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Posted: 2018-12-06 13:20:24

It really isn't necessary but it sure is a lot of fun. I am conflicted.

The Passivhaus movement is growing all over the world, and the people behind Passivhaus Portugal are very active, running a conference every year in Aveiro, a small city between Lisbon and Porto. I did a presentation by video last year which was evidently well received, and this year they asked me to come in person.

I did so knowing that it was silly, putting big heavy cement overshoes on my carbon footprint to speak at a conference about reducing our carbon footprint. But there is something about meeting people in person, and I had never been to Portugal.

high speed train in PortoHigh speed electric train arriving in Porto/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

It got still sillier when I flew Easyjet from London to Porto, paying less for the fare on a two-hour plane ride than I did for a two-hour train ride from Aveiro to Lisbon.

CestariaCestaria is the one in the middle/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I loved Portugal. The food was wonderful, the people are friendly and warm, the cities are models of walkability, and did I mention the food? I loved running along the beach in Costa Nova, (and staying in a Passivhaus) and climbing the stairs in Lisbon.

Lloyd talking© Hugo Cunha via twitter

Having participated two years in a row in the Passivhaus Portugal conference, I can attest that being there and meeting everyone and seeing the other presentations is a whole lot better than phoning it in. I learned a lot, made some great connections and came back refreshed, excited and intellectually stimulated.

But I can't help feeling that it was an illicit pleasure, that I can't justify the carbon footprint, particularly given the topic being discussed at the conference. This, while I am trying to decide about going to next year's Passivhaus conference in China! Is it better to go, to learn, to talk, to exchange ideas, or should I stay home? But I have submitted an abstract for the China conference and if it is accepted, will be presenting a paper. Is this not too great an opportunity

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