Green Building Store director Bill Butcher offers his pick of the world’s biggest sustainable design and construction conference

Ecobuild is passing in its usual exhausting - but sociable - blur.

Passivhaus has moved from fringe to mainstream this year with the Passivhaus Trust sponsored talks running throughout the three days. Many of the Passivhaus talks have been over-subscribed with standing room only.

A nice example I’ve come across of how Passivhaus is entering the mainstream is the way in which building giant Interserve has “converted” to Passivhaus - building its own offices and now two schools in Leeds to Passivhaus standards.

Interesting talks on the first day included Architype’s Elrond Burrell’s talk on the use of BIM in Passivhaus design and construction. Sounds like it could be a very useful tool to help educate the entire building team - from client to sub-contractor as to important detailing in the build.

There was also a panel chaired by Ben Humphries - also from Architype - introducing some new Rapier software which apparently links QS costings with carbon lifecycle analysis and energy consumption modelling,  which sounds like a great advancement at the design stage to model different options and compare their relative costs,  whole life carbon and energy consumption.

Andy Simmonds, of Simmonds Mills Architects, talked about EnerPHit and the Green Deal and whether they were compatible; Chris Herring spoke on our very own Denby Dale project and Justin Bere, of bere: architects, talked about advanced timber framing construction and Passivhaus.

The big buzz of the moment, in my discussions with other PH enthusiasts, seems to be around the use of internal insulation in advanced retrofits and what dangers they are going to pose in terms of condensation and moisture.

Despite the popularity of Passivhaus in talks this year, the exhibition itself still does not seem to be reflecting the boring - but essential - “fabric first’ message.

As I’ve walked through the halls there seem to be acres and acres of micro-renewables in contrast to stands focused on insulation or windows.

Exceptions to this would be the Ecological Building Products (stand S1110) and NBT (S1814) stands and the exciting new Compacfoam insulation (stand S510/S520) which combines strength and good structural form with high thermal performance.

Also definitely worth a visit is the Passivhaus Trust (stand N64) which is giving away an excellent free guide to Passivhaus.

The AECB stand nearby (stand N62) has some witty anti-greenwash badges on offer and our own stand (stand N60) is inviting feedback on our prototype window for PH projects .

For me, most of Wednesday will be taken up judging the Isover Multi-Comfort house student competition, alongside Prof Wolfgang Feist, Passivhaus consultant Nick Grant and the AJ’s Hattie Hartmann, which I’m looking forward to.

Later today, the Passivhaus Trust is launching its new Passivhaus awards programme at an event for PT members.

On Thursday the event that stands out most for me is the panel discussion with Prof Wolfgang Feist at 14.15 in the North Gallery 4 & 5 on “Passivhaus as the advanced energy standard in the UK”. 

I have also heard that there is a Viennese Kaffeehaus at the Austrian stand, which definitely sounds worth a look!

Bill Butcher is director of the Green Building Store