Becoming a PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant

Becoming a PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant

Dear Readers,

William is interested in becoming a PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant. Which, is awesome! And I am super proud. And also super curious…

So, while I went ahead and made a step by step outline for William on what he needed to do in order to achieve the label of “PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant” (super fancy, I know…), I figured I could share this information with all of you as well! You know, just in case any of you became interested in obtaining your fancy schmancy certification as a PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant 😉

GBU’s 2021 Sustainability Symposium

GBU’s 2021 Sustainability Symposium

Dear Readers,

One beautiful Friday at the virtual Sustainability Symposium, William and I learned things. Lots o’ things. We learned concepts, best building practices, and financial motivations! Some of these things included: Transforming communities by retrofitting neglected homes to be energy efficient and healthy….the importance of material circularity for embodied carbon reduction…the necessity of ventilation in every home…and finding resilience in finance by aligning capital with incentives!!!!

Whoop whoop! What a Friday that was….

To consolidate all of those things into one key “what I learned” takeaway is super hard if you think too much about it. So, I’m not going to think too much about it. Without an overabundance of overcomplicated thought, my key takeaway is simple: The language you use matters. Simple. Yet utterly significant to every single presentation I attended that day.

If you want to convince a city council that retrofitting 6,000 dilapidating homes and buildings into super energy efficient and healthy structures in 4.5 years is not just a good, but a GREAT idea….then the language you use matters.

If you want the inhabitants of energy efficient homes and buildings to use the systems appropriately, while also valuing and understanding the ethos of a home built for net-positive and zero operational and low embodied carbon living…then the language you use matters.

If you want people to give a poop about the air they and their children breathe in their own home…then the language you use matters.

If you want financial institutions to see the value in investing in homes and buildings that are healthy for people and the planet….then the language you use matters.

Mudroom/Greenhouse/Leach Field Thing Sketches

Mudroom/Greenhouse/Leach Field Thing Sketches

Dear Readers,

Tired of technicalities and just want a glimpse of what this mudroom/greenhouse/leach field thing might look like??? Totally me too.

Unfortunately, what it looks like does depend on the results of the technicalities…so I am going to try to keep it brief and just outline the technicalities we kept in mind as we drew these preliminary sketches:

~ We don’t want this mudroom/greenhouse/leach field to be ridiculously large. It is to serve as a small addition positioned at our front entrance. For future prefab endeavors, it will have to arrive on its own trailer. But we don’t want it to take up the whole gosh darn trailer… We were thinking no wider than 12’ (that’s about the max width for a trailer bed), and no longer than 20’.
~ While maintaining a reasonable size, it must be ADA accessible. A wheelchair user must be able to easily access, and tend to, all of the plants in their individual beds/ leach fields. For that purpose you will notice that we are thinking of using the ADA T-Shape requirement instead of the 5’ diameter turning radius.
~ The addition will be a part of our home’s envelope, and must meet Passive House standards. We will have thick walls with the addition, just like with the rest of the house. This of course decreases our interior square footage, but having a well-insulated and air tight passive solar greenhouse that harbors an advanced and dedicated ventilation system is key to growing plants with little extra energy.

It’s a Mudroom…It’s a Greenhouse…It’s an Indoor Leach Field!! Part Two of Solving the Greywater Conundrum

It’s a Mudroom…It’s a Greenhouse…It’s an Indoor Leach Field!! Part Two of Solving the Greywater Conundrum

Dear Readers,

Yes. Leach field. Just when you thought this addition could not get any cooler with its greywater absorbing plants and front entry hobbit door~ we fully made it into an indoor leach field!

Ha! If your heads are screaming “What?!?” That’s fine. Ours are too. But I think we’ve got this…

Let’s start with the mulch basin. Remember how we were thinking of using that as the preliminary filtration means for our kitchen and laundry effluent before pumping it back into the house to our indoor green wall? Well, just as we ditched the green wall…we are now ditching the mulch basin.

Scratching it. Throwing it away. Mulching up the mulch. And…making a new and improved plan to propose to the PA DEP! Whoop whoop! So. Much. Greywater. Fun.

Here is what we are thinking of replacing the mulch basin with:

Presenting…The Phius 2021 Certification Guidebook

Presenting…The Phius 2021 Certification Guidebook

Dear Readers,

The Passive House Institute of the United States (Phius) has officially released the most recent certification guidebook. Yay!!

You can check out the guidebook here. It is 190 pages…and yes, I “read” through the whole thing. Did I understand all of it? Especially the bit about inputting information into the WUFI software? Nope. But was it a great way to get more of a holistic view of what William and I are getting ourselves into? Yup.

For those who are interested, here’s 190 pages of passive building guidance condensed into 11 bullet points. Again, these are a result of my version of “reading” in this specific scenario.

– Building to passive standards really is a necessary stepping stone to achieve the Living Building Challenge (LBC). The Energy Petal of the LBC requires a home or building to produce 105% of its energy needs through on-site renewables. Passive building not only makes this possible by reducing operational carbon in the first place, but it also paves the way to make embodied carbon the next beast of a challenge to tackle.

– We NEED to find a Phius Certified Rater (the person who periodically comes out to inspect our home through the build process) that is as close to the Land of the Laurels as possible. Not only would it decrease the burden for them as far as drive time~ especially with our back roads…~ but it would also be nice for us with the whole ‘building on a budget thing’… Sooo….Perry County friends….if any of you are interested in becoming a Phius Certified Rater…that would be cool! 😉