475's 2013 Year in Review

It's been a momentous year, and happily, there is plenty to reflect on and consider for the future of 475 and high performance building as a whole. We'd like to share some highlights as we charge up to begin a new year.

The Projects and People

man through intello

First and foremost we've been amazed at how much great building there is going on and how lucky we are to work with so many great builders, architects, consultants and owners.   To name just a tiny sampling: from Chris Corson and Jesper Kruse in Maine to Thorsten Chlupp in Alaska, Andrew Marani and Entellis in Maryland, Steve McMannis in Pittsburgh, Andrew Kline in Ohio, John Haberzetle and Sloan Richie in Seattle, Jacob Deva Racusin and Alex Carver in Vermont, Habitat for Humanity Washington DC,  Andrew Michler and Cody Farmer in Colorado and many, many more than could ever possibly be listed.  We very much appreciate the opportunity to work with you all and look forward to building on our collaborative efforts in 2014. Customers, send us your pictures and we'll write you up - keep it tight.

Expanding Dialogue

Our Pro Clima membranes and tapes were named one of the top 10 innovations at Greenbuild 2013 by Inhabitat. Our high-performance systems were highlighted by industry specialists such as Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen.com here and here, and Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard here. We were featured by the Institute for Market Transformation, and referenced by The New York Times.  The Lunos e2 created a whole new category of ventilation in GreenBuildingAdvisor.com's overview of Designing a Good Ventilation  System.

NYC Sandy Blackout

In response to the climate crisis imperative and related events like 2012's superstorm Sandy we are active in promoting Passive House, low-energy, resilient building.  As president of NY Passive House Ken penned three blog posts: Imagine Passive House.  What is Passive House? and Why Passive House?  The last of which Lloyd Alter writing at Treehugger said "It is a pretty convincing argument that every building should be a Passive House."  Ken also wrote a public essay for the Sallan Foundation titled Building Efficiency and Blower Doors: Essential Responses to Sandy.  Ken has been honored to serve on the advisory committee of the Urban Green Council's paradigm shifting 90 by 50 report, be an active participant in the Municipal Art Society's post Sandy Road to Resilience program and most recently an advisor to Jeffrey Sachs and the new UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030.

We continued to speak out in the plastic foam insulation debate, including a major nod from Treehugger.com on our "Declaration of Independence from foam plastic insulation".  We continued on our slow march through the 13 reasons Foam Fails, and we took a look at reworking the foam dominated Mass Save Deep Energy Retrofit Builder Guide details, largely eliminating foam in the process.   More are becoming aware that spray foam can make homes unlivable.

Floris Keverling Buisman, an Associate Professor at The City College of New York taught the course Low Energy Building.  As a certified WUFI-ORNL Instructor Floris also taught the WUFI hygrothermal modeling software to professional architects and consultants.

With over 50 blog posts focusing on building science and real-world application on the 475 website in 2013 alone, the 475 blog is becoming a trusted source for practical in-depth information - useful to architects, consultants, builders and owners alike, across the US.



Based on real-world feedback and the systems oriented focus our architectural backgrounds bring to the task, in 2013 we've painstakingly developed complete foam free high-performance building enclosure details for several common new and retrofit construction types.   And thanks to the hard work of intern Mattia Lusignani we were able to generate free and downloadable DWG construction details that clearly describe them - can be copied, edited and customized by professionals for the specific project conditions.  We continue to expand and develop these details over time.  (Look out for sketch up versions of the details in the first quarter of 2014.)

Our work with WUFI has progressed as Floris, a certified WUFI-ORNL instructor, has produced hygrothermal analysis of many high performance assemblies, the vapor permeability of various materials, and how they perform together in real-life situations.  In 2014 we look forward to sharing many "typical" WUFI simulations on our website, expanding on our initial blog post: 475 Does WUFI: A Series Introduction (see here and here).

Friendly Competition: Middlebury in green and Norwich in black
Middlebury in green and Norwich in black

475 donated and discounted key building materials to Middlebury College and Norwich University for their entries in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 competition. Middlebury College placed 8th and Norwich University 12th, while the Norwich team also received the  Byron Stafford Award of Distinction.


Philadelphia Site Visit
Philadelphia Site Visit

In 2013 regional sales efforts gained momentum with sales consultant Oliver Klein in New England making presentations to the Passive House Maine conference, the AIA continuing education day in New Hampshire, and to offices across the region.   Oliver could often be found reviewing details with contractor and architect on construction sites.

Sales  also saw the start of rocky mountain regional product distribution through Arctic Sun in Fairbanks Alaska and Mainstream Corporation in Boulder Colorado.

The 475 office hosted many meetings with customers and colleagues alike. In particular we were visited by representatives from the manufacturers of our products, including Lunos, Lamilux, and Pro Clima. We were excited to have the opportunity to do a short-yet-ambitious East Coast tour with CEO and founder of Pro Clima, Lothar Moll. We were able to share his expertise and experience in person with over 100 architects, engineers, and Passive House enthusiasts.


We were pleased to conduct more than 125 AIA accredited presentations over the course of the year, including at Better Buildings by Design in Vermont and AIANYS.  In addition to our popular Foam-Free High Performance Building Enclosures presentation, we added to our library of offerings High Performance Historic Masonry Retrofits and Decentralized High-Efficiency Ventilation.

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Air Sealing Master Class

Beyond the hour-long presentations above, we also held day-long Air Sealing Master Class events in partnership with the Association for Energy Affordability in the South Bronx. We've gotten excellent feedback from attendees, who got hands-on experience with full size mock-ups and blower-door testing, all with a health dose of building science, of course.


475 at ABX Boston
475 at ABX Boston

This year introduced new opportunities for advancing Passive House and foam-free construction during 2013 building conventions. Many of you may have visited the Passive House Zone at Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia, where over a dozen organizations were represented. We were in attendance at the Passive House North 2013 convention in Vancouver, B.C. Back home in New York City, 475 co-sponsored the NY13 Passive House Symposium, attended by specialist from the NYC region and around the world, such as Joke Dockx, Director for Energy at the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment, and her presentation on how Brussels is using Passive House to transform itself.


We were able to expand this year to hire two new full-time positions. John Druelinger is now our Creative Director, focusing on communications, brand promotion, social media, and web development. Patrick Jaococo is the newest edition as Operations Director, and has begun overseeing logistics, product inventory, fulfillment, and shipping.

New products have arrived, including:

  • LAMILUX skylights - Some of the highest performing skylights in the world, the LAMILUX offerings include the PHI certified FE Energysave.
  • PHPP8 - The essential software package from PHI has been updated and includes a new SI / IP conversion macro.
  • EXTOSEAL ENCORS - Butyl rubber exterior window sill tape to create waterproof connections to and under frames

MENTO Plus installed on a roof in upstate NY
SOLITEX MENTO Plus installed on a roof in upstate NY by Ben Freed.

Here's to 2013 and an even better 2014.

Thanks for your involvement and support in 2013. We wouldn't be able continue without the engagement of fellow builders and designers dedicated to advancing healthy and resilient high performance building. We have plenty in store for 2014 - so stay tuned, and connect with us through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and our monthly newsletter.

And as always: keep it tight!

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