Passivhaus: barriers and challenges

Workshop remarks

On the 15th of June 2021, we had a fantastic time in the first LatamHaus workshop. In this workshop, we had the opportunity to discuss the barriers and challenges for adopting the Passivhaus in Mexico and Latin America. Elena Reyes from the Passive House Institute (PHI) joined us at this event.

The session was brief but with lots of insights and excellent feedback. The workshop was divided into two sections. In the first section, Alejandro presented in general terms what are the barriers and challenges for the Passivhaus introduction to new regions. Elena, the key speaker for this event, talked about the experience of the Passive House Institute when the Standard is introduced to new regions and the components that are key for a successful implementation. The Passive House Institute approach takes two key aspects: support for pilot projects as the standard catalyst and a bottom-up approach. Although this approach may take longer to be embedded in the new region, it has successfully achieved long-term sustainability. This approach is a cycle that includes the development of research, components, buildings, dissemination, the use of the Passivhaus resources (i.e. Passipedia) and other tools (i.e. PHPP and PH Design), as well as capacity building and knowledge transfer.

En lugarde importar componentes podemos utilizar el approach de Wolfgang Feist en la primera Casa Pasiva: buscar soluciones con materiales existentes.

Workshop particiapnt

In the second part, the participants had the opportunity to discuss the barriers in their countries. The group discussions were guided through the help of some digital whiteboards created for this event. More than 30 barriers and challenges were identified, and 8 were discussed in greater detail by the participants.

The most critical of the barriers identified and discussed by the participants are:

  • Public engagement. There is a need to create direct public engagement with the final users. This demonstrates how the Passivhaus works (i.e. Ice Box Challenge) and provides information to the final user about the benefits (i.e. health & well-being, low-energy consumption and economic savings – long and short term).
  • Co-design participatory policies. The change needs to come from the people; these changes should include the national investment, social factors and policies to support the R&D for the products needed for low-energy buildings.
  • Be local! With this, we refer to materials and the need to create an ecosystem to improve the skills and abilities of local communities. Local networking was also a vital component. This could start the discussion and support new projects and interdisciplinary collaborations, particularly between academia and the industry.

Finally, one of the best solutions is to generate interdisciplinary synergies between academia and the industry. Remarkably, the lecturer’s role in inserting the seed in their students for a long-term sustainable solution with a local approach.

We had participants from all over Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina! The LatamHaus Team wishes to thank all participants and speakers who invested their time and effort to make this workshop a great experience for us all!

LatamHaus: Passivhaus Designer Course impact

LatamHaus, in partnership with ILAPH, Arquiambiente and  Castano y Asociados, delivered such a fantastic time during the Passive House Designer Course. LatamHaus supported some participants with 80% scholarships. Our biggest aim is to develop capacity-building activities and support net-Zero and carbon-neutral projects aligned with the UK Government’s national and international goals.

We recognise that one of the most important factors for this kind of project is setting the seed for change on the right people. That is why we at LatamHaus decided to support academics, professionals, and policymakers on their carer development as Passivhaus designers. We are confident these people will have a broad impact on their communities and countries. Shortly after the finishing course, a participant shared the way it has already impacted him and their institution opening and opened international research collaboration opportunities:

“I started an international collaboration to develop a net-Zero residential tower pilot project in my city. The skills and abilities I learned in this course will help us achieve our university goals. The support from the LatamHaus network made this possible and would like to continue working with Lancaster University in this and future projects.”

— Academic participant

Other participants also shared how they see the impact that these new skills and abilities will have an impact on their day to day life and communities:

“As a specialist in restoration and rehabilitation at a building and urban levels, this course has been beneficial to approach the Passivhaus methodology into heritage buildings. In a broad context, I see the potential at the local, national and international level to develop projects and establish interdisciplinary collaborations. It was interesting to see the experiences in Europe and Latin  American countries where this methodology has already been applied.”

— Academic participant

“I believe that this course will have a very significant impact on my professional work, but above all on the academic. I am pushing for the Faculty of Architecture at the ‘National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)’ continue to deepen the teaching of sustainability and energy efficiency.

In the short term, I mainly see  that the knowledge applied in a future project to develop a digital course called ‘Construction with Energy Efficiency and Thermal Comfort (EECT).’ The skills I gained at the Passive House Designer course are invaluable for the EECT project. I am also more confident to start international collaborations with people and organisation with shared objectives.”

— Professional and academic participant

It is incredible to see how the participants expect the course to impact their communities and those surrounding them. LatamHaus impact is beyond academia, as the participants plan to share the knowledge with younger generations and apply their new skills to future projects.

“As a professional, the Passivhaus Designer Course will help me to become more competitive as I will be able to offer more products for our customers. My projects will seek to improve the quality of life and making resource-efficient decisions. In the short, medium and long terms, these concrete actions will help reduce the impacts of climate change by lowering the CO2 emissions on the built environment.

As a lecturer, I will be able to give up-to-date lectures informed by excellent research about sustainable architecture and healthy indoor environments to our undergraduate and postgraduate students” participant

— Professional and academic

We are so thrilled to see that the LatamHaus activities had the desired impact and how the project planted much-needed change to start the change. Our next activity is some interactive workshops on which we will have the opportunity to explore the Passivhaus in the Latin American context. We will have key speakers from the Passive House Institute and the Latin American Passivhaus Institute. Everyone is welcome to attend these free events; if you are interested, please register here.

LatamHaus workshop program

The LatamHaus team is very excited to make this open invitation to participate in the LatamHaus workshops. To attend you would need to be registered (please follow the become a member instructions). On these activities, we will have a member of the Passive House Institute (PHI) in Germany and one of the Latin American Passivhaus Institute (ILAPH).

In the first workshop ‘Passivhaus: barriers and challengesElena Reyes from PHI will be the key speaker. Elena and Alejandro will present the context of the Passivhaus, as well as some of the barriers and challenges to implement the Passivhaus in Mexico and Latin America. Then the participants will have the opportunity to carry out some interactive activities related to this topic and how to solve them. This workshop will take place on Tuesday, June 15 at 09:15 (AM Mexico City Time Zone) and will last approximately 2 hours.

In the second workshop ‘The SDGs and the Passivhaus‘, Juan Manuel Vazquez from ILAPH will be the key speaker. Juan Manuel and Alejandro will present how the Passivhaus will help us contribute positively to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Then the participants will have the opportunity to carry out some interactive activities related to this topic and its approach. This workshop will take place on Tuesday, June 29 at 09:15 (AM Mexico City Time Zone) and will last approximately 2 hours.

In addition to these two workshops, we want to offer you a third one to discuss the topics in which you have some concerns around the Passivhaus. If you have any topics you would like to cover, please contact us before May 30th. This workshop will take place on Tuesday, July 13 at 09:15 (AM Mexico City Time Zone) and will last approximately 2 hours.

Activities plan

The LatamHaus network is an interdisciplinary network for people interested in low-carbon emission homes, indoor air quality and Passivhaus buildings in Latin America. As such, the network will allow you the opportunity to discuss and engage with different community members.

LatamHaus seeks to understand the challenges, barriers, and scalability issues to adopt the Passivhaus Standard. We explore solutions to address these concerns and contribute positively to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly the SDG 03 (Health and wellbeing) and 09 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure). The network activities will improve capacity building and develop proof-of-concept ideas for sustainable, healthy and affordable housing through the Passivhaus Standard.

The planned online activities for the LatamHaus Network are:

  • Engaging with the housing industry professionals to evaluate the Passivhaus residential design impact on indoor air quality and carbon emissions.
  • Co-authoring research outputs with professionals in Mexico and Latin America.
  • Developing capacity building activities for Passivhaus projects and future research.
  • Providing Passivhaus training to professionals, academics and policymakers.
  • Provide a platform to develop ideas and discuss future projects.

We welcome participation and representation from all sectors of the society. We recognise that women are underrepresented in the building industry in Latin America. Therefore, we encourage women to become members and engage with activities.