By Molly Cox

The Residential Green Building Committee gathered for a meeting on May 9th, 2016. We had a presentation from Declan Keefe who is the Strategic Director at Placetailor, an architecture firm focusing on design and development of energy efficient buildings.


Placetailor is unique in the energy efficiency building space, as they incorporated the Passive House (Passivhaus) standards from Germany into the US market (there are separate standards for Passive House US), which mandate environmentally friendly heating and cooling systems in a building. Placetailor also strives to achieve a net zero source energy rating for their projects, meaning the building’s production will zero out when “embodied energy” is taken into account, as opposed to net zero site energy. This embodied energy is not directly tied to Passive House standards, but Placetailor has made great strides to achieve this through employment of local crews, purchasing of materials nearby, and more. Net zero site energy does not include the full life cycle analysis of the building’s creation, but homeowners can make further strides to achieve net zero source energy by installing solar PV for example.

Keefe shared some case studies of past projects with us, which gave us a chance to ask any and all questions about the details of their work. Their first project in 2008 was the Pratt House, and the previous owner of Placetailor actually lived there. Furthermore, the Rocksberry project has a roof that was installed at an asymmetric angle, to accommodate Solar PV if the homeowner chose to install.


Placetailor is a competitive player in the energy efficiency building market, especially when it comes to cost. Overall, they have found their projects are outperforming what they had modeled initially, and utility bills are lower than predicted for their clients. It was an amazing presentation, and we look forward to staying on top of future Passive House news!


To continue our Committee meeting, we discussed RGBC initiatives for this year. We found advocacy to be a common interest among us all, and we plan to focus on these efforts. We will also have some updates for the Integrated Energy Efficiency Program in Somerville and Boston soon!

We have a building tour coming up on June 4th, visiting two houses. Sign up HERE. Stay tuned for some more events with USGBC!

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