This weekend I celebrated my 37th birthday. Don't be confused by the pavlova with the number '36' on it! That was my wife's idea of a joke as it was my last day of being 36.
If you've been reading my blog you will know that we want to create our very own energy efficient home. I decided to put a time limit on it, a target, to be inside this house before I turn 40 and it's a bizarre feeling to think that one of those years has been and gone.
Anyway I've come a long way in that time and I'd like to take a few moments to reflect on some highlights. Thanks to everyone who has helped advance my learning in some way, shape or form. There are definitely a lot of passionate people in ecological construction.
The Passivhaus Road Trip!
The first thing that springs to mind is producing the video inserts for the UK Passivhaus Awards 2013. Although this was disguised as work, it was an opportunity to see these ultra low energy buildings first hand and chat to the people who created them. All of these people were immensely proud of what they'd achieved and I got the sense that it would be hard for them to go back to building how they used to. This ‘no looking back' attitude is one of the reasons why I believe we will see steady growth in new-build houses that meet the Passivhaus standard.
I have sat through many talks over the last year and there was one given by Chris Parsons for the CIOB where the data was so compelling that I just thought to myself, this sells itself. This may be a terrible analogy but it's the only thing that comes to mind so bear with me. When my wife got her first iPhone, it was such a leap forwards from what she had before (or what any of our friends had had before) that I didn't even have to weigh up whether there were better options on the market. Getting one was an upgrade, a no-brainer. I think the same is true of Passivhaus. When you actually start researching it, considering the pros and cons, and experiencing houses that meet the standard, it is easy to see why the uptake is so great in countries such as Germany and Austria.
Amazing and Passionate People
Secondly, I've made some great friends. Not just amongst the AECB and the Passivhaus Trust but around the world. I feel particularly aligned with Matthew Cutler-Welsh from Home Style Green, who is championing better building in New Zealand. He makes a very good point that there are far more similarities in building around the world than there are differences. I know I probably say this a lot but online community is really important for ecological builders. It's hard to keep a good idea down on the Internet!
I've also been really encouraged by self builders who have contacted me to say that information on House Planning Help has been useful. This is music to my ears!
Creating Content Has Helped Me Learn
Over the last year I have built up my knowledge, mostly, from chatting to people! Having to curate that information onto this website has been a challenge at times, but there is no doubt that it's been worth it. Listening to interviews multiple times, making notes and proof-reading blog posts has really helped the information sink in. What's best is revisiting that information weeks or even months later and realising that I have a deeper understanding of the concepts that were being explained or perhaps even a first-time grasp of something I let go over my head!
Hearing the same messages such as ‘fabric first' crop up over and over again has been really constructive (when you're a forgetful person like me).
Currently I am working on an eBook to reference the learnings of this first year and I'm hoping this will be another valuable experience for both me and the community.
Proud of the Progress of House Planning Help
Setting up a website and podcast is not something I've done before but I had been learning about content marketing for a number of years. This was my chance to have a go with a topic that I am passionate about.
It's yet another area where I continue to learn, but when I compare my content from day one to today I can definitely see an improvement. I hope to keep taking this to the next level.
Over the year there's been a total of 16,425 podcasts downloaded. If you check out the statistics below you might notice an early blip in podcast downloads. This was when I released an interview with the eminent Professor Wolfgang Feist.
The website traffic has also built up so that now we are consistently getting about 1200 unique visitors to the site. Here's a snapshot from the last month from Google Analytics.
Of course it's easy to get tied up in website traffic and podcast downloads but my definite major purpose is to help spread the message of ecological builders. I feel everyone should know about better practices and approaches, even if they choose not to adopt them.
I'm Getting Excited About Year Two!
There you go. A couple of my highlights from the year gone by. I think it would only be fitting to finish with where I would like to go in the coming year. Quite simply, I want to do more of the same.
I want to improve the quality of the content I produce and also increase the quantity! I can only do this by bringing more money in. I may not be there yet but I'm going to keep at it.
It would also be great to see energy efficiency register as an important factor to consider when buying a house. Clearly, getting this into the mainstream is a bigger challenge, but something I am convinced will happen over time naturally; it would just be good to act as a catalyst.