Over 200 attendees gathered in the BSA Space in downtown Boston for our first in-person Symposium in three years. Together we celebrated our collective work over these last several years turning Massachusetts from a state playing catch-up to one that is now a leader in Passive House policy, incentives, construction, and innovation.
Maggie McCarey, Energy Efficiency Director at the MA Department of Energy Resources, kicked off the morning with a presentation and discussion of the new Specialized Opt-In building code and updated Stretch Code that passed this year. This updated building code not only includes Passive House as a pathway, but will require it for certain buildings, a first in the nation code achievement and a prime example of how Massachusetts is now leading the way in building policy.
Other sessions throughout the day focused on Pushing the Boundaries of Passive House in existing buildings, all-electric projects, low-carbon construction, and large-scale developments. An all-star panel of project team members presented on the new Northland Newton Development, which will one of largest Passive House residential developments in the country at over 700 units across 8 buildings. Brad Mahoney, of developer MP Boston, then presented on Winthrop Center in downtown Boston, soon-to-be the largest Passive House office-space in the world when it opens early next year. These record-setting projects served to showcase how Massachusetts has now become the center of Passive House development, a theme that echoed throughout this year’s event.
Looking beyond new construction, this year’s Symposium also featured multiple sessions highlighting how Passive House is being used to retrofit existing buildings. Salem Heights, a large affordable housing complex in Salem, was one of these case-studies and both the developer and Passive House consultant dived into the weeds on how they applied Passive House strategies to upgrade this old building into an efficient and healthy modern space – all without disturbing the residents living in place. Another session shared multiple studies of deep-energy retrofits and compared energy performance, construction costs, and more data to clearly show how Passive House retrofits can not only reduce energy use and create better living spaces, but can also be done even more affordable than tear-downs for many of our old buildings.
The last session of the day reviewed the advocacy work that made Massachusetts the leader we now are and then looked forward to the next wave of policy at the federal and state levels. From the Inflation Reduction Act to state climate bills, carbon emission reduction from existing buildings is a clear target in policy goals and Passive House will need to continue to being at that the forefront of these initiatives. Massachusetts may have set a new example for the rest of the country to follow, but we still have much work to do. We hope to see you all next year as we continue pushing the boundaries of Passive House!