Looking for some new books or opportunities to build your knowledge base in zero energy buildings? Marc Rosenbaum, instructor of How to Think About Energy in Buildings course, shares his ideas for expanding your knowledge in the field of building science. You can tune into the video or read the transcript below.

Brit: What are some of the conferences and books to read for people who are excited about becoming a generalist like you? 

Marc: Bill Maclay is an architect in Waitsfield, Vermont, who’s been at this as long as me and he’s got a book on zero energy buildings [titled The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future]. That’s a great overview because to get a zero energy building, you have to be good at enclosures, systems, and renewables. 

I am a New Englander, so I have some biases, but I think that the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) is really one of the oldest organizations in the country that has been focused on solar and on energy.

They host two annual conferences now. There’s one in Boston, which is the flagship, and one in New York City, which has been great because of the building types. New York City has more urban building types – the real urban building types. 

They have branched out and one of the great things that NESEA has been doing is pro tours. They find a project and the people responsible for the project are going to be there. Then, a certain number of people walk through the project and learn about it. 

People regionally have to find out where things are in their region. 

Nationally, the Passive House Institute of the US (Phius) has really pushed things forward. Their conference is terrific. They’ve continued to broaden as well as deepen. I think that’s definitely worth going to.

I don’t know, like if you were from the Southwest, what’s going on out there. I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff in California. There are Passive House Institute of the US chapters around the US. Passive House Mass, for instance, is quite active. Passive House Maine is pretty active. So again, I know the New Englanders. 

I think getting into a community of practitioners is important. It’s not only important, but it’s a great benefit. Some of my best friends are people I’ve met through this work over the years. It’s just been a great community because when you’re with a bunch of people who really want to make the world better, as opposed to make the most money or have the most power, it’s just very rewarding.

Again, I’m a regionalist. I have never tried to work really out of the Northeast, particularly New England. That’s because it takes a long time to understand – really understand – a place and really understand a climate. Even moving from west central New Hampshire 12 years ago to Martha’s Vineyard, it’s different. So, that was a whole learning [experience] as well. 

It’s hard to be an expert across the US, all the different climate zones. So find who’s doing inspiring work, read the magazines, read the online things, and [find out] who’s doing stuff that is the kind of stuff you want to do in your area. That’s how I point people, because I don’t know who that person is in Santa Fe, but I know they’re there.