Andre Harrmann celebrates Earth Day by becoming a PHI-accredited building Certifier and presenting at 20th international Passive House conference

Andre Harrmann traveled to Germany to add yet another accreditation to his long list of accomplishments by becoming a Passivhaus Institut-accredited building Certifier.  Andre has been consulting on successful Passive House projects for a number of years, but he wanted to obtain Certifier status as early as 2014.  Plans to attend the 6-day training in 2015 were shelved because he was so busy working on Passive House projects and his family's project- Andre and Barbara's first baby, Clara.  

With this recognition Andre is able to not only continue his very active Passive House consulting business, but also bring his skills to bear in certification.

 Andre by PHI's wall of international plaques--which he may now award.

Andre by PHI's wall of international plaques--which he may now award.

Andre's accreditation comes just in time as CertiPHIers Cooperative is swamped with work.  

While in Germany for the Certifier training, Andre also presented at the 20th international Passive House conference, back again where it all started 25 years earlier: Darmstadt, Germany.  

 Andre presenting a Passive House in Vancouver, BC on which he is the CPHC

Andre presenting a Passive House in Vancouver, BC on which he is the CPHC

For Andre, traveling to Germany is easy since he speaks German like the native he is.  Although Andre has made his home in British Columbia, Canada for the past 8 years, he grew up outside Leipzig.  With his engineering training and German fluency, Andre brings an invaluable combination of skills to access Passive House research which has not yet been translated into English.  Already, Andre has assisted the Passive House Institute, for example, in preparation of the PHPP v9 Manual as well as in technical aspects of PHPP v9.

 Andre comparing results from modeling with PHPP v9 and PHPP v8

Andre comparing results from modeling with PHPP v9 and PHPP v8

Andre Harrmann, Welcome to our Team!

Andre Harrmann recently started assisting CertiPHIers with building certification services. We’re thrilled he’s joined.

We got to know Andre better during our visit to Leipzig this spring attending the 19th International Passive House Conference right after we opened CertiPHIers for business. 

I was a bit nervous traveling to a large, foreign city, and needed help finding a hostel that was conveniently close to both the train station and the Conference center.  Asking around, I got a response from Andre. 

He sent an incredibly helpful map of Leipzig, complete with two areas of the city circled in blue and marked “party zones.”  Andre’s a native of Germany and grew up just outside Leipzig, and if you are ever in Leipzig, count on Andre for up-to-date advice on night life.



Andre single-handedly organized the successful NAPHN dinner party for 75 people in Leipzig, but his main party this spring was celebrating the birth of his beautiful Clara.  She got to visit Leipzig and meet lots of adoring relatives.  And of course she was one of the highlights of the NAPHN dinner as well.



When he’s not partying (I mean playing) with Clara, Andre is a project manager at the University of British Columbia where he facilitates building repairs and construction projects to achieve UBC’s energy conservation targets.  He relies on both engineering and architecture expertise acquired from both German and U.S. universities where he earned graduate degrees in civil engineering, building physics and heritage architecture. But that's not all .  .   .    .



In addition, Andre has his own very active Passive House Consulting business, Harrmann Consulting.  He is actively consulting on a variety of Passive Houses.  And the Bedford Road House project in Nelson that he worked on with Lukas Armstrong turned out so well that they presented the project at the recent NAPHN 15 Conference.  The presentation is now posted on the NAPHN site.  And you can learn more about the project at Andre's site:

Since 2012, Andre has provided PH training, PHPP modeling services and support with certification. Although he hoped to complete the PHI’s Certifier training this spring, he’s had to delay it until next spring in Darmstadt.  However, in the meantime, he's not resting on his laurels.


An admitted perfectionist, Andre is committed to excellent tools for Passive House professionals and continuous quality improvement in existing tools.  Already, he offers two helpful tools via: a Compendium of Passive House formulas with metric and IP units and a SI-Imperial converter tool.  And he has an excellent list of resources in his Library   

The Passive House movement doesn’t grow without organizations to support it.  Although building these organizations is hard work with little thanks, they are as vitally important as every Passive House which is designed and constructed.  Without them, we have no conferences, trade shows, educational events, newsletters, and community voice.  Andre has been an active leader within local and international Passive House organizations, serving on both the board of directors of CanPHI West and the North American Passive House Network.

Building Carbon Zero – Palo Alto – November 13 & 14

Passive House California builds on its successful Carbon Zero series of collaborations with local governments.   This year with Palo Alto hosting the Building Carbon Zero conference on the International Passive House Days, November 13th and 14th.


Just about the time we’ll be getting our first serious winter rain storms in the Northwest, you could take part in PHCA’s first Pedalhaus, touring local Passive Houses by bike (in the sun) on Saturday, the 14th.


It will be a nice break for your brain after Friday’s idea-packed agenda.  Highlights:


Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy and Director of the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy (3CSEP) at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California (Los Angeles and Berkeley), and has an MS in Physics from the Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary.


Dr. Urge-Vorsatz is a current Vice Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Coordinating Lead Author of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning 2007 IPCC report.  Her focus was on how critical low-energy buildings are for GHG mitigation and the danger of “locked-in” high emissions from buildings constructed today that will be in use far into the future. 


Stuart Bernstein, global head of the Clean Technology and Renewables (CTR) Group for Goldman, Sachs & Co, on the building owner’s perspective. 


John Sarter, Sustainable design/build firm CEO of Off The Grid Design, will preview a cleaner development future with his Sol-Lux Alpha, California's first Multi-family Microgrid, Passive House, Carbon Zero Living + Transportation System.



Passive House Breaks Ground in New York City and Cuts a Ribbon in Oregon

Two June event show how far Passive House has progressed in the US.  On June 25th, the Oregonian reported the ribbon cutting for the Orchards at Orenco Station, near Hillsboro, Oregon.  The Orchards is the largest multi-family building designed and constructed to the Passive House Standard in North America.  It contains 57-units affordable to low-income renters.  Katrin Klingenberg, PHIUS Executive Director, travelled to the ribbon cutting, meeting with many members of PHnw.



Walsh Construction Company was the general contractor, and Walsh VP Mike Steffan serves on the board of directors of PHnw.


Green Hammer was the Certified Passive House Consultant for the Orchards.  Green Hammer’s VP Alex Boetzel serves on the PHnw board and just stepped down as President.   In addition, Dylan Lamar of Green Hammer, prepared the PHPP for the Orchards.  Dylan has been an active presenter in many PHnw conferences and workshops, including his recent presentation on DesignPH 


Meanwhile, on the Eastern side of our continent, in New York City, Mayor de Blasio and other dignitaries broke ground on what will be in two short years the largest Passive House in the world: a 26-story skyscraper with 350 apartments. 



Ken Levenson, President of New York Passive House, one of PHnw’s sister regional trade association, blogged about this auspicious event.  Don’t miss the remarkable 4-minute video of Mayor de Blasio’s remarks.  Warning: this make your throat tighten and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  Passive House is finally going mainstream.


And the New York Times continued its fantastic coverage of Passive House with an article about the the Cornell Tech tower as momentous as its December, 2008 introduction to Passive House You can see many other excellent NYT coverage of Passive House at no cost.


Seventeen years after the summer of 1998 when Dr. Feist first introduced his Passive House research in North America during the American Council for an Energy Efficienct Economy (ACEEE) Summer Study on Buildings conference, Passive House has truly taken hold in the US.  


In fact, it was only 7 years ago this summer that some members of PHnw attended the first organized Passive House consultant training organized by PHIUS in Urbana, Ilinois. 


Already, these early seeds have borne fruit.  However, our climate is changing just as fast as the way we think about and build our buildings.  We must work faster and better to revolutionize buildings.

Mark Your 2016 Calendar for PHnw 7!

Passive House Northwest (PHnw) is a trade association of passive house professionals, and PHnw’s annual conference is full of helpful information, advice, tips, and product information for building the highest-performance buildings in the world.


PHnw holds its 7th Conference in Portland on Friday, March 18, 2016.


This short video about the PHnw 6 Conference in Seattle gives you a taste of what you can expect:

We're Officially Certifiers!

About a year ago, Dr. Witta Ebel, co-owner of the Passivhaus Institut (PHI) , and wife of Dr. Wolfgang Feist, invited us to become PHI-accredited Passive House Certifiers. 


Well, good things take time.  And so did the long road to becoming Certifiers.


After several months of research led us to establish CertiPHIers as a Cooperative business early this year, it was time to prepare for traveling to Darmstadt, Germany for training.  The logistics for getting four people to the same place at the right times and for the right price were daunting, but we pulled it off!  


Albert Rooks, Christina Snyder, Dylan Lamar, and Tad Everhart travelled to Darmstadt in April and took part in six days of intensive training at PHI.  Here we are with our class. 



It was eye-opening to study Passive House with accomplished experts from Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, and South Korea.  Fortunately, they all speak English as do virtually all 60 of PHI staff.  Sometimes, the biggest language barrier was with those folks from the U.K. with their funny accents and terms (what’s “fabric” and “shuttering” and “bespoke”?).


After attending further training in workshops prior to the International PH Conference in Leipzig, we returned to Darmstadt for two more days of training and signing our Certifiers Contract with PHI.  On Earth Day, Tad signed the Contract on behalf of CertiPHIers Cooperative.  And by the time we all returned from Germany, Dr. Feist had signed on behalf of PHI.



Upon our return we’ve been busy setting up our certification protocols and returning calls from people eager to use our service.  At the same time, in Germany, the PHI has been revamping its website.  We’re proud to see our name on PHI’s list of accredited Certifiers based in the USA 



However, we’re in excellent company operating in North America.  The Passive House Academy  (based in Ireland and New York City) and Andrew Peel (Peel Passive House Consulting, based in Canada) have been busily certifying buildings to the Passive House Standard as well and will continue to do so in a friendly competition with CertiPHIers which gives you both a choice and many benefits of a competitive market.

Corkhaus – Albert and Eva’s Cork-Clad Condo

Just shy of five years after Rob Hawthorne and Bart Berquist’s PDX Living LLC completed Corehaus , Portland’s first certified Passive House, Albert Rooks, owner of the Small Planet Workshop is nearing completion of his Corkhaus.

Albert has served on the board of directors of Passive House Northwest from its inception 5 years ago and provided incredible leadership within local, regional, and national passive house and green building communities including the NAPHN and the Northwest Ecobuilding Guild

With this EnerPHIt (Passive House Institute’s deep energy retrofit standard), Albert is walking his talk.  Both on energy consumption and green building.


Making the Move

Last year, Albert and Eva put their lovely countryside home up for sale.  This is sad in a way because we could always count on Albert and Eva to host PHnw board of director meetings in a lovely, comfortable setting in a space big enough for our 13 directors.  However, the sale liberated them.  No longer must they drive daily into Olympia from the countryside.  And it allowed them to downsize into a small condo. 

Even better, it allowed Albert to EnerPHit their new home.  A nice cubic condo!  And try many of the products he sells at Small Planet Workshop.


Uncovered exterior cork insulation

First, as the name suggests, their Corkhaus sports 3” of exterior cork insulation.  Unfinished and uncovered.  Completely exposed to the elements other than a modest roof overhang for the two story box.  Sun, wind, and rain have already bleached the cork to a light tan, but over time Albert expects it will age it to a dark gray – almost black.


Albert’s SPW sells this “ThermaCork” the Carbon Negatively processed, natural insulation imported from Portugal   


When he travelled to Portugal, Albert noticed that some buildings don’t cover the insulating cork but rely on air, wind, radiation, and warmth to dry it.  He’ll try it!

Although the Prosoco FastFlash  Albert applied under the ThermaCork provides a Weather Resistant Barrier protecting his condo’s sheathing, Albert believes that even in a Pacific Northwest climate, the Thermacork will shed water and dry. 

He’s allowing RDH Building Sciences (Graham Finch and Robert Lapage) to monitor the backside of the Thermacork for evidence of moisture intrusion, and you can see the moisture probes inserted into the cork leading through the sheathing to the data collector.

You can see that Albert carefully overlapped the Thermacork panels so water entering the seams can drain down and out.  This overlap also allowed him to hide the fastners for a cleaner appearance.

We’ll keep you posted on RDH Building Science’s findings.


CO2 Refrigerant Heat Pump Whole-house Heating

Second, Albert and Eva are only the second homeowners in North America trusting both their morning shower AND their space conditioning to a CO2-refrigerant heat pump water heater WITHOUT a backup electric resistance heater.  Other than the stove/oven and lighting and appliances, Corkhaus has no heating source other than their Sanden Eco-System heat pump water heater.


Just like the line of environmentally-superior building products Albert sells, Sanden’s CO2 refrigerant avoids the huge global warming footprint of conventional heat pump refrigerants.


Albert’s been eager to try this new technology, and with WSU Extension Energy Program performing both laboratory testing and now field testing for Bonneville Power Administration conveniently from Ken Eklund’s office at the WSU in Olympia, Albert jumped at the opportunity to participate.

WSU is field testing Sanden’s CO2 Eco-System at four other locations, and interim field test reports are encouraging.  However, none of those houses except Dan Welch’s home in Bellingham is a combi-system, providing both domestic hot water and space heating.

This presented another opportunity for Albert since he sells HRVs manufactured by Zehnder America Zehnder also owns Runtal, a manufacturer of high-quality radiators, and Albert and Eva will keep snug on winter nights with space heating from one Runtal radiator on each floor plus a tiny strip radiator in their bathroom.

Best of all, these slim radiators fit under Albert’s new Euroline windows revealing his stunning view of Puget Sound and Olympia’s waterfront.

Albert got his preliminary blower door result two weeks ago.  It’s a promising 5 ACH. 

This summer, he plans to airseal and superinsulate his roof (presently subinsulated with only R-11 fiberglass batts).  Send him all of your ideas.


Science Projects: Tried at Home

Just 25 years after Dr. Feist started building the first passivhaus for his family (and 3 neighboring families) as a science experiment, Albert and Eva are taking part in two science experiments with their EnerPHit.

With their Corkhaus, they follow in the footsteps of many pioneers of energy-efficiency buildings. 

Not only building science pioneers, they are in the subset of the bravest pioneers who experimented on their own families’ homes.  For example, we’re in debt to Dr. Feist for the science experiment he started 25 years ago,  And to Katrin Klingenberg for her passive home 12 years later. 

Remember the old warning: “Don’t try this at home.”  Forget it!  We’d not be as far along with passive house if people followed it.

Today, Albert and Eva are carrying on this fine tradition of experimenting. . . . in their own home. 

We’ll keep you posted on his final blower door test.


Photos courtesy of Scott Means, Means Photography 

Dr. Rob Dumont, Ph.D. - Passive House Pioneer

 Rob Dumont 

Rob Dumont 

North American Passive House Pioneer Rob Dumont, Ph.D. passed away earlier this month in his hometown Saskatoon where he was famous for building several homes (including his own) which were warm all winter without a furnace.  Dr. Dumont collaborated with Harold Orr on the Saskatchewan Conservation House in 1977.  And while Dr. Dumont's work pioneered passive building concepts used worldwide, he was admired regionally for helping build a local industry manufacturing heat recovery ventilation equipment.

 Saskatchewan Home

Saskatchewan Home

 Dumont's Saskatoon Home

Dumont's Saskatoon Home

Great New Free Resource

The Passive House Institute just released a beautiful little flip book that explains how Passive House enables Near-Zero-Energy (or Net Zero Energy) Buildings.  And it’s free!

 You can download it in about 5 seconds.  And flip through the 82 pages (1/2 photos and 1/2 text) in minutes.  Or read it in a half-hour.

 Send it to friends or clients you want to introduce to Passive House.  Or local government officials interested in setting the highest environmental protection goals.

 Thanks to the Passive House Institute, International Passive House Association, and the European Union, we have an attractive, free e-brochure to spread the word.