Clare Parry

The Passive House Association is on a roll and now it’s looking for fresh blood for its board to help it snare a bigger share of sustainable thinking and development.

According to Clare Parry who chairs the board of five directors, the team is seeking people with a diverse skill set to help build capacity. Preferenced will be people from government, those with knowledge of sustainable building materials and housing, or social housing.

There’s an increasingly strong body of work out of the ground or emerging that will engage the new directors, Parry says. This includes three leading developers looking seriously at using the method for their multi-residential projects in Melbourne and the new 10,000 square metres TED (Technical Education) building at Monash University guided by campus manager energy and water Rob Brimblecombe.

There are also projects at the University of Melbourne that Parry’s company Grün Consulting has worked on, the 600 sq m Wade Institute, and a 200-unit student housing residence under construction.

Parry said interest in general was growing strongly.

“It’s phenomenal; it’s accelerating,” she says.

There was growth in the number of courses to certify designers and tradespeople in the relevant skills and the association now had about 130 members, with about half of these companies.

Most of the demand, she says, is driven by clients rather than architects and designers, “people who’s seen it on Grand Designs or who are expats who back to Australia and can’t believe how bad our buildings are.”

Partly the interest was benefiting from the continual search for the “next best thing”, Parry said. But there was also a more rational basis. Energy savings were generally 75-90 per cent conventional energy use, averaged over summer and winter.

“It’s not about bling. It’s about the inherent performance of a building. It’s about making sure it has inherent performance before you add technical systems.”

Costs tended to be 10-20 per cent above regular capital costs, but in terms of lifecycle costs PH “wins hands down”, she said.

So what about Passive House’s reputation for air tightness and the growing concern about mould?

Parry said in fact Passive House lowered the potential for mould.

“The great thing about Passive House is that its inherent characteristics eliminates mould. It increases surface temperatures inside and limits relative humidity.”

See the Passive House site for more information.

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  1. Massive problem:
    ‘expats who [come] back to Australia and can’t believe how bad our buildings are.”

    Maybe more stories on this problem – i mean The Problem of just how bad our buildings are . . . Inst of Architects not much use, so who is to help?