Green News - Passive House
Monte Paulsen is a Certified Energy Advisor and an expert on passive house. At last week’s Buildex 2013 Trade Show, he shared a presentation called “Selling Sustainability: How to Profit from Green Home Certification.” To the left is a PDF of a slide showing the Saskatchewan Conservation House on the left, and the Rainbow Passive House in Whistler on the right. Below is a quote from a piece Paulsen wrote for Canadian Geographic magazine. The full URL is here: http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/jun12/ sustainable_homes2.asp His website is here: www.reddoorenergyadvisors.ca.
The Saskatchewan Conservation House was sold, the solar thermal collectors were scrapped, and a garage was added. Saskatchewan’s landmark high-performance home appeared headed for that uniquely Canadian dustbin where such promising inventions as the Avro Arrow and the TurboTrain are sent to die. The house may have been forgotten forever were it not for the interest of a quirky German physicist.
Wolfgang Feist studied the Saskatchewan house along with other early superinsulated homes in Denmark, Sweden and the United States. Feist then wrote a mathematically precise and elegantly simple formula for designing high-performance buildings. His standard sets two hard limits: airtightness must meet or exceed 0.6 ACH@50Pa, and total energy use for heating and cooling must not exceed 15 kilowatt hours (kWh) per square metre of floor area.
Feist and colleague Bo Adamson dubbed their formula the “Passivhaus” standard because these buildings were too well insulated to require an “active” furnace or boiler. Compared with conventional construction, most Passivhaus buildings reduce energy consumption by 80 to 90 percent. (The German word has since been anglicized to the less precise Passive House.)
The first Passivhaus building, a row of four townhouses in Darmstadt, Germany, was erected in 1991. Feist’s formula quickly went viral. Today, there 900 buildings certified to the Passivhaus standard and roughly 32,000 Passivhaus-type buildings. The greatest numbers are in Germany and Austria, while the rate of growth is faster in Belgium and the United Kingdom.
Canada’s first Passive House arrived in 2009. It was prefabricated in Austria and assembled in Whistler, B.C., for use by the Austrian Olympic Committee and Austrian Public Broadcasting during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Afterward, the Austrians donated the 250-squaremetre building to the municipality of Whistler for use as a cross-country ski lodge. The Lost Lake PassivHaus (formerly the Austria House) uses about one-tenth the energy of a similarly sized conventional building. That worked out to a heating cost of about $280 last year.
“Passive House is the most economical way to build today if the operational costs over many years are taken into the equation,” says Guido Wimmers, a director of the non-profit Canadian Passive House Institute, which trains architects and builders.
Across the valley from Whistler’s Lost Lake, stands the community’s second Passive House, a townhousestyle duplex that may be Canada’s most affordable high-performance home. The duplex is an international mash-up — a West Coast wood guy’s reinvention of an Austrian interpretation of a German formula based on the original Saskatchewan house.