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February 19, 2014

Passive House exhibit touts energy efficient construction

Buildex Vancouver feature

BRADLEY FEHR

The first certified Passive House building in Canada was Austria House in Whistler, B.C., which was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It has since been converted into a tourism centre.

Buildex Vancouver 2014 organizers say the annual trade show will have more than 600 exhibits this year.

One of the first-time exhibitors is the Passive House Pavilion.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Canadian Passive House Institute (CanPHI), which promotes energy-efficient Passive House building standards.

“The Passive House approach to construction is an ambitious response to global climate change and energy security issues,” said CanPHI board member Rob Bernhardt.

“Passive House is a science-based and economically-driven international building standard, whose purpose is to optimize building performance. Compared to conventional Canadian construction practices, Passive House can deliver energy savings of between 80 and 90 per cent.”

He said Passive House principles apply to all buildings, whatever their volume, height or purpose.

“Passive House is a literal translation from German, the language in which the principles were developed and first promoted.

“The concept is to invest in the design and building envelope up-front in order to save building and operating costs later on,” Bernhardt said.

It’s easier to achieve Passive House standards in a larger structure because it has a smaller envelope area relative to the enclosed building volume.

“Compared to other building standards, using Passive House you can produce a building with reduced envelope area and a simplified mechanical system,” he said.

Passive House is foundational and complementary to other building standards.

“If you begin with Passive House, it’s easier to achieve LEED or net-zero status,” Bernhardt said. “In fact, its energy efficiency standards are higher than the others.”

The added cost of building to Passive House performance standards depends on such factors as climate, the type of building and the availability of high-quality building components.

Cost-effectiveness depends on the local price of energy and local building energy standards.

Bernhardt said the extra cost of building a Passive House in Canada is about 10 per cent, assuming that the builder has some experience and training in that type of construction.

Passive House design principles are scientific and rigorous.

BRADLEY FEHR

More than 40,000 Passive House units have been built in more than 35 different countries.

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