Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

SUPERhouse! the story of buildings and energy

A film by J.D. Wager, New Society Publishers, 60 Minutes

Review by Thaddeus Rumple

SUPERhouse! sets aside the old dictum that form follows function. Part of the reason buildings look as they do is based a direct relationship between form and energy. People will waste energy if it is too inexpensive to consider, regardless of the simple, predictable fact that the price will change, eventually becoming important. And so old-fashioned construction techniques produce energy hogs.

This video looks at building codes, industry practices, the economics of building approaches, and the ever increasing cost of living in a world with a quickly changing climate. Balancing the energy equation is an important step towards more security on our planet, in our nation, and our communities. Buildings use 49% of all primary energy we create.

The passive house building approach can have a have a profound effect on not only carbon emissions, but also on energy security. Reducing imports keeps more money in the local area and boosts job creation. For the homeowner, it means low costs, but interestingly also makes the hose more comfortable. No large furnace is required, the heating and cooling systems are so simplified that they can be inexpensive and take up very little space.

SUPERhouse! makes it easy to understand the passive house standard. The viewer gets the techniques explained through brief interviews with sixteen experts, among whom are Wolfgang Feist, Bill McKibben, and Alex Wilson. A number of others local to New England also appear. The purpose of the video is to educate a wide audience, creating an awareness of how carbon emissions can be reduced

Every builder and architect should see this DVD before undertaking any new construction project. In fact, we believe every building permit should require standards for air sealing and insulation based on the passive house standard. There is simply no excuse for continuing construction of energy hogs, when efficient buildings can be built that cost next to nothing to heat and are more comfortable than old-fashioned construction makes possible, and that have construction costs that might even be lower.

We have a large number of heated structures that could be improved by deep energy retrofits based on the passive house standard, so I have one question. When is the next movie coming out about how to fix existing buildings?

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