It was appropriately hot and humid in Tokyo last month for the 2nd Passive House Asia Conference, hosted by Passive House Japan in Ito Hall at the University of Tokyo. The theme of the conference was ‘Passive House and Humid Summer’, and there was extensive discussion about managing heat, humidity and expectations of occupant comfort in environments that also experience the opposite extreme of cold, dry winters.

Dr Jürgen Schieders from the Passivhaus Insititut gave the keynote speech, in which he discussed human expectations of comfort as they relate to heat and humidity, and how these relate to the PH standard as it has developed over time to accommodate the full range of climates. He also discussed possible solutions to the challenge of dehumidification in a PH building (where the sensible cooling load is relatively low), including the promise of recently developed mini-split systems. He concluded with several examples demonstrating that PH works as expected in warm and humid climates.

Zhengiejie Yu and Zhen Yu from the China Academy of Building Research gave an overview of PH uptake in China, especially as a methodology with which to work towards nett zero energy buildings. From their presentation it appears that the pace and scale of development in China is quite astonishing, with several huge projects under way and a national target for at least 10 million square metres of ultra-low energy buildings by 2020. They concluded by stating that Passive House is an opportunity to refine the products and technology of the construction industry in China.

Yoon-boum Cho from the Institute for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Architecture (ESSA) at Ajou University gave a briefing on PH in South Korea. Particularly interesting was a discussion of traditional methods of achieving thermal comfort in ‘hanok’ houses, and the presentation of some beautiful new projects including the Lohas Academy / Pulmuone Passive House, a residential seminar facility in Goesan.

Shih-Chieh Yeh of BWK Green Architecture in Taiwan returned to the theme of humidity and occupant comfort, with a particular focus on existing buildings. He gave a detailed overview of an excellent EnerPHit retrofit of an existing apartment in Taipei, which had previously experienced extensive problems with stale air and mould growth.

Xie Yuanjian from the Passive House Alliance of China gave a more detailed overview of low energy building targets in different regions of China, and talked at length about the ‘Bruck’ Apartment Hotel.

Miwa Mori of Passive House Japan and Key Architects discussed the psychometric chart and the possibility of different comfort expectations in different climatic regions. She praised PHPP for correctly identifying (unlike other modelling software) that opening windows overnight in a Tokyo summer would increase the cooling load due to the dehumidification requirement. And she introduced a number of Passive House, PHI Low Energy Building, and EnerPHit projects in Japan. One of these – the Tochoji Bunyukaku in Shinjuku (pictured above) – served as the venue for an evening reception. It was quite amazing to see a seismically isolated, heavily overshadowed five-storey temple annex achieve both strict low energy certification and a striking architectural presence under such constraints.

Finally, Sven Ring of WFP Architekten kicked off a panel discussion by introducing the Passive House Technical Experience Centre, built as part of the Sino/German Ecopark in Qingdao, China.

Overall it was fantastic to see a sold-out crowd, and so much activity and interest in the PH standard across a wide range of climates in Asia. Special thanks to Miwa Mori and Passive House Japan for a great program. We look forward to all the updates from the 3rd Passive House Asia Conference – to be held in Seoul in 2018. Details will be shared on the APHA website once they are confirmed.

by Jim Stewart – architect, CPHD and past APHA board member, who has recently been living in Tokyo.