The blackout-proof home - Emu Architects

The blackout-proof home: Passive House with high time constant

Last week, our region (Emilia, Italy) was pounded with what locals are calling “The Big Snow”. With it came very tangible proof of just how fragile is our infrastructure, particularly our electrical grid. When my husband wrote this article, originally in Italian, FOUR DAYS after the February 6th Big Snow, more than 1000 homes in the province of Reggio Emilia alone were still without electricity, leaving 4,000 people to brave the cold, many without sufficient heating. How can we fix this problem?

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Our Passive House Italy group surpasses 2,500 members

In the past few days, our LinkedIn group dedicated to Passive House (Casa Passiva) in Italy has passed the milestone of 2,500 registered members, a sign of just how relative this subject is becoming for Italy.

La Casa Passiva in Italia LinkedIn

The European Near Zero Building deadline is indeed getting closer, with only 3 years left until 2018, when this standard will become mandatory for government buildings, and 5 years until 2020, when the requirement will be extended to private buildings.

For the past four years our LinkedIn group has developed into one of national importance.

It’s also interesting to see how the geographical origin of the members now extends throughout the entire Italian peninsula, and is no longer restricted to the Northern regions.

Example of mold - photo by Damiano Chiarini.

A Disastrous Case Study: How Replacing Windows Alone Can Lead to Mold

In our previous articles, we have cautioned that an energy retrofit should be approached with an integrated, whole-building approach, and by a professional with experience in calculating and simulating thermal envelopes. The photos below show what happened to one family’s home when they decided to do an independent partial energy retrofit, without consulting a qualified professional. In this case, they decided to replace the old windows of their house with newer, high performance windows, hoping that they would be able to reduce their energy consumption.

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