Hilary is our NJPH chapter coordinator and she’s especially glad that the worst of the pandemic is over. Since the spring, Hilary has hosted three super successful in-person socials and says it feels great to finally be able to see people again.
How did you get interested in Passive House design?
As a child of an architecture professor, I’ve always been exposed to building and developed an interest in sustainable design early on. I loved talking about how designers can create buildings that respond to their environments to be positive places to live and work, but was always on the hunt for practical strategies that could complement traditional design work. I was introduced to the standard in a lecture in NYC about ten years ago and instantly knew this was the standard to aspire to.
Passive House shouldn’t be just for the privileged few. What are your ideas on how we scale it up for everyone?
I really believe the standard should be democratized so it’s obtainable to everyone. My office works primarily in the single family and small multifamily sector, so my work is largely about educating clients and finding ways to apply the standard to what would be considered everyday renovation projects. We ask ourselves questions about affordability and accessibility all the time, which has led to developing details in-house that can be applied to our typical renovation projects regardless of a client’s certification goals. We take a performance first attitude, then if the client can afford it, we’ll suggest certification or more aggressive renovation techniques. We’ve also worked on some multiple-family projects that are a great way to bring the standard to a larger number of people much faster than we can achieve by working on one house at a time.
What do you like about heading up the NJPH chapter?
I really enjoy the camaraderie of being in the trenches with other Passive House advocates. As a natural introvert, it’s also been really great stretching my comfort zone, meeting new people, and understanding their unique experiences. I give a lot of my time, but I also receive a lot back in support and being part of a community.
Why do you think Passive House is important?
We’ve been living in a delicate balance with the health of the planet and the need to make changes to how we live and treat the environment is only growing more urgent. Passive House is the most practical and actionable way to change building habits to make the biggest impact on energy use in the building sector. If we choose to design and build to the Passive House standard as a default, we can make a huge impact on our role in the health of the planet, our communities, and everyone’s quality of life.
You’ve designed some Passive House projects. What do your clients say about them?
They love how quiet and comfortable they are. The most positive feedback we get is about what they don’t notice anymore: noise, dust, drafts, uncomfortable environment, allergies, etc. The list goes on, but the common theme is an improved quality of life. Who wouldn’t want that?
Check out Hilary’s firm, pHdesign.
Meet Hilary at a NJPH chapter meeting.