U.S. President Trump has only been in office a short while, but already his proclamation that human-caused climate change is a “hoax” has shifted the rhetoric in Washington from climate change mitigation to climate change denial. Myron Ebell, in charge of the EPA transition team, is on record as saying that greenhouse gas pollution could even be beneficial.
Whatever your beliefs the fact is that if, or perhaps when, Trump abandons COP21 we risk seeing global warming on an unprecedented scale as emerging nations such as India also cease to minimize their carbon footprints. Climate change, for whatever reason, is going to happen.
So, What Can We Do About Climate Change?
The technology exists to reduce our carbon footprint dramatically – Passive House Design. A building built, or converted, in line with Passive House principles uses little to no extra energy to maintain a comfortable environment for the occupants. Clearly, this means a reduction in energy bills which is good for the owner’s pockets and the environment.
How Can Passive House Help?
A fundamental tenet of Passive House design is establishing a continuous insulation layer to eliminate or reduce thermal bridging so that energy wastage cannot occur. Continuous insulation is built into the walls of a new build but can easily be retro-fitted to existing property, even old Brownstones. To further minimize energy loss high-specification windows and doors are fitted, and the building is made air-tight.
Through a heat and moisture recovery system, air enters and leaves the building. In this manner, when it is cold outside, the heat and moisture in the stale air are used to warm and moisten the incoming cold air, again minimizing energy wastage. In summer, the system removes excess warmth and moisture from the incoming air thus diminishing the need for air conditioning.
By careful consideration of how sunlight enters the house the sun’s energy can be directly tapped to heat the building – even on the coldest days of winter – and shading avoids overheating in the summer.
Adding geothermal heating or solar panels to the roof of the Passive House structure reduces the need to buy energy from the grid. As an example, in November 2010, the “Passive House in the Woods” (Hudson, Wis.), used only $35 of electricity from the grid.
Less Energy – Cleaner Energy
One of the disadvantages of cleaner sources of energy such as solar is that they can’t deal with peaks and dips in energy use. If the sun is out, your solar panels will be producing. If it’s windy, your wind turbines will turn. Passive House is ideally suited to working with clean energy sources precisely because it’s energy demand is much flatter than a conventional house.
Doing Our Bit
Here at Brace, we recognize that a single Passive House isn’t going to stop climate change. But if every new build were a Passive House building and every renovation completed to Passive House standards, it would translate into a vastly reduced carbon footprint. And that means a cleaner, healthier environment for everyone.