Retrofits for climate mitigation

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Wendy Woods

Jul 31, 2021, 2:35:44 PMJul 31

Hello All,

Thanks for your thoughts, Annette.  Passive House Design principles are an effective strategy to mitigate climate change.  Jan Fillinger, a Passive House Architect in Eugene OR, advised on the retrofit of my older home.  Briefly, Passive House buildings are built tightly to prevent unwanted heat and cool air movement into or out of buildings.  Insulation levels far greater than current code greatly reduce the energy required to maintain temperatures inside when installed over a vapor barrier.  Special ventilation is installed that conserves energy in the building. 

Passive House principles are useful for retrofitting older homes as well.  For example, my 1967 ranch style, single level home prior to insulating and air sealing the ceiling used an average of 20 kw per day during the coldest months.  Afterward this was just 10 kw per day in January when a ductless heat pump was providing all of the heat for the 1200 sq. ft. house.  The most cost effective aspect of this retrofit was super insulation of the attic floor over a vapor barrier to prevent heat loss.  The vapor barrier increases the effectiveness of the insulation. 

Europe has used these methods for decades to conserve energy.  Since methane is a potent greenhouse gas which is used to heat 2/5 homes in Oregon, less need to heat or cool is also better for climate.  Electrification of buildings would eliminate the need for methane, accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

How do we get the city council to set up a revolving loan program for low to middle income homeowners to retrofit and electrify their homes?  How do we get an efficient ductless heat pump installed in every home?  How do we get rental owners to retrofit and super insulate rentals?  The hotter it gets the more cool buildings will become a matter of survival. 
Reported by on May 31, 2021: 

"Dozens of researchers who looked at heat deaths in 732 cities around the globe from 1991 to 2018 calculated that 37% were caused by higher temperatures from human-caused warming."


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