option.
- Smart Vapor Retarder and air barrier for commercial construction: INTELLO X is the next generation in tough building fabric that provides the smartest vapor protection and greatest airtightness available.
- An almost magical airtightness adhesive: Contega Multibond provides amazing adhesion to porous and uneven surfaces.
- A finished exterior insulation system you can be proud of: GUTEX Thermowall provides a vapor open, carbon sink, insulation layer with rugged and beautiful stucco finish.
475 Daylighting Grows Up
A critical aspect in expanding our product reach as been the expansion of our daylighting efforts. In 2017 we started by dedicating an experienced staff member, Ben Leer, to the task of representing all our custom daylighting solutions. In addition, a dedicated website showing product examples was launched: 475Daylight.com
Posts highlighted daylighting solutions from the adaptability of our all-wood Passive House BEWISO windows to their installation in a historic Brooklyn townhouse to the installation of the LAMILUX PR60 pyramid daylight system.
The Smart Enclosure takes off
We hear more about smart cities of the future, and we provide the smartest vapor retarder available on the market, but it has been particularly gratifying to see the growth in our efforts to formalize the idea and reality of a Smart Enclosure – a natural outgrowth our systems approach utilizing more sustainable materials. We started with a Smart Wall Primer and elaborated on the theme of making a sustainable future with smart enclosures. Then extended the idea of these best practices to window installations.
Increasingly Incredible Projects Across North America
Of course the most gratifying aspect of working with our many great customers are the incredible projects they are producing. We are proud to work with all of you. A sampling of some of the notable projects in 2017 include:
- ZeroEnergy Design: Prioritizing Building Envelope Resilience
- 475 On-Site: Frack-Free Housing With Bright Common Architecture
- Airtight Wright: Using INTELLO to Restore an Architectural Relic
- Hooray for Double Standards: Passive House + LEED Platinum in Quebec
- Path Toward Perfection: A Beautiful High-Performance Home in Egremont, MA
Passive House multifamily rise up
2017 was the year that Passive House began to stretch its wings in North America, and particularly in NYC, with major milestones in multifamily housing – really a return to Passive House roots. The Wall Street Journal took notice, hearing Passive House buzz in New York. Cornell Tech opened to students after achieving an A+ in airtightness. And a head turning survey by the CityRealty blog shows a virtual big bang of activity.
As 2018 begins, we’re reissuing the What’s 475 About – Reflections for a New Year (2018) – and look forward to working with all of you in expanding the reach and effectiveness of high-performance sustainable construction.