What questions do people ask us about the Superpod® passive house system?
We’ve opened up our Superpod® a couple of times in the last 2 weeks.
Once for International Passive House Day. It was exciting to be part of an international project, where all around the world, on the same weekend, people let the public into their homes to see and feel the passive house difference.
Then we had a Sustainable House Tour run by the local Bass Coast Shire – it’s great to have Council support for sustainable living and healthy environments.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the questions I had to field, and how I answered them. Just a tiny snapshot. The conversations go for hours…
We talked about carbon footprint and embodied energy – with the comparison being made between stick timber frames and steel frames in our Superpod®. The assumption is that timber is good, and steel is not.
Ah, it’s not the whole picture I said! (Believe me I think about this a lot.) What’s the whole picture? You might ask.
I can’t tell you the whole picture in one blog, but I can paint a bit more of the landscape.
First, our Superpod® is a prototype for any size building. High rise, warehouse, office, church, school, child care centre, hospital. You don’t see thin stick frames as the main structure on these sorts of buildings because they are not strong enough. Also remote builds, transportables, and areas where termites eat the frames and you need steel anyway. Our system isn’t workable with a stick frame. You can’t easily transport these types of buildings on stick frames. You can’t keep the termites off them.
So your consideration of carbon footprint needs to think about your comparator.
But wait, there’s more!
A normal site built house might take 9-10 months to build. A Superpod® equivalent might take 6 weeks, in part because of the pre-designed, pre-fabricated (prefab) , beautiful steel frame. Who takes into account the carbon emissions of all the cars and trucks and utes going back and forth to site in the long build? So there’s a massive saving there in having a fast build time.
And more still. What about waste?
Our build is an extremely lean process. Our upcoming movie comments on this. Traditional building processes usually involve an excessive amount of waste. Which all contributes to carbon emissions.
And more still, what about recycling? Steel is cradle to cradle – when a Superpod® is demolished, the steel can be reused. (I have posted before on the sustainable benefits of steel on this site.)
All of this needs to be taken into account, rather than simply comparing one material with another.
But there’s another point. I almost forgot! Of course, there are the key benefits of passive house – up to 90% less energy for the life of the building. Year after year after year. Other buildings are pumping out carbon continuously (heating, cooling, wasted air leaking out). Not so the passive house.
That’s incredible! Energy use? It’s practically nothing! Now that’s an immense benefit to the environment. As well as for the occupants themselves. There’s the most amazing reduction in carbon footprint.
That’s why Brussels has made Passive House mandatory. That’s why passive house of any kind is a key to our low energy future.