[GSBN] Embodied/embedded energy figures

Derek Roff derek at unm.edu
Thu Oct 20 15:28:56 CDT 2011

I think picketing Passiv Haus in Darmstadt is a great idea.  Maybe we could link it to the Occupy [Strawbale] Wall Street protests that are going on in the US.  

> I think it is very hard to justify a dependence on mechanical ventilation to get fresh air into buildings.

I'd like to suggest that it is very difficult to justify every system, choice, and alternative for getting fresh air into buildings.  Or, to put it another way, proper ventilation is a critical issue in buildings, and there are no easy answers.  I'm not in love with mechanical ventilation systems, but I also see a serious problems with most systems in most modern buildings of every size and scale.  Tight buildings usually have some level of problems with indoor air quality, and frequently with moisture.  Part of that comes from materials choices, and a lot comes from ineffective ventilation.  Passive ventilation systems that effectively bring the needed amount of fresh air to all the rooms in a house are challenging to design and implement.  Ignoring the seriousness and challenge of potential ventilation problems usually causes serious problems to manifest in the house sooner and later.  Creating a ventilation system that supports indoor air quality, conserves energy, and prevents moisture problems in the walls is a critical part of design and construction, and one that is seldom successfully met in either conventional construction or natural building.  


On Oct 18, 2011, at 11:58 PM, Tom Woolley wrote:

> Dear Derek and everyone
> As I see it Passiv Haus presents one of the biggest challenges to the Natural Building movement for many years 
> In the Uk , the AECB (http://www.aecb.net)  used to be a good advocate for low impact building but now it has sold its soul to Passiv Haus and seems to have reverted to the "Only energy in use argument"
> There are of course a number of passiv haus projects that have used low embodied energy materials ( particularly in Austria) but most do not 
> I have challenged the leading figures of the Passiv Haus movement face to face to justify why they exclude considerations of embodied energy but their answer is to say that you can meet their standards with natural materials. So why not advocate the use of natural materials then?
> Many of the Passiv haus approved windows are made from uPVC
> I think it is very hard to justify a dependence on mechanical ventilation to get fresh air into buildings.
> The achilles heel of MVHR systems is changing the filters
> Fundamentally passiv haus presents a philosophy that buildings can only be low energy if they use expensive high tech equipment
> In the UK and Ireland a passiv haus costs between 50 and 100% more than a conventional low energy house
> Personally I prefer the Walter Segal philosophy of putting on another jumper rather than sealing myself up with a lot of plastic and toxic materials.
> I will be in Darmstadt in November and am considering mounting a picket of the Passiv Haus HQ  for an hour or two
> Anyone want to join me??
> Tom

Derek Roff
derek at unm.edu

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