Member Profile - Brian Guinan
Q.1. Tell us about yourself and your career so far
I am 43 years old born in Ireland with 12 siblings and served my time as an apprentice carpenter under my father and uncle finishing back in 1999. I have 4 beautiful kids with my wonderful wife Sabrina. I love Motorbikes of any make size or age. I traveled to NYC in 2022 to get a little bit of experience outside my native country. This was my first experience outside of Ireland and it was a little bit of a shock to be quite honest. Quite the change is scenery from rural Ireland to the city that never sleeps. I spent a little over 6 years in NYC working mainly in low rise and single family residence construction in Manhattan. This was when I was first exposed to Green star and energy efficiency in construction. Although at the time Ireland was actually probably more progressive with energy efficiency so there was quite a lot that didn’t make sense or seemed to be less than efficient at the time. I then travelled back to Ireland during the GFC of 2008 and after a short period ventured across the skies to land in what is now our beautiful home in Perth Western Australia. Putting it mildly, I was astounded as the simple lack of effort to achieve anything further than the grossly underperforming minimum star ratings and realised there was a lot of work to be done but a lot to be achieved also. After some time working with a few residential and commercial builders it became very clear that the only way to make difference was to build different. I then spent two years studying to become a registered builder, started my own company and have been building Passive Homes.
It's now been a little over 6 years and I am a certified Passive House Consultant, Certified Passive House Tradesperson and Accredited Blower Door Tester among other things.
Q.2. What attracted you to becoming a designer?
I have been in the construction industry all my life, my father was a carpenter and I am also a carpenter. As I continued my journey here in Perth with Passive House and the construction industry it became apparent that I needed more knowledge in order to bolster not only my understanding but also peoples opinion of me. To them I was just a builder but now I am a Certified Passive House Designer/ Consultant who is also a builder and believe it of not this makes quite a difference. If you work in the Passive house space and are part of the community you will quickly realise that there is no room for bluffing. There is right and wrong and all of this is based on performance which is measurable so should anyone ever wish to verify your works or achievements they can do so quite easy and effectively. In order to be efficient in Passive House you must have the knowledge. I realised that although I was building Passive Homes successfully I needed to understand in more detail the reasons behind why I was doing what I was doing.
Q.3. How are you making an impact with Passive House?
That’s a really good question and to be honest I feel that now more than ever we are having a very positive impact on the industry. Personally I feel as though just by merely building a passive home you are making an impact but the fact that we are building at least 2 to 3 Certified Homes a year now and another 2 to 3 homes built to passive standards annually we really are making a difference. We also hold various home open events in these homes not just when they are completed and beautiful but also during the construction phase at lock up. We hold home open events in most of our homes which facilitates anyone curios or interested in Passive House to come along and have a look at the home prior to it being covered up. I also do hold a 1 hour presentation at these home opens which details Passive House and its benefits in great detail and usually ends up in lots of questions. This really has been a very successful event for us in sharing the knowledge to industry professionals as well as the general public. I also spend a lot of my time giving presentations and seminars on Passive house and its benefits to various community groups, councils, apprentice and education departments and the general public to try and raise awareness of Passive House.
Q.4. Tell us more about your most recent project, what your goal is & the rating you are trying to achieve?
There are quite a few to be honest but If I were to pick one I would have to say Cooper Haus in Halls Head just about an hour South of Perth. This beautiful Certified Passive House was one of the most challenging projects I have ever been involved in. With an undercroft garage, three split levels to the main home, an elevator, balcony and High Voltage Street Electricity lines this was an extremely challenging one. The first challenges came with just designing a high performance home to fit a narrow sloping block with difficult orientation. After about 4 months of design and value engineering we finally had our concept design and we started our envelope modeling. Once this very difficult task was completed we turned our attention to the thermal bridging detailing for the undercroft and balcony. All of the issues that presented themselves were continuously challenging but with a collaborated effort from all the team nothing proved too difficult. Once the building form was settled we finalised a HRV design and applied out pre-manufactured wall paneling system to it and we had ourselves a beautiful certified Passive House, at least on paper we did. It took a little over 10 months to complete this beautiful architectural build which was longer than normal for us but groundbreaking for WA considering the average build time for a home of this complexity would be 18 to 24 months. Another clear example of the efficiencies of Passive House and Pre-manufactured construction.
Our goal is to one day have every home we build be a Certified Passive Home, and to eventually have the National Construction Code change to not only accept Passive House efficiencies as an efficiency standard which can be substituted for the current NATHERS system, but adopt these standards into the upcoming NCC upgrades.
Q.5. How long have you been a member of APHA?
A little over 6 years now.
Brian was recently been interviewed and featured on a podcast for Passive House Accelerator through Matthew Cutler Welsh at Homestyle Green. Click here to listen to 'Passive House Podcast Ep 42: Brian Guinan, ISMART Building Group | Passive House Accelerator'.