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  • Writer's pictureElisa Lanzutti

2019 New Gravity Housing Conference was a success!

I am so glad I’ve decided to attend for the first time the New Gravity Housing Conference organize by Green Building United and hosted by Temple University in Philadelphia on August 1st and 2nd.

Amazing sessions on the two days conference and tours on Friday afternoon were offered.

It has been a great opportunity to develop new relationships with professionals interested in environmental responsible design and touch base with people in the “green construction community” I knew already.

Here are the sessions I’ve attended, and I’ve enjoyed the most:

1) Solving the Wooden Building Puzzle - Combining Passive House + Wood Fiber + Pre-Fab

Presenters: Ilka Cassidy, Holzraum System llc, C2 Architecture | Steve Hessler, Holzraum System llc, Hugh Lofting Timber Framing & High Performance Building | Marlee Beres, Blueprint Robotics | Martin Lettenmeier, Blueprint Robotics

This was the first session I’ve attended and by reading the description it kind of looked a typical one so when we were getting to the saucy part of it the revolution of the work they were presenting took me unexpectedly , and it literally blew my mind first thing in the morning…a sort of welcome to the new frontier!

Ilka and Steve apparently partnered together and they come up with a new assembly system called holzraum system” where they flipped the construction of a typical exterior wall and switched all the “bad/super carbon intensive” insulation with a “nice/carbon negative” insulation type. They tested the assembly and simulated the thermal and hygrometric behavior of it and the performance is incredibly stable and “healthy”.

There is more… they partner as well with an extremely technically advanced and detail oriented company named Blueprint Robotics that can deliver top quality pre-fab paneled construction with extreme precision, coordination and time-scheduling prediction. Translated: solve problems before they present themselves, avoid delays and conflicts, save a lot of money for loan interests and unforeseen conditions.

My mission is to get in touch with all of them and consider their service for my next Passive House project!

2) Project Drawdown

Presenter: Dr. Jonathan Foley

Foley’s presentation was a general one and not specifically addressed to our nerd-Architects type of audience. Honestly… this was so refreshing!

We tend to be so focused sometimes on details and technicality of our field of expertise that we forget the big picture. This session took us back to the basics. It reminded us that, despite the environmental footprint of our building (construction and use) is huge, other aspects of our lives have enormous impact on our planet. Some of the key points are:

A- Food consumption and impact of our culinary habits. Think about the impact of meat eaters…

B- Educate girls. At the end of the day we kind of represent half of the population in this world so empowerment of women can have a great impact

C- Extreme population growth. It is kind of going out of control and I am guilty of contributing on this escalating trend for more then my replacement. I have mixed feeling about this point.

And then, there is the approach!

We should stop creating fear for the climate change and the global warming. We should move to the hope stage. It is all about envisioning the future we want and work for it. We have a problem so we should consider it as an OPPORTUNITY and propose a SOLUTION. Where we have conflicts, we should promote COLLABORATIONS. From a concerned vision we should move to a LEADERSHIP VISION.

Starting from 6 personalities reactions to the climate change we should involve the people that are in the most active status to promote changes.

3) Engaging the Climate Spectrum: Passive House for all

Presenters: Jeremy Avellino, Bright Common Co-Moderator | Rachael Kerns-Wetherington, Independent Psychology Practice

Panelists: David Ross, Partner, Argo Property Group Erin Murray, Passive House Owner

This session started focusing on the psychological effect that the climate change issue has on us. It does create different feelings in people, and it is very interesting that we went back to the 6 personalities reactions previously introduced. Some of us are concerned, other dismiss the problem others might have anxiety because of it. This session analyzed the human typical behaviors in response to facing a problem and identified the perfect state of mind that allow us to take action. It is like a window between opposite emotions that drives us into action and propels us to great changes. The panelist analyzed their drives and goals to embark themselves in environmentally sustainable project and developments.

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