May 15, 2014

Report from Germany (Part 2): Having Fun with Passive House

Tighthouse INTELLO I had great fun on a week-long trip to Germany for the International Passive House Conference – and a visit to our supplier Pro Clima.  On my way back I was pleasantly surprised to get a request from Martin Holladay to do a write-up on the event.   I happily took Martin up on it and 2,100 words later, my review is on – here.  But there’s more fun to tell in words and pictures.

Orient Studio SOLITEXThe nominated and award winning Passive House projects at the opening were all very impressive, beautiful and inspiring – and we were proud to have Pro Clima products under the hood of many of these high performance buildings.   Notably for us was Julie Torres Moskovitz’ Tighthouse and Bill Ryall’s Orient Artist Studio.   Julie utilized Pro Clima’s INTELLO intelligent membrane and TESCON and CONTEGA tapes as well as ROFLEX gaskets.   Bill used SOLITEX Mento 1000 WRB behind a salvaged wood rainscreen with TESCON tape and accessories.

Luder & Niall

It was great to see Pro Clima owner Lothar Moll, his right hand man, Jens Lüder Herms, and finally meet Niall Crosson (@ecologicalbuild) of Ireland’s own Ecological Building Systems.  Niall and Ecological have been an inspiration and huge help to us at 475 as they blazed the trail of English speaking Pro Clima materials.  Niall provides expert advice and training and it was great fun comparing notes with him and Lüder at the Passive House dinner Friday night in the Charlemagne Coronation Hall in Aachen.


Another of our suppliers, Lamilux was well represented at the conference by Technical Director Joachim Hessemer and staff, as well as their PHI certified inclined glass curtain wall PR60.   We already see good growth in demand for Lamilux roof skylights and roof hatches. We half-joked that as demand grows in the US it will be good to consider building a Lamilux factory in the US like other German companies have.  One day….

Warren Woods Ecology Field Station with black Pro Clima WRB

Of many informative presentations and beautiful buildings, the images at the end of Matthew O’Malia’s GO Logic presentation, of The Warren Woods Ecology Field Station were amazing.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find out later that our Pro Clima, all black, SOLITEX Fronta Quattro WRB and black TESCON Invis tape were used for the open joint rainscreens.

naphn - mark elton - gunter - tomasThe NAPHN dinner Saturday evening was also good fun.  I mention in the GBA post that there were 50 in attendance – and it included a cast of characters including Bronwyn Barry’s (@PassiveHouseBB) mother and sister, “Cornish independence leader” Mark Elton (@mark_elton), “Passive House is Sexy” Günter Lang, and not only Adam Cohen himself but Bertie Dixon, a Brit who can give Adam’s mustache a run for it – among many, many more.

adam cohen - door thresholdOn the tour Sunday, one of the great hunts was to figure out how they were making the commercial door entrances work.   Here is Adam Cohen going in for close inspection to what we believe is a Schuco assembly.

Selfie with Wolfgang Feist

After the iPHA Affiliates Council meeting and group photo Sunday evening it was good fun to grab a selfie with Wolfgang Feist and then unwind at the hotel bar with many PHI staff.

Heidelberg Passive House Office Building with Exterior Shading

On Monday I headed south to Schwetzingen, home of Pro Clima and the immense Schwetzingen Palace gardens.  Monday evening was a treat as Lüder and I visited nearby historic Heidelberg – that somehow missed being destroyed by WWII bombing – for asparagus, schnitzel and pils, but also an equally immense, new, all Passive House district.  The district sits just before the historic center and the new fire station, its new breathtaking gateway.  Building after building, offices, schools, apartment buildings, and yes the fire station – all Passive House.  It was awesome.

Heidelberg Passive House School

Heidelberg Fire Station

Thomas shows how it's done.

Tuesday, my last full day, I visited Pro Clima HQ and met with Lothar and Lüder again.  Seeing new products was great fun, planning a west coast tour to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland and San Francisco for this coming October was interesting (West Coast, stay tuned for announcements!).  It was lovely meeting so many dedicated staff that we know just by email and phone; but the highlight was attending a workshop training by Thomas Gärtner, the enigmatic man with the loop earning who appears in all the Pro Clima instructional literature.  He was the Zen Master – peeling, cutting, fitting, taping – showing seamless technique while telling many funny stories.  Or they appeared funny as others were smiling…it was all in German and sadly, I don’t speak a stitch of German.  Yet like ballet, it was all in the movement.

And so it goes – we’re having fun with Passive House and low-energy building.

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