Passive House in the spotlight Grand Designs a strategy to raise awareness

19 December 2022 by Rachel Rose

Josefine Watterson’s Featherston home has just received certification but already it is doubtless the nation’s best known Passive House home, thanks to being featured on Grand Designs. Josefine is the owner, architect, Passive House designer, project manager and joiner, a noteworthy number of hats to wear. She deserves congratulations on a very high-performing build that came in on time and on budget. [Read the case study here for technical details.]

Josefine and Will look on as the imported high-performance windows are unloaded; a slightly nerve-wracking moment. Image: TVNZ

And Josefine—and her extended whanau—also deserve thanks for being willing to have film cameras document their lives before and during the build, all for the greater good. As we learned from the telly, Josefine is from Sweden and has now spent seven years living in New Zealand. She’s sincerely committed to promoting the Passive House standard as a solution to this country’s typically poorly-performing, cold, damp housing and saw a popular TV programme as a great way to get the message across.

“I wanted to raise awareness around healthy homes. A TV programme that millions of people watch was an easy way to reach a large audience. Change is too slow coming from a regulatory or policy point of view. It’s complicated, there are a lot of vested industry interests. The only way [New Zealand’s standard of housing] will improve fast enough is by increasing the demand from home owners. And demand comes from awareness,” says Josefine.

Josefine did an outstanding job of explaining how key components of a Passive House building work. As well, the time she invested in patient education also directly influenced the extremely positive opening sequence: presenter Tom Webster spoke with unabashed enthusiasm about the Passive House standard and how it’s the future for New Zealand housing. Tom’s line about “a house that looks after itself” was gold and an outstanding independent endorsement.

Josefine works part-time for a large architecture firm, where she’s focused on working for developers on large-scale projects. She is also available to work on her own account and is looking forward to doing Passive House design work on single family homes in future.

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