ProAir: From humble beginnings to passive house certification
In this blog post, David McHugh of Irish heat recovery ventilation manufacturer ProAir recalls the story of the company, from its foundation in his spare bedroom right up to its recent passive house certification
Many household global companies such as Facebook and Microsoft have started off in the founder’s spare bedroom converted to an office or a lab. The next step was often the eviction of the family car to create a production facility. The origin of ProAir was no different, in fact the very first ProAir heat recovery unit was assembled on-site in Westport Co Mayo in July 2003. Willie McDonagh (of OakBarn Construction) was one of that great group of people called the early adopters, but we did push his patience to the limits by continuously missing the deadlines on that first prototype.
Much water has flowed since then and circa 5000 units later, ProAir has recently moved to a 7,500 sq ft facility on the edge of Galway City where it manufactures a family of heat recovery ventilation units. The production facility is not Ford Motor works but is process-driven, with a detailed quality management system in place.
The latest addition to the product line is the PA600 PLI and this has been through the mill in recent times in order to pass all the tests stipulated by the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, Germany. The PHI doesn’t carry out any testing itself, but specifies and adjudicates on the testing which is carried out by PH accredited test houses. The ProAir strategy was to use the newly accredited BRE facility in Watford. Dr Mick Swainson who oversees the Appendix Q testing, took a very personal interest in getting this, his first passive house test, right.
As a result, this testing has gone on for a prolonged period of time, as Mick, who is a leading advisor to the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) on the subject of MVHR, dipped in and out of the project over a period of eighteen months or so. This also suited ProAir as I had been very busy with a DECC funded project to develop the next generation of MVHR units.
Eventually the tests were completed in the second half of 2015, the PHI then had to carry out its due diligence on the results. The cert could have been issued in January but it was decided to wait until this year's International Passive House Institute Conference, where the presentation was made by Dr Wolfgang Feist (see photo above).