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Designing the World’s First Passive House Car Dealership with Andrew Peel

The Passive House standard has been applied to some extraordinary building projects to date. From single family and high-rise residential to industrial and commercial buildings, building professionals have adopted the Passive House approach to improve occupant health and comfort, and reduce energy use (in some cases up to 90%!). That’s why when we heard about the world’s first certified Passive House car dealership, we knew we found our next podcast guest.

On this episode, Kelly chats with Andrew Peel from Peel Passive House Consulting to discuss one of his favorite (and most challenging) projects to date: a Passive House-certified Subaru dealership in Alberta, Canada.

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The Role of Heat Pumps in Low-Moderate Income Homes with Jon Harrod

The electrification of buildings is considered to be a primary strategy for reducing carbon emissions and kicking fossil fuels. Luckily, due to advancements in technology and carefully developed best practices, heat pumps may be a driving force in helping us to achieve our all-electric goals. But when do heat pumps make sense? As we know, there’s no one-size-fits-all application.

On this episode, Robb chats with Jon Harrod about the feasibility of heat pumps in low-moderate income homes. John shares some important factors to consider when evaluating heat pumps, such as construction type, geographic location, project financing, and more.

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A Framework for Equity and Buildings with Kathryn Wright

As building professionals and policymakers, it is our responsibility to integrate equity into our work. But how do we ensure equity is being addressed in a comprehensive manner? Fortunately, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has developed a framework for local government decision makers to serve as a guide for ensuring equity in the built environment.

On this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with USDN’s Program Director for Building Energy, Kathryn Wright. Kathryn summarizes some of the concepts and practices highlighted in the framework and explains how her personal experiences drove her to improve equity in buildings.

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(ENCORE) Why is Kitchen Ventilation So Important? With Dr. Iain Walker from LBNL

We first released this episode in April 2019. Since then, our topic of discussion with Iain has only become more relevant. We recently caught up with Iain and have some updates to share, which are reflected in the resources below and at the end of the episode. Enjoy!


When you fire on a stove-top burner, whether it is electric, gas, or convection, many byproducts are released. This increase in moisture, gas, and other particulates is not only detrimental to the health of a building, but dangerous for human health as well.

To advance our knowledge on this topic, we invited building scientist and ventilation expert, Dr. Iain Walker, from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Dr. Walker discusses strategies for controlling byproducts associated with cooking by focusing on kitchen ventilation.

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The Devil’s in the Details: Common Accessibility Oversights with Peter Stratton

With all of the moving parts during the design and construction of a building project, one wrong move can compromise accessibility compliance. Unintentional oversights are commonplace when project teams don’t realize the importance of accessibility compliance and how it can make or break a project’s success. In the end, the devil’s in the details.

On this episode, we welcome back SWA’s Managing Director of Accessibility Services, Peter Stratton. Peter describes the top ten oversights made by project teams during the design and construction phases that typically lead to noncompliance with accessibility requirements. Learn why they happen, and how they can be identified and avoided in your project!

Follow along with Peter’s list of accessibility oversights below:

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Healthy Buildings, Healthy Humans with Sarah Nugent

We think a lot about high-performance buildings – but what about the high-performance humans in those buildings?

As the future of office-dwelling is on everyone’s mind, there are a lot of questions surrounding how buildings can help or hinder human health and wellbeing. Tenants may be wondering what questions to ask building owners and building owners may be curious about what steps to take and which of the various healthy building toolkits to employ.

In this episode, Kelly chats with Sarah, Sustainability Director at SWA, about the intersection of health, wellness, and sustainability – or the “triple bottom line” in buildings, and why projects need to take a proactive, holistic approach to all three.

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Incorporating Home and Community in Senior Housing with Valerie Mutterperl

What role do designers, providers, and policymakers play in making senior living communities more vibrant and supportive for older adult residents? How do these spaces enhance the experience of those living, working, and visiting the residence?

In this month’s episode we chat with Valerie Mutterperl about her experience in senior living design, and the importance of community within senior living. With a growing aging population, and more families seeking senior housing solutions, these conversations are more important than ever.

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Building Comradery with Steven Winter

Comradery [käm-ˌra-d(ə-)rē] noun 1 A feeling of friendliness, goodwill, and familiarity among the people in a group.

At SWA, comradery is etched into our company principles – friendliness and community have been key parts of SWA’s business since the company was born. At the end of the day, we are all trying to make the world a more sustainable and equitable place. But what is the value in having close working relationships with colleagues, clients, and even competitors?

In this episode, we sit down with Steven Winter (yes, THE Steven Winter), to talk about comradery – both within SWA and the industry as a whole, and how it has helped us remain successful through day-to-day operations, major company transitions, and even a global pandemic.

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Electrification Nation with Laura Tajima

Cities across North America are paving the way for wide-spread building electrification. Although there are many benefits associated with going all-electric, there are also many barriers that stand in the way.

Building Electrification Institute acts as resource for cities in their equitable transition to building electrification through education, training, and program support. They work with 11 different cities, providing them with the necessary “tools in their toolbox” to ensure their buildings are as energy efficient, healthy, equitable, and cost effective as they need to be.

In this episode, our host Robb and guest Laura talk about electrification strategies, costs, and the importance of policy as it relates to building electrification and climate goals in cities.

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It’s Time to 86 Fossil Fuels in Commercial Kitchens with Chris Galarza

Imagine this: you’re a chef or cook in a high-stress commercial kitchen setting. You’re making split second decisions with little breathing room, and each quick decision can get you cut or burned. On top of that, you’re in over 100-degree heat, breathing in toxic air from your gas stovetop.

This is an experience Chris Galarza could relate to, from working as a professional chef in various commercial settings. After making the switch to an all-electric kitchen utilizing induction equipment at Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus (the World’s first fully self-sustained university campus), he witnessed the positive difference in the physical and mental health of himself and his staff. He now advocates for electric cooking being a much healthier, safer, cost-effective, and energy efficient option.

In this episode, Kelly and Chris talk through some electric-kitchen-myth-busting, and ultimately answer the question “is moving away from gas and fire in the kitchen really that radical an idea or does it just make perfect sense?”

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