DefignTalks podcast talks operational energy

The first episode of a new podcast for architectural designers launched this week, and its first guest is Sustainable Engineering Ltd’s principal Jason Quinn. Hosts Glenn Murdoch and Casey Curtis kick off by considering operational energy (really, operational carbon) and ask, how big is the problem? As we design more durable buildings, does the balance between operational and embodied energy …

The Heights Whare keeps gathering attention

Newly certified LEB The Heights Whare has been featured in an extensive two-page (broadsheet) story in the Otago Daily Times. It can only be read online by subscribers (the ODT is the last independently owned major daily in the country and doesn’t give away its content) but these pics of the layout show the attention lavished on this terrific project. …

Bader Ventura is a certified Passive House project

Oddly, this write-up about Kainga Ora’s Bader Ventura project doesn’t make it explicit that the building did achieve Passive House certification. You can read a detailed case study by Sustainable Engineering here—our team certified this project and provided lots of technical support. The result is all the more impressive because Passive House performance wasn’t a focus from the very beginning …

Design Passive House for your individual client

Should Passive House designers be doing more to design buildings that avoid summer overheating? This article from mainstream business magazine Forbes considers Bahnstadt, a Passive House district in Heidelberg, Germany. The story quotes residents who were struggling to stay comfortable as summer temps soared in 2023.  The two residents have different motivations for living there and different experiences of their …

Replacement cycles should inform climate change mitigation policy

It’s curious there is so much public discussion about electric vehicles and why and how we should ‘flip the fleet’ … and so little about buildings. Yes, we need to move people and goods in far less polluting, carbon-intensive ways. But decarbonising buildings is even more urgent and the graph below shows why, in a compelling and easy-to-grasp way. Replacement …

Choose the right heat pump

Source: Coming in from the cold: Heat pump efficiency at low temperatures, Duncan Gibb et al. 2023 This graph from a recent European academic paper shows air-source heat pump performance in mild cold climates in Canada, China, Germany, Switzerland, the United States and the UK. The red dashed line showing average COP is not the important takeaway from this graph. …

Passivhaus Playbook a great free resource

The latest book from APHA is the Passivhaus Playbook and it’s great. I love the focus on the team and a successful process. The publishers describe it as “a nine-step pathway that covers everything from funding to design coordination and supply chain to storytelling … [providing] a process for a technically feasible, buildable, cost-effective Passivhaus approach to new buildings in …

Deep retrofits of commercial buildings make good sense

  The deep retrofit at 80 Willis Street, Wellington is featured in a just-released NZ Green Building Council publication, A practical guide to upfront carbon reductions. This is a project dear to my heart, as I worked on it years ago as the Green Star professional. This was the very first NZGBC project to submit carbon modelling using LCA Quick …

Air transfer solution: ventilated doors

Australian Passive House designer Matt Purves posted online some intriguing photos of bespoke doors he built himself from leftover spruce wall panelling. These were for his home in Tasmania, which is targeting Passive House Plus certification. Ventilation systems need air to be able to move freely between rooms even when doors are closed. This is most often achieved by the …