The Power of One

I was at the New York Passive House Conference last week and learned that New York has 807,000 buildings in the city and in order to hit low carbon emission goals by 2030 they need to retrofit those buildings at the rate of 200 buildings per day. This staggering number brings pause to even the greatest optimists. However, it was amazing to see how quickly Passive House is being adopted and how much progress is being made. 
There was a presentation about New York and the first Passive House skyscraper in the US, as well as another great presentation by Sebastian Morena-Vacca talking about the adoption of Passive House as part of the Brussels building code. Perhaps Pittsburgh could be the first US city to adopt the Passive House criteria as part of our building code. Wouldn't that be exciting! 

Chris Benedict was given a much-deserved award recognizing her pioneering work in the field. Here is a link to a recent New York Times article representing some of her work. 

The best part of the day for me was the presentation by Tim McDonald. Tim, co-founder of Onion Flats and professor at Temple University, spoke about the stakeholder meeting last summer at PHFA where stakeholders from the two largest cities in the state came together to ask PHFA to give extra points to have Passive House as part of the desired building criteria. Thoughtful Balance was part of the discussion, along with developers from both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, both city's URA's, Carnegie-Mellon University, Temple University, and other interested parties. To all of our surprise, PHFA said yes that day and we have already seen in Pennsylvania rapid market transformation in Pennsylvania. 

The 2015 PHFA statistics are as follows:

85 Multi-Family project applications submitted
39 Projects were awarded
38% applied as Passive House
7 Passive House projects awarded funding
422 new Passive House - Net Zero capable units 
will be coming on line in PA 
The cost of these projects was less than 2% greater than the average project.

I must say that I admired Tim's bold vision... but it didn't stop there. Tim has been on sabbatical from Temple, and with his time he has dedicated his efforts to contacting every agency that allocates tax credits for affordable housing and is encouraging them to follow PHFA's lead. Emboldened and wanting to seize the momentum by PHFA, he has already contacted 35 of the 50 states. The map from his presentation shows the entire top of the country filled in! The possibility of the rapid spread of Passive House is becoming a reality because of one man's actions. It was truly inspiring....the power of one man to so change the course of events!