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Artisans Group News - October, 2017 - Part 1

October Artisans Group News

Wow, what a busy past month!  

We rolled out our new website (thank you, efelle!), participated in the Olympia Master Builders’ 2017 Tour of Homes, and attended two national Passive House Conferences!  We also got much closer to completing two new Pacific Northwest custom homes, we began designing several more, and we keep pushing forward through the permitting process that is Seattle (go Olympia Coffee, go!).  

On top of all of that, we were honored to receive several major awards.

Because of the sheer amount of news on our end, we’re going to provide this month’s installment in two check back again next week for more!  On that note, here’s a quick recap of some of the most recent happenings in Artisans Group land.

Passive House Conferences

Passive House is a building science aimed at increasing indoor air quality, whole building health for the people inside and simultaneously decrease energy consumption through better building practices.  It involves a large network of people in the building community spread throughout the world.  As a building science our members share knowledge and experience instead of keeping secrets, because sharing is the most expedient way to keep improving buildings.

We meet, share, celebrate successes, learn from failures, and shine a light on areas of improvement.  These Conferences are a heady atmosphere of architects, engineers, craftspeople, and people from all corners of the building sciences, and they are an amazing opportunity to learn from each other so that we can all continue to build a better future.  

PHIUS’s 12th Annual Passive House Conference

The Passive House Institute U.S. held it’s annual Conference this year in our own backyard:  Seattle, Washington!

Opening with an optimistic look at the growth of Passive House and renewable energy generation by Zach Semke, the tone of this conference was decidedly excited - in a positive way!  From the development of the Bullitt Center in Seattle, to the continued increase in Passive House construction and therefore the greater ease of creating truly net-positive buildings - there is a lot to be excited about, and we’re happy to be a big part of it.

As part of the weekend of learning, our very own Tessa Smith gave a packed-house presentation with Evan Anderson, of Zola Windows.  Speaking about some challenges and successful strategies with windows in Passive House design and construction, Tessa broke down classic pitfalls of windows (overheating & cost) and provided insight with real world examples of how Artisans Group addresses these issues for our clients.  Suffice it to say, we love Zola’s triple paned windows in the Pacific Northwest, and our clients love their floor-to-ceiling views.    

Some thematic takeaways from this years Conference for those of you who like to stay on top of trends:

  • Indoor Air Quality (I.A.Q.)

As more and more data comes in about the health hazards of low quality indoor air, the benefit of Passive House and its fresh filtered ventilation system become more and more apparent.  We’ll write more about this soon, so keep an eye on our blog for updates about this incredibly important topic.

  • Net-Zero & Net-Positive

No doubt you’ve heard about buildings that have a zero energy footprint on the grid (sometimes even producing more than they use).  Typically achieved through onsite power generation, Passive House has officially been discovered by people interested in this level of energy freedom, because Passive House is the easiest and most cost effective way to minimize a building’s energy use.

Thank you PHIUS for putting on such an amazing Conference, thank you Seattle for being such a great host city, and a giant thank you to everyone involved - your enthusiasm and curiosity for how to create the best damn buildings in the world is completely invigorating.  

NAPHN’s 17th Annual Passive House Conference

The North American Passive House Network is a legal Cooperative that supports and promotes regional Passive House work throughout our Continent.  This year’s Conference, held in Oakland, California, concentrated on the intersection of Passive House and renewables.  

As mentioned above, decreasing the amount of energy needed for a building is the single most cost effective step toward making a building energy self-reliant.  By bringing our industry peers together, NAPHN helps us all see the forest for the trees as we move to a more dynamic energy grid that allows us to have a much more resilient and adaptive response to any sort of problem (storm, windlessness, cloudy days, desire for clean air, etc.).

Our tireless architect, Tessa Smith, presented a pre-Conference course on designing a Passive House.  As part of our desire to see better and healthier buildings, we want her experience designing and overseeing the construction of over a dozen homes built to the Passive House standard throughout the Pacific Northwest to help others build these amazing homes.  One step at a time; we’re in it for the long term - this revolution in designing and building a better tomorrow, today.


In our next installment of Artisans Group News, we’ll share some recent progress on Madison House (a Passive House built for an active urban lifestyle), as well as our progress on Tolmie House (a well insulated modern home with some Eastern accents).  We’ll also share some exciting news about some awards, including a national Passive House award!

Until then, have a great week, and a safe Halloween!