Very often, it is easy for all of us to look around at NESEA events — BuildingEnergy Conferences, Pro Tours and/or BuildingEnergy Bottom Line gatherings — and see how the mission of our organization is being lived out by the palpable sense of community that is created when we all share, collaborate and learn together.
But in the magic that results from this sense of community, a deeper magic has taken root. Through connections made at a shared booth at the 2017 BE Conference, four regional passive house organizations decided, over breakfast, that it was worth exploring how they might continue the conversation of collaboration among their organizations.
First step forward was an open invitation from passivhausMAINE for PHMA, CTPH and VTPH to gather at their annual meeting planned for June in Portland. Maybe it was the promise of summer and the allure of the location, but participation among all the passive house organizations was solid and included many NESEA faces, but also, a broader circle of professionals from the passive house community.
Emboldened by the turn-out and enthusiasm to explore what might be created by collaboration, an idea was hatched to consider co-sponsoring a conference on passive house for multifamily projects the following year. Questions regarding the locale, venue, and other aspects were all left in the air, ”TBD”, by continued dialogue.
As 2017 drew to a close, emails started to circulate and ask, in earnest, should we/can we do this, and if so, what would collaboration among our organizations look like? Someone came up with the notion that a collaborative effort made us worthy of an official title, “The New England Passive House Consortium”. If that doesn’t sound like an entity that can organize a conference, I don’t know what does! We exist in real life as we exist in language. We had our marching orders.
On April 6th of this year, the NEPH Consortium welcomed an at-capacity crowd of attendees and sponsors to the inaugural New England Passive House Multifamily Conference at the Alnoba Retreat Center in New Hampshire. The day was filled with dynamic presentations and conversation as attendees gave their rapt attention to a cadre of speakers from within the region and also from Philadelphia, Seattle, Maryland and Virginia. Enthusiasm, energy and engagement were in abundance.
I couldn't help but notice the diversity of the crowd. Not surprisingly, familiar NESEA faces were present serving in organizational roles, as presenters, sponsors, or attendees, but the circle had widened to include the community of multifamily developers and representatives from state financing and regional non-profit housing agencies, along with their network of peers and professionals from engineering, design, energy modeling/rating, and general/specialty contracting.
Looking back, there are many aspects of that conference to celebrate and one of my favorites is thinking about NESEA’s mission to advance the adoption of sustainable energy practices in the built environment. Witnessing that mission come to life among a broader and different circle of professionals was a thrill. And all of this unfolded as a result of the opportunity to share a booth and meet for breakfast at NESEA’s BE ’17 conference. The circle is complete and has grown larger at the same time.
What lays ahead for The NEPH Consortium? Ideas are already percolating for our second annual meeting to be held in Boston this summer.
NESEA advances sustainability practices in the built environment by cultivating a cross-disciplinary community where practitioners are encouraged to share, collaborate and learn.