Tom Hartman, Chris Benedict, Andy Shapiro, and I are in the midst of a 2-week tour of high performance buildings in Saxony and Upper Austria. We’ll be presenting our findings during three sessions at Building Energy. Here’s a very quick taste of some of the things we’ve seen.
Andy, Chris, and Tom talking with architect Gunter Lassy at the offices of Lassy Architects in Linz, Austria. Gunter represents the 4th generation in his family to work at the 18-person firm. Gunter’s not sold on Passive House, having tried it. But, based on weather trends over the last 10 summers or so in Linz, he’s getting really worried about the region’s ability to handle increased cooling loads.
Sunset view of part of Solar Village, a 5-year-old development on the outskirts of Linz; Lassy Architects designed some of the apartment blocks in this development. Built to Passive House standards (as defined by the Austrians, anyway — there’s an interesting conversation in and of itself), actual performance data shows a very broad range of energy usage, with some units consuming as much as five times the energy as other, similar units. Bottom line: If you leave the windows open all winter in a high-performance building, it becomes a low-performance building. Who’d have thought?
A view of a delightful Kindergarten in the tiny Austrian village of Schneegattern. One of the first schools in Austria inspired by Passive House strategies, it uses wood pellets for heating. Our host Herbert Nagl told me, “We believe in investing heavily in our children here.”
Here Chris, Tom, and Andy admire the underground wood pellet storage in the school’s backyard. To get a view of just what they’re looking at in there, you’ll have to come to our March 9th sessions.
Herbert also showed us the community music school. Here’s where the village’s two volunteer wind ensembles practice (the town has two bands, five fire brigades, and 4800 citizens). This is a photo of a music stand — note the beer glass holder. Herbert said the typical practice regimen for the bands consists of 2 hours of rehearsing and 6 hours of drinking beer, with considerable overlap between the two activities, apparently. Nonetheless, the local bands fare very well in regional competitions.