475 is always looking to enable more efficient, more robust high-performance buildings: Passive Houses and the spectrum of greater efficiency leading to Passive House. The mantra is reduce the energy demand, reduce the need to produce power, increase the resiliency. But let’s face it, “Net Zero Buildings” as a term has incredible emotional pull. Never mind the debate that net zero isn’t really net zero – people viscerally connect with the term and the gadgets it implies, and they want it. The problem with net zero is simply that you can still have a really shitty building – uncomfortable, inefficient and unhealthy – and zero it out with a huge pile of renewables. The emphasis on energy production is wrongheaded – whether you’re making a fossil fuel or a clean fuel.
Effective climate action requires that we not only decarbonize production but decouple a rising standard of living from the need for rising energy production. And Passive House is one important tool in making that disruptive transition a reality.
And Net Zero Buildings: Passive House + Renewables is a new book that shows that it can not only be done but is being done, across North America and around the world. And it shows that Passive House makes net zero easier and cheaper. The buildings are beautiful, and regionally and stylistically varied. Written by Mary James and produced by the North American Passive House Network (NAPHN), and 475 is proud to have played a small part in helping make this book. 475 founding partner, Ken Levenson, also contributed to the book’s Forward as a Co-President of NAPHN.
So the next time someone tells you they want a net-zero building, hand them this great book (soon to be in paperback) and say “fine – but let’s make it right and make it Passive first”.