Passiv Haus, Dresden, Day 1

The first day of the PassivHaus conference in Dresden showed some clear similarities in the Home Performance Industry in Europe and America as well as some huge differences.  P1000864


1. The industry on both continents is developing with a strong reliance on subsidies, either government grants or tax credits, or utility rebates.    Testing and certification is essential to this approach and is a backbone of both industries.

2.  The early adopters of deep energy retrofits are usually very expensive.  One home that was showcased today had a $574,000 Euro price tag for the retrofit.    This obviously takes significant subsidy or a “true believer” with plenty of money to act on their beliefs about peak oil, climate change or stewardship of the planet.  … and there are more and more of those folks.    This expensive retrofit was a combination of a government grant and a true believer with money to spend.P1000878

3.  Later,  Energy Efficient building gets systemized and the craftsmen learn the craft, and the building gets a lot cheaper.   A factory built wood Passive House from Norway was demonstrated.   

4.  Occupant behavior is essential to the success of a Home Performance project.   Occupant education and buy in has as much impact on performance as the quality of the work.   This is especially true in the multi family projects that were demonstrated.

5.  Both continents make good use of new building technologies such as Structural Insulating Panels and Concrete Insulated Forms.   Both of these were demonstrated at both conferences I’ve attended recently.   (The best conference on Home Performance in the US is Affordable Comfort, which was last month in Austin)


1.  Europeans really do windows and doors right.    While Americans argue over whether windows should be dual or triple pane, the Eropeans assume all windows have three panes.   Vinyl isn’t hardly used.  It’s all wood or fiberglass.   Doors are about 3.5 inches thick and close like a bank vault.  We dont even have doors like that in the US.  (at least that I’ve seen)

P10008892.  Europeans are really serious about ventilation.    More like Canadians.   I saw more ERV-HRV’s and “Magic Boxes”  (all in one, vent and heat) than I had ever seen in my life.  

3.  Europe is way ahead of the US on using rigid foam.   They have in all configurations with the fittings & flashings to make it last 100 years.

In sum, there are more similarities than differences.   The main difference is that Europe is ahead of America on almost all of the technology.   I’ll write more on that after the conference.  

It was good to see several California friends and a few GreenEarthEquities Planetsavers here at the conference.  But it’s also good to start up a conversation with a German or a Bulgarian.    This of course depends on their English, but most attendees have at least some English.   Some dont, but they are still nice.   One German couldn’t speak to me but he gave me a big pretzel and a smile.   There is  a camaradarie among Energy Geeks from all continents.   It is kind of like a family and kind of like a religeon.   Like in religeon and family, you do things for long term gain, rather than just short term “best for me right now” thinking.    Everyone is willing to share and everyone seems happy with other’s success.   It’s a good place to be.

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  1. Kelsay

    Good blog Dave, good intro analysis, expand it even further. Any more pictures of exhibits? keep it up.


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