With certifications like LEED and Casa Clima becoming more mainstream, the green movement is constantly looking for something to push the envelope. The Passive House movement is one that is quickly gaining recognition in the green building industry as the highest achievement possible for a design. Unfortunately, the prohibitively high price tag on the entry fee for the conference calls attention to the lucrative business of certifications and the difficulties small businesses face in joining such movements.
This May, Innsbruck, Austria, will play host to the 15th International Passive House Conference. We were extremely excited about attending, since we are hoping to become Certified PH designers this year (once we work out how to afford it). However the €490 (USD$654) ‘reduced early booking’ price tag per person on the entry fee is prohibitive for us, as well as many other small firms I would imagine.
Despite the high asking price, we believe that the Passive House movement is commendable for pushing the idea that an affordable, efficient, responsibly designed home can also be comfortable. Requiring less than 15 kWh/(m²yr) for heating or cooling in the living spaces allows the inhabitants to almost completely detach from their worries about energy prices and dependencies on city resources.
And now that the concept of the passive house has been around the block a few times, we are beginning to see designs that are not just well-insulated blocks… but beautiful and aesthetically pleasing in their own right as designs.