I decide to cycle to Schiedam from the Hague as it’s just over 20km on nice flat flatness and mostly along a canal side. I get hopelessly lost in the Hague – partly because the directions Justin gives me are ‘Just get to the canal and then you can ride right down the side of that’. Hmmm…. problem being – which canal? When I finally find the right one (which is massive and was quite clearly THE canal) I’ve only 20 minutes to cycle the remaining 17km. So with that, and getting briefly lost in Delft and having to buy a map in Schiedam I’m well late by the time I roll up to Itho ventilation where I am met by Ton, Bas and Willem. In the UK Itho just do domestic heat recovery but over here they do whole house systems, integrated with heat pumps or solar thermal. We talk about the construction in Holland ‘Of domestic, that’s what we do, we know nothing about offices, don’t ask us’ they cheerfully tell me. They’ve chosen their market and they’re sticking to it and what they do know about, they know a lot. They have live monitoring of all their recent heat pump installations and show me a case on one which was running in cooling mode even in January. They thought this was a fault until they looked at the neighbours – all of whom had turned their heating up to 24 degrees. Conclusion? Thermal insulation between dwellings, not just acoustic.
After an informative couple of hours Bas helps me work out train times for the meetings he’s set up with me for the next couple of days with a passivhaus architect in Belgium and a housing association and Willem gives me a 2015 calander. They had them made to send to people as a reminder that the building regulations then will mean whole house ventilation becomes a necessity (code level four looms equally for us). ‘It’s to say – if you just want to build to the regulations don’t talk to us now, but come and talk to us in 2015’ he explains.
They’re concerned about me cycling back, possibly getting lost again and in the dark but I assure them that I know the way now and that we have dark in Manchester. I am rewarded by a bright orange and pink sunset on one side of the canal and a rainbow on the other. I do get lost, several times but I still find my way home past a Chinese takeaway where I order too much food without knowing what it is I’m ordering and eat it too quickly with a growling stomach and nicely aching legs.