Ireland punches above its weight at IPH Conference
Airtightness expert Mark Shirley of Zephair reports from the International Passive House Conference in Aachen - with Irish low energy expertise attracting significant attention, and signs of a rapidly growing UK presence in passive house.
The 18th International Passive House Conference will close today after a rousing speech in the early part of the day by the former President of the European Parliament – Pat Cox.
Pat extolled the virtues of the venue in Aachen, explained the current challenges highlighted in the recent Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change report, the imperative for building passive houses to provide comfortable living - recalling his own passive house project - and to minimise our impact on the earth’s resources. He then enthralled the audience with the core of his speech – ‘German Know How, Irish Can Do’. This brought the audience to their feet in an unusual, spontaneous round of applause - the sort of reaction normally reserved for the closing session.
He adroitly related the established intellectual property inherent in much of the concepts and products/components of passive house and explained how a group of Irish companies have been gathered together into a cluster by Enterprise Ireland. The cluster formation has been recognised by leading economic experts as a way to accelerate combined knowledge & speed of route to market for groups of manufacturers/suppliers. Enterprise Ireland intends to expand the cluster in the near future to showcase other low energy related products, services and systems that have been developed and professionalised in Ireland over the last number of years.
Dr. Paul Butler of Enterprise Ireland stated: "The intention of this initiative is to place Irish companies at the forefront of the entire supply chain on passive house products & services for the entire world, second only to the existing German & Austrian companies. This will be done by leveraging the significant number of product suppliers, certified passive house architects and designers and - equally importantly - certified tradespeople in Ireland. The opportunity is significant."
Enterprise Ireland had a stand representing Irish cluster reference companies. This was very well attended both before but particularly after Pat Cox’s speech which served to raise Ireland's profile. The companies involved include three component manufacturers: passive certified window supplier Munster Joinery, insulating concrete formwork supplier ThermoHouse, structural insulated panel supplier SiP Energy, along with transatlantic training provider the Passive House Academy and my company, Zephair, which manufactures the Pre Pro, a tool for checking airtightness levels during construction to ensure no nasty suprises when blower door test time comes.
Representatives of all companies were on hand to speak to potential customers and the cluster formation worked very well.
The conference was as always very well attended with a noticeable shift in the nationality of attendees. Delegates from the UK made up the third largest group, attesting to the growing popularity and desire for knowledge on passive houses across the Irish sea.
Papers with topics on all types of construction were presented with the mix of academic and real world case studies across many nations being given.
Copies of Passive House Plus were available to delegates throughout the conference and we were delighted to see them being taken by people from all over the world. It was a common sight to see them being carried along with the other materials being gathered as attendees improved their knowledge base.