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The following is based on a presentation given by ANDA KURSISA on 29 May 2010 at the 14th International Passive House Conference, Dresden, Germany, and refers to the author’s experiences in setting up a Lativan Passive House Association.
To create a strong network of sustainable industries, to encourage the uptake of low energy building standards and to promote sustainable development through the formation of a Passive House Association.
In order to answer these initial questions, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis should be conducted.
Using a bottom-up strategy, one can start with informal networking, moving on to support from small businesses as well as green thinking municipalities, individuals and opinion leaders.
In the begining, it makes sense to approacnh friends and companies with the Passive House concept, asking for their assistance, contacts and enthusiasm. Positive partisan marketing, or seeking every opportunity to overcome stagnation, doubts, uncertainty and suspicion, is of the utmost importance.
Experts to focus on first and foremost on a regional level may include various environmental, architectural and energy related networks and decision making bodies.
Taking the Latvian example, the sustainable industry professionals that were first involved on a local level included the energy group of the Latvian Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the Ministry of the Environment Advisory Board, the Latvian Architect Association, the Latvian Association of Building Engineers and the consultancy services of the Ministry of the Environment.
On an international level, the focus could tend towards expert research institutes, other professionals in the field and educational bodies. Often, this involvement takes the form of involvement in international projects.
Again taking the Latvian example, the sustainable industry professionals that were first involved on an international level included the Energieinstitut Voralberg, Tartu University Estonia and Norwegian energy professionals while international projects included the Estonia – Latvia programme – project “Active through Passive”, EEA Grants and Norway Grants for “Low energy building in Latvia”, and the “Nordic Baltic network development for sustainable energy management methods at manufacturing industries: Manufactory Integrated Energy Design”.
Offering training opportunities such as special Passive House seminars or the Passive House Designer Course helps strengthen involvement and further the pool of knowledgeable actors locally. In addition to the above, short 2 day training courses introducing Passive House basics including thermal envelopes, windows, heating and ventilation systems and the Passive House Planning Package tool were offered in the Latvian example, as were six day training courses for prospective local lecturers at Latvian Architects Society.
Simply touring already built Passive Houses is also a good way to raise both interest in and understanding of the Passive House concept. Business trips to Passive Houses for prospective clients and business partners help when it comes to understanding basic Passive House principles and work to overcome myths about the cost as well as the technical and architectural limitations of Passive Houses.
The aforementioned approach is a good way to strengthen the Passive House movement in regions or countries not yet very active in the field.
In the Latvian case, the network “Passive House Latvija” was successfully created. The network relied on a variety of interdisciplinary communication strategies such as Open Space communication technology. Regionally, the network works to communicate with entrepreneurs using the business case for Passive Houses, as increasing their market share is in the interest of all the actors involved.
The moral of the story:
BE INNOVATIVE, TAKE INITIATIVE, HELP OTHERS GET ON BOARD, THE REST WILL FOLLOW
In short term and especially in the face of instable, weak or declining markets, NGOs must promote low-energy building concepts as the successful instrument for the long-term development of the building market and economy. As in Latvia, in just the space of a year, the Passive House Standard can gain recognition and even become widely known in professional circles and municipalities, with the parties involved showing themselves ready to both discuss and implement a step-by-step transition to more stringent energy standards.
Formal, costly public relation techniques are not required to get the job done. Low cost, informal and creative solutions work just as well.
It can be done. The most important requirements are a positive attitude, competence and the involvement of professional organisations.