BuildingEnergy Boston 2021 Evaluations

Thank you for joining us at BuildingEnergy Boston 2021.  Please help us continue to improve this event:

  1. Evaluate the entire conference here.
  2. Evaluate the sessions you attended below.

NESEA staff will share your feedback with next year’s conference planning committee to guide the design and content of BuildingEnergy Boston 2022. Questions? Contact Ben Sachs-Hamilton, Conference Manager, at bsachs-hamilton@nesea.org.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 10:30am
Session Title Time Speakers
Light + Justice

Light + Justice

We begin with this simple premise: everyone deserves quality light (and dark). 
We continue with this reality: whether your home, workplace and neighborhood are well lighted depends on your social, economic, and environmental status.
 
Keynote speakers Edward Bartholomew and Mark Loeffler will lead us to the next evolution of sustainable lighting design viewed through the lens of environmental justice. They’ll describe historical precedents and current realities, share case studies of how lighting reinforces power and status, and reveal how quality... Full Description

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10:30 am to 11:30 am
Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 8:00am
Session Title Time Speakers
Achieving Performance Goals: Modular New vs. Retrofit Existing

Achieving Performance Goals: Modular New vs. Retrofit Existing

Two very different projects – Oak Bluffs Town Hall and The Graphic Lofts – share a common goal to create a passive-house-inspired high-performance building. One building utilizes conventional construction techniques, the other building employs off-site construction strategies. These case studies will review decisions made and lessons learned following each project’s approach. The speakers will compare and contrast the challenges and benefits of on- and off-site construction to realize this common goal. We will discuss early design decisions, performance strategies, and construction details... Full Description

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8:00 am to 9:00 am
Comparing the Operating Performance of High Performing Public Buildings to their Design

Comparing the Operating Performance of High Performing Public Buildings to their Design

High performing buildings consume considerably less energy and water than conventional buildings. Through energy modeling and water use projections, design teams have been able to calculate the amount expected to be saved during the design phase. However, not much has been done to circle back and compare these projections to actual performance. This pilot study compares actual operating results to predicted in 21 public buildings in Massachusetts to learn how accurate these projections are. The study also interviewed Town staff including facility managers to learn about problems faced and... Full Description

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8:00 am to 9:00 am
Net Zero Single Family Remodel: Whys & Woes

Net Zero Single Family Remodel: Whys & Woes

This session details the design and construction challenges inherent in a net zero energy remodel and addition to a modest single family residence in Arlington, Massachusetts, completed in winter 2021. The project team sought practical, low cost, and reproducible solutions to meet project goals of net zero energy, minimizing embodied carbon, and electrification. We aspire to broaden the toolset of owners, designers, and builders by sharing our approaches to permit approval, structural design, building envelope, window specification and installation, and HVAC. Local zoning regulations and a... Full Description

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8:00 am to 9:00 am
Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 9:30am
Session Title Time Speakers
Best Practices: Comparing Two Adjacent Multifamily Passive Houses

Best Practices: Comparing Two Adjacent Multifamily Passive Houses

Beach Green Dunes I and Beach Green Dunes II are two of the largest multifamily Passive Houses in the country. They are adjacent to each other in the Rockaways in NY (in the flood zone) and were completed two years apart. Although they look almost identical, they are very different under the hood. Each has a different structure, envelope (ICF vs Block), ventilation strategy (Unitized vs Centralized), and heating and cooling system (VRF vs. ground source heat pumps) along with several other differences due to changes in city regulations and varying site conditions. Mark Ginsberg (Architect... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Public Health & the Built Environment: Putting Research into Action

Public Health & the Built Environment: Putting Research into Action

What factors contribute to optimizing human health both indoors and outdoors within the built environment? Creating equitable and healthy communities is a product of multi-level interventions in policy, places, and people. This panel discussion will feature Steven Winter’s Sustainability Director & LEED/WELL/EGC expert highlighting public health research implementation into project designs throughout the building sector.  With “boots on the ground” experience, she will present key strategies for protecting and promoting health in a socially equitable and cost-effective manner.... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Understanding Boston's Proposed Performance Standard

Understanding Boston's Proposed Performance Standard

Boston’s proposed building emissions performance standard would set carbon emissions targets for existing large buildings that decrease over time. The targets align with the City’s 2030 goal of a 50% reduction in emissions from 2005 and its 2050 goal of net zero emissions. Participants will learn about the policy's foundation in equity and transparency; how the City has worked closely with the community, stakeholders, and experts throughout an iterative design process; lessons learned from other cities with similar policies; and what the performance standard would mean for building owners... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Why Do Startups Innovate Better than Design Firms & What Can We Learn from Them?

Why Do Startups Innovate Better than Design Firms & What Can We Learn from Them?

Consider the qualities of startup culture: Continuous improvement, learning from our work. Valuing staff, treating them as our prime asset. Agile development with fast iterations and innovations. Reliance on specifications that are central to workflow. Why don’t typical firms – yours? – have these qualities? And what would happen if they did? Owners are demanding increasingly high performance and firms won’t be competitive if they can’t pivot and transform and adopt the habits and disciplines of startup culture. This session helps participants translate key behaviors into practical... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 11:30am
Session Title Time Speakers
Electrifying Hard-to-Heat Buildings

Electrifying Hard-to-Heat Buildings

While there are established and feasible means to electrify space heating for many low heat load buildings like residential buildings, offices, and retail stores, all-electric solutions for high heat load buildings such as laboratories, research and development buildings, and hospitals continue to present challenges. Emerging products and strategies in the air-to-water heat pump, heat recovery and exhaust-source heat pump market are creating viable solutions to meet the majority of the annual sensible heating demand with efficient electrification. Combined with energy efficient building... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Tracking the Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Your Energy Efficiency Measures: New Tools & Lessons Learned for Designers & Contractors

Tracking the Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Your Energy Efficiency Measures: New Tools & Lessons Learned for Designers & Contractors

This session will share insights from three research projects focused on greenhouse gas impacts of efficiency-related measures. How does the choice of insulation materials in new construction affect the building’s carbon footprint? What do five years of weatherization data tell us about GHG impacts of insulating existing buildings? What is the lifecycle carbon impact of using heat pumps to offset fossil fuel boiler heat when considering the electric grid, embodied carbon of new heat pumps, and heat pump fugitive emissions from refrigerant leaks? 

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Virtual Power Plants: The Future of Distributed Energy Storage

Virtual Power Plants: The Future of Distributed Energy Storage

The virtual power plant - aggregated, behind-the-meter solar, energy storage, and building loads dispatched in concert to meet grid needs - is a new model that has been pioneered in New England and is now being adopted by forward-looking utilities and policymakers across the country. This session will explain why the virtual power plant is the future of energy storage, how states can create virtual power plants using existing programs and budgets, and why this is an important new paradigm that will benefit customers and communities. The virtual power plant model solves numerous problems,... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Why Go Deep? Retrofit Lessons from Low-Income Multifamily Projects

Why Go Deep? Retrofit Lessons from Low-Income Multifamily Projects

Many cities in New England and beyond have carbon neutrality goals and are actively addressing new construction to hit the goals. What about all the existing buildings? How will those be addressed to reduce energy and carbon? What creative enclosure approaches can be used to achieve these goals? Preservation of Affordable Housing has new construction projects in design to PHIUS standard. POAH also has rehab projects that never hit a passive house standard but go as deep as possible. Through review of existing projects and building data, this session will explore what we have done, what we... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 1:30pm
Session Title Time Speakers
Light + Justice in Practice

Light + Justice in Practice

Join the presenters of BuildingEnergy Boston 2021’s keynote, Light + Justice, for a roundtable discussion. During this live session, the presenters will answer audience questions and provide practical examples of how to apply the concepts introduced in the keynote into our own work. We recommend attending or viewing the keynote beforehand. All are welcome, but space may be limited.

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1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Mass Timber Construction in the Northeast

Mass Timber Construction in the Northeast

The climate benefits of using timber are becoming better understood by owners committed to sustainability goals, but the procurement and implementation process still present challenges. Hear from practitioners from three newly constructed Mass Timber projects: the Dept. of Unemployment Assistance building in Brockton, MA; a 7-story Passive House multifamily building at 11 E. Lenox, Boston; and the Bristol County Agricultural High School. Hear how with preparation, documentation, and involvement from all members of the construction team, a design team can lay the groundwork for a successful... Full Description

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Project Management from Afar

Project Management from Afar

Project management from a remote location is common to some and unfamiliar to others. For those previously unfamiliar, Covid-19 has accelerated the industry’s transformation towards remote management becoming the norm. For those with experience, there is always room for improvement to both avoid pitfalls and maximize the success of the project. As our building envelopes get tighter and we aim to reduce our embodied and operational carbon footprints, our documentation, communication, and management need to keep pace to reduce risk, ensure happy clients, and enjoy the process.
... Full Description

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
The Next Frontier: Material Transparency Across Disciplines

The Next Frontier: Material Transparency Across Disciplines

Transparency is the foundation for making informed decisions about the products we specify. The AEC industry is familiar with sustainability goals related to energy efficiency, but holistic discussions related to material goals across the entire team are still rare. Large strides have been made in interior product disclosure, but much less so for building envelope, MEP  and lighting systems. Without transparency our ability to quantitatively convey the magnitude of decisions made across the project team, and track progress as the design progresses, is limited. This panel will highlight the... Full Description

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 3:30pm
Session Title Time Speakers
Lessons Learned from MassCEC's Triple Decker Challenge

Lessons Learned from MassCEC's Triple Decker Challenge

Improving the efficiency of existing buildings and eliminating fossil fuel usage are vital steps to meeting states' goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout New England. Focusing on finding scalable and replicable models for building typologies, such as triple deckers, will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increase tenant comfort and reduce energy bills. This session focuses on the best ideas and lessons learned from MassCEC’s Triple Decker Design Challenge. What variations were there in proposals for roofs, basements, exterior insulation, air infiltration... Full Description

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Multifamily Humidity Control Problems: Muggy Mayhem

Multifamily Humidity Control Problems: Muggy Mayhem

Multifamily buildings with good insulation, great windows, and decent ventilation systems – what's not to like? Unfortunately, over the past five years, we have received calls from multifamily building owners who are battling persistent summertime humidity problems. Comfort complaints, sweating ductwork, waterlogged drywall, and mold on furnishings, clothing, registers . . . you name it. We will discuss how we went about these investigations and the tools we used to diagnose these issues. When investigating these problems, unfortunately, there was no ‘magic bullet’ or single cause that we... Full Description

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Schools of Thought

Schools of Thought

At Bristol County Agricultural High School, the campus is the classroom. The site is an arboretum; buildings are structured with timber, encouraging conversations of carbon and land use. Composting toilets manage human waste using no potable water and promote conversations about soil health. Rainwater is harvested for irrigation and becomes part of an ongoing conversation about water use. These strategies prompt questions about resources and waste, energy, and water use and quality. This project exhibits the shared respect between designers and teachers leading to a functional and truly ... Full Description

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Whose Role Is It Anyway? Understanding the Requirement of Diversity in the New Green Frontier

Whose Role Is It Anyway? Understanding the Requirement of Diversity in the New Green Frontier

We recognize the need to diversify the sustainability industry, but how do we change the mostly white mostly male status quo? How do we create pathways to include underrepresented populations at the table? This session features women of color who will share strategies and opportunities for advancing racial equity in companies and organizations.

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 8:00am
Session Title Time Speakers
Case Study of a Low-Energy Multifamily Development: A Practical Discussion of Challenges & Success at The Flow Chelsea in NYC

Case Study of a Low-Energy Multifamily Development: A Practical Discussion of Challenges & Success at The Flow Chelsea in NYC

This session features an in-depth review of an award-winning multi-family low energy (Passive House) building in New York City.  We will review the technical aspects of the building, from the components to the layout and finishes with the architect, discuss motivating factors and financial decisions with the developer, and explore the challenges, solutions and best in class techniques for executing a successful project.

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8:00 am to 9:00 am
HFC Refrigerants in Heat Pumps: Regulatory Update & Emissions Analysis

HFC Refrigerants in Heat Pumps: Regulatory Update & Emissions Analysis

SPONSORED BY DXS NEW ENGLAND

The need to electrify our built environment by integrating Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) and Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems is clear. Most ASHPs and VRF systems in the US use R-410A, a well-known class A1 HFC refrigerant. Previous NESEA sessions by JS Rancourt have discussed HFC refrigerants, including at Building Energy Boston 2020 (click here to view this presentation, and to gain an understanding of the chemistry, safety, codes and... Full Description

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8:00 am to 9:00 am
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 9:30am
Session Title Time Speakers
Integrating Sustainability into Practice

Integrating Sustainability into Practice

The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a decade until major carbon emission goals, and the first year of the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. There is no better time to take stock of your firm's sustainable design practice, whether you have been doing this for decades or just starting out. The design community is truly in this together and sharing is critical. This session will provide lessons learned from small, medium, and large size Boston firms on how to integrate sustainable design holistically and successfully into practice. Topics to be explored are firm... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Low-Carbon Concrete & Steel Structures

Low-Carbon Concrete & Steel Structures

The carbon emissions associated with the production of concrete and steel are significant contributors to the climate crisis, but these materials will remain over the next decade when much of the greatest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must be made to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Structural engineers can directly influence the emissions related to these materials on their projects through design and procurement optimization and best-practices. Often, however, the most effective solutions to reduce the carbon “embodied” in these products are not always obvious.   ... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Piloting, Scaling & Committing to Healthier Materials

Piloting, Scaling & Committing to Healthier Materials

When it comes to toxic chemicals, there is an urgent need for market transformation. Occupants, tradespeople, and fence line communities are being contaminated by the chemical manufacturing industry, which raises concerns about environmental racism and injustice. We can support these communities by reducing and eliminating classes of chemicals from our buildings. 
 
This session presents four entities who have stepped up to the challenge: MIT, Colby College, Shepley Bulfinch, and Thornton Tomasetti. Panelists will share their stories of what led them to examine... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
The Glue That Binds PrePHab: How Designers & Builders SIMMplify Passive House

The Glue That Binds PrePHab: How Designers & Builders SIMMplify Passive House

The typical picture of prefabrication – a panel being positioned by crane – belies the tremendous amount of required planning and interdisciplinary coordination. Single Integrated Manufacturing Modeling (SIMM) and off-site prefabrication work together as the glue that binds this collaboration.
 
Where many educational programs focus on the rapid installation and production benefits of prefabrication, this session emphasizes the coordinated up-front approach. This innovative approach capitalizes on production methods to support collaboration and clash detection while... Full Description

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9:30 am to 11:00 am
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 11:30am
Session Title Time Speakers
Decarbonization of Domestic Water Heating in Multifamily Buildings

Decarbonization of Domestic Water Heating in Multifamily Buildings

Domestic hot water doesn’t get the attention it deserves, so this session will be talking about nothing but it! Decarbonizing DHW in multifamily settings is full of challenges, especially in a heating-dominated cold climate. We will be discussing decarbonization strategies from new construction and existing buildings, central and decentralized systems, and touching on adjacent topics like loads and futureproofing. The presenters will share their perspectives on the pros and cons of different DHW product types and system architectures, as illustrated by real-world case studies highlighting... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Leaving the Mesozoic Behind: From Fossil Fuels to the Future via Carbon-Neutral Buildings

Leaving the Mesozoic Behind: From Fossil Fuels to the Future via Carbon-Neutral Buildings

New York State’s carbon-neutral policies and on-the-ground programs are the leading edge in the Northeast and provide a model for all communities. Come be informed and inspired by NYSERDA’s upcoming Carbon Neutral Buildings Roadmap. As part of Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal for New York, NYSERDA has been spearheading the development of an overarching framework for decarbonizing New York’s buildings by 2050. This presentation will outline the policies and programmatic areas that will achieve radical reduction in the carbon emissions of buildings. Solutions include envelope and other energy... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Modular vs. Stick-built: A Side-by-Side Comparison with Habitat for Humanity

Modular vs. Stick-built: A Side-by-Side Comparison with Habitat for Humanity

Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, Simple City Studio, and VEIC present PV Habitat’s award-winning experiment in affordable net-zero housing. Using data from a recent build, PV Habitat compares build time, cost, and energy efficiency between modular and stick-built construction, focusing on the trade-offs between affordability and energy efficiency, and examining where design can simplify or complicate a build. At the cutting edge of affordable housing, these recent builds expand on PV Habitat’s efforts to build small, durable, and affordable homes, and demonstrate that a home does not... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Today's Acceptable Ventilation is Unacceptable

Today's Acceptable Ventilation is Unacceptable

Current ventilation standards are based on odor instead of health. One cannot smell healthy air. Ventilation standards disfavor air quality in smaller residences and multi-family dwellings while excessively ventilating larger homes. Ventilation impacts our health, cognition, sleep, and disease transmission. This session provides background on today's ventilation standards and recommendations for creating healthy indoor environments. The Covid Safe Space IAQ calculator for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in buildings is introduced. Examples show reduction of infection probability and... Full Description

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11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 1:30pm
Session Title Time Speakers
Historic Buildings & Climate Change Mitigation: Case Study of a Low-Carbon Renovation

Historic Buildings & Climate Change Mitigation: Case Study of a Low-Carbon Renovation

Retrofitting vacant and underutilized historic buildings to PHIUS standards leverages an existing building’s embodied carbon, which combined with low carbon and carbon storing materials, can transform our historic buildings into carbon sinks. With careful consideration, the Federal Historic Tax Credit program can provide an additional source of funding for these ambitious Passive House projects. Currently under construction, Moran Square is one of the first PHIUS Historic Tax Credit projects in the US. The site includes a historic firehouse, a vacant lot, and historic three-story building... Full Description

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Leveraging Diversity to Meet the Climate Challenge

Leveraging Diversity to Meet the Climate Challenge

We cannot achieve the Green Building targets for reducing carbon emissions with the current workforce. We need to rapidly increase the number of individuals in green building fields - designers, green building professionals, engineers, general contractors, envelope consultants, as well as qualified electricians, plumbers, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) tradespeople who can install heat pumps and solar systems. More diverse employees and more minority, women, and disadvantaged owned companies to hire, collaborate with, and refer will place businesses in the best... Full Description

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Proving Your Worth: Energy Loan Performance Monitoring, Verification & Marketing

Proving Your Worth: Energy Loan Performance Monitoring, Verification & Marketing

Would you like to attract or deploy more funding for building energy improvements? Do gatekeepers scoff at your requests and ask for “more data”? What if your data could clearly show the value unlocked by energy upgrades? Take an in-depth, hands-on look at how two mission driven lenders, the Connecticut Green Bank, a quasi-public state agency, and Capital for Change, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), developed performance monitoring reports for a set of energy loans to multifamily properties. The data demonstrate how smart energy improvements result in significant... Full Description

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Sheridan Small Homes: Affordable Passive Houses for In-Fill Development

Sheridan Small Homes: Affordable Passive Houses for In-Fill Development

Sheridan Small Homes is a project that originated in the classroom at the Rhode Island School of Design. The two passive house prototype student designs were created as a solution to increase affordable housing and make use of 200 undersized vacant lots in Providence, RI. The homes were funded through a combination of energy grants and incentive programs and were built by an apprentice training program that provides valuable work experience and career opportunities for low-income diverse community members.

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1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Friday, May 7, 2021 - 3:30pm
Session Title Time Speakers
Electrification + Affordable Housing: What You Need to Know

Electrification + Affordable Housing: What You Need to Know

To achieve our 2050 climate goals we must go all-electric. But how do we get there? For new construction, all-electric solutions are increasingly viable. However, all-electric solutions for existing buildings are considerably more challenging. The upfront cost to upgrade old buildings to a level that ensures efficient (and economical) performance can be prohibitive. Worse still, going all-electric without sufficiently improving envelopes can result in high operational costs for both owners and residents, jeopardizing our ability to provide and preserve truly affordable high-quality housing... Full Description

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Single Family Retrofit to Passive House EnerPHit Standards

Single Family Retrofit to Passive House EnerPHit Standards

When an experienced builder does a whole-house upgrade of their own home, you know it’s going to be done right. When that builder is Jesper Kruse, owner of Maine Passive House, you know remarkable energy efficiency will be the outcome. And when that house is the one Kruse himself built 20 years ago - the first house he ever built - well, you know it’s going to be an especially interesting adventure in single family retrofits. Kruse will explain why he decided to undertake this project. He’ll share step-by-step how he upgraded the envelope, from foundation to roof, and why he chose the new... Full Description

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
The Proof is in the Project: Cost & Performance of Built Passive Multifamily

The Proof is in the Project: Cost & Performance of Built Passive Multifamily

With many states incentivizing housing built to the Passive standard, everyone wants to know: are Passive-certified multifamily buildings really achieving better energy performance? The answer is yes. With many built multi-family passive projects throughout the Northeast, there are now multiple occupied projects where we can look at actual energy performance data, sometimes over multiple years. Using Passive project data from built projects in MA and PA, we will compare post-occupancy performance and cost to similar above-code and code built projects. We will also share takeaways gleaned... Full Description

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3:30 pm to 4:30 pm