This blog post is a review of “Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes” published in 2015. This book is written by Andrew Michler and published by eVolo.

You may know of Andrew Michler from his writing on Inhabitat, prior to that, he was a builder. He is a certified Passivhaus Consultant and has designed and built his own foam-free off-grid Passivhaus home in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The book starts with two bold (but accurate, I would argue) assertions about modern architecture;

A majority of buildings have failed on the most basic level of interacting with the place and people they aspire to serve.

and

The principle of modern design was severed from the realities of a building as an environmental intervention by relying on technology to overcome conditions rather than adapt to them.

From this starting point, “Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes” launches into a global journey to seek out contemporary vernacular architecture. In other words, buildings that embody an attitude of hyperlocalization. Buildings that stand in direct contrast to the asserted failings of modern architecture.

The book is a joyous and lavishly illustrated romp from the US to Australia with stop -offs along the way in Japan, Germany, Denmark, Spain and Mexico. As you might expect, the stop-off in Germany focusses on a stunning example of Passivhaus architecture.

Each location has an essay by Andrew Michler followed by a selection of building profiles. Each building is documented with multiple superb colour photographs, the majority of which are by Andrew Michler. Sometimes there are also drawings and diagrams, and in all cases, there is a written narrative by the architect.

Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes” is a beautiful written and visual source guide for contemporary vernacular architecture across the globe.

The Place of Passivhaus in Contemporary Vernacular Architecture

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This blog post is a review of the 3rd, revised edition of “Details for Passive Houses: A Catalogue of Ecologically Rated Constructions” published in 2009. This book is edited by the IBO, the Austrian Institute for Healthy and Ecological Building. It is a large and hefty hardcover tome at 3.2 x 24.8 x 35.6 centimetres.

People often ask if there is a catalogue of suitable details for Passivhaus construction. There isn’t one, at least not in English, that I am aware of. Of course, this might be because it is possible to build a Passivhaus with almost any construction system, so such a catalogue would be a huge undertaking. However, this book is the closest thing there is to such a catalogue.

The purpose of “Details for Passive Houses: A Catalogue of Ecologically Rated Constructions” is twofold; to provide an ecological evaluation of a range of Passivhaus-suitable construction details and to suggest alternatives that “illustrate the possibilities and limitations of ecologically motivated material selections.

The book contains 130 Passivhaus construction details, with assembly cross-sections and junction details. The details are beautifully illustrated to scale in four colours throughout.

Details for Passive Houses: A Catalogue of Ecologically Rated Constructions” is an excellent reference for successful Passivhaus construction detailing.

Successful Passivhaus Construction Details Cover

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This is a Passivhaus Basics blog post that gives an overview of a specific aspect of the Passivhaus Standard.

The international Passivhaus Standard is a clearly defined and rigorous standard for energy efficiency, comfort and quality assurance of buildings. Designing a building to achieve the standard requires detailed knowledge and a rigorous methodical approach to design and documentation. To ensure this happens, it is possible to train and qualify as a Certified Passivhaus Designer or Consultant.

The route to certification is the same for a designer or a consultant. It is only the individual’s prior qualifications and experience that determines if they qualify as one or the other. For clarity, this post will only refer to a Certified Passivhaus Designer, but for all intents and purposes, ‘designer’ is interchangeable with ‘consultant’ in this context.

A Certified Passivhaus Designer, regardless of their prior qualification, works across disciplines on a Passivhaus project. Their role integrates architecture, structure, building services, building science, energy modeling and construction detailing. They will at times both support and challenge the other designers on a Passivhaus Project.

The Certified Passivhaus Designer on a project doesn’t need to be completely independent. They can also be the architect, structural engineer, building services engineer, or another consultant on the team. And the same person fulfilling two roles does have advantages. However, in many cases combining two roles requires more time and work than one individual has available. Regardless, it is best if the Certified Passivhaus Designer is an integral part of the design team rather than just an occasional consultant.

The Passivhaus Building Certifier must be independent of the design team.

A Certified Passivhaus Designer brings the detailed knowledge and rigorous methodical approach needed to design buildings to the international Passivhaus Standard.

043 What is a Passivhaus Designer

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This blog post is a review of “The Passivhaus Designer’s Manual: A technical guide to low and zero energy buildings” published in October 2015 and edited by Christina J. Hopfe and Robert S. Mcleod. Until now, there hasn’t been an English language manual for Passivhaus Designers. Training courses include relevant teaching material, but it is only available for course attendees and makes the most sense in the context of the course. This book covers all the main topics of a Passivhaus Designer course in an accessible and technically detailed format.

It is intended to provide a technical reference on important topics that often require more detailed explanations than can be found in most introductory handbooks. It is assumed that those reading the book will already be familiar with the fundamental principles of low energy design.

It is a design-focussed manual, bringing the academic and practice-based knowledge of the long list of authors together into one volume. Suitable background information is provided for each topic, but the main thrust is towards practical application in designing Passivhaus, or low and ‘zero-energy’ buildings.

Passive buildings are not all about technology. Their greatest benefits are not in avoided costs and emissions but in quality of life. Why did people meeting around our dining room table stay alert and cheerful all day, than in an ordinary office, become sleepy and irritable in half an hour?
– Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

The Passivhaus Designer’s Manual could easily be the textbook for a Passivhaus Designers course. It will certainly become the reference book of choice for many Passivhaus Designers and the source of self-study for many aspiring Passivhaus Designers

042 Passivhaus Designers Manual sm
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Passivhaus seems to be in the industry news every week. More and more projects are appearing all across the world.

It is often stated that the International Passivhaus Standard is the fastest growing building energy performance standard in the world. The first Passivhaus building was completed in 1991 and only 25 years later it is estimated there are now 50,000 Passivhaus buildings. This is exponential growth!

And yet Passivhaus can still be a divisive subject. There are still many excuses given for not doing Passivhaus – by architects and designers, by builders and by clients.

It is true; there are real reasons for not doing Passivhaus in some circumstances. However, in most cases the reasons are based on misunderstandings, myths and mindsets.

This post looks at 5 excuses and why they simply don’t hold water. Or rather, why they aren’t airtight!

5 Excuses for not doing Passivhaus
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