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the high-performance housing magazine

FALL 2015

passive house

special issue an architect’s perspective Merging design with rigorous detailing

modern prefab Meeting the Standard on a difficult site

north park murb New project makes case for affordability

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The national source of information on Canadian sustainable high-performance homebuilding in partnership with www.ecohome.net.

FALL 2015 6

What is Passive House? The world’s most energy-efficient building design explained

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News and products

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Passive House: What’s in it for homeowners?

1o COTTONWOOD house

Passive House passes cold-climate test

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Passive House on the Lake A modern interpretation in prefab on a difficult site

22 The North Park Passive House

First PH MURB on Vancouver Island makes case for affordability

28 The Salus Clementine project A learning experience in thermal bridging solutions

30 Passive House Design: An Architect’s Perspective

SEE MORE at • www.sabmagazine.com u click on ecoHouse Canada

• www.ECOHOME.NET

Cover: Passive House on the Lake. Photo: David McColm Photography

ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015

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ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015


A sister publication of:

Message from the publisher

Publishing Partners:

It’s time for Passive House Two years ago we published a special

Canada Green Building Council

Passive House issue in support of the first Passive House North Conference in Vancouver. Now we’re doing it again with this issue of ecoHouse which coincides with an even larger Photo: Roy Grogan

VISIT www.sabmagazine.com for our Product Directory

event – the North American Passive House Network [NAPHN] conference in Vancouver, October 1 and 2.

The Conference brings together key stakeholders of the Passive Publisher Don Griffith 800-520-6281, ext. 304, dgriffith@sabmagazine.com

House sector in North America as well as from other parts of the

MARKETING MANAGER Denis Manseau 800-520-6281, ext. 303; dmanseau@sabmagazine.com

cepts, along with seminars on subjects such as the new PHPP 9, 3D

Graphic Design Carine De Pauw 819-778-5040, ext. 308, cdepauw@sabmagazine.com

intermediate levels.

Senior Account Manager Patricia Abbas 416-438-7609, pabbas8@gmail.com

has a larger, more lasting purpose as a public record to describe the

editorial advisors • Tom Knezic, M.ARCH., LEED AP, OAA Solares Architecture Inc., www.solares.ca • Roy Nandram, LEED AP, RND Construction, www.rndconstruction.ca • Mike Reynolds, LEED AP-Homes, ecohome.net

and to explain that it does not cost more, but actually saves money.

world. Top-class speakers will present the latest projects and contool design, and more general topics for those at the novice and This special Passive House issue supports the conference but also concept of Passive House, show examples of how it is being applied, Achieving the rigid energy efficiency and air tightness goals of Passive House also draws in other products, apart from the obvious ones of insulation and high-performance windows and doors. These include products that are durable, contribute to high indoor air quality, are energy conserving [through appropriately-sized HVAC equip-

Published by:

media + marketing communications

ment], and are energy generating [through solar and geothermal]. And let’s be clear that, as demonstrated by the success and track record of Passive House in Germany, home of the Passive House

81 Leduc Street | Gatineau Qc | J8X 3A7 | T 819 778 5040

Institute, this advanced building method is for all types of build-

www.janam.net

ings, large and small. Large-scale Passive House buildings are being planned in the U.S. and Canada, and we show examples of two multiunit residential projects – North Park in Victoria and Salus Clementine

Subscription/address changes: ecohouse@sabmagazine.com, 800-520-6281, ext. 304 Subscription prices 1 year [4 issues] 2 years [8 issues] 3 years [12 issues]

Canada: [Taxes extra] PRINT DIGITAL $17.95 $12.95 $31.95 $21.95 $45.95 $31.95

in Ottawa – in this issue.. There has been concern expressed that wide-spread adoption of Passive House will lead to standardized, uniform-looking, even boring, buildings. One could argue that we are mostly already there anyway but, that aside, architects are creative and once committed to Passive House will find ways to merge pleasing architectural design with the rigorous performance goals of Passive House. It’s already happening.

ISSN 1920-6259 Copyright by Janam Publications Inc. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. Views expressed are those of the authors exclusively.

- Don Griffith, Publisher

Publication Mail Agreement #40024961 Return undelivered Canadian address mail to: Janam Publications Inc., 81 Leduc St., Gatineau, Qc J8X 3A7 The print version of ecoHouse Canada uses a 100% post-consumer fiber that is certified FSC and EcoLogo. It is processed chlorine-free, FSC-recycled and is manufactured using biogas energy.

Please forward comments, article ideas and project contributions to: Don Griffith, Publisher dgriffith@sabmagazine.com - 1 800 520 6281 ext.304

Environmental savings for this issue:

FSC logo

14 Trees

52,769 litres water

799 kg waste

2,078 kg CO2 ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015

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What is

Passive House? The world’s most energy-efficient building design explained BY Rob Bernhardt

Smart Made Simple

Solid Science

A Passive House requires up to 90% less heating or cooling

The building science behind Passive House started in the late 1970s, was

energy than an average building, yet the techniques employed

further developed in Germany in the 80s and continues to be refined as

are remarkably simple.

technology, energy supply systems and experience advance.

Careful design, integrated with a detailed building energy

The standard consists of a set of objectively verifiable performance criteria

model, creates a simple, high quality building envelope which

delivering the comfort, air quality, energy efficiency and affordability

does most of the work. By focusing on the envelope, complex

Passive House is known for. The required level of technical stringency may

mechanical heating and cooling systems can be replaced

be challenging for some but with over 40,000 Passive House buildings

with simple but efficient ventilation and heating. The building

worldwide, it is clear the science works in any climate.

envelope ensures stable interior temperatures with a small boost when heating or cooling is required. Simple but highly

A Modest Name

efficient heat recovery ventilation then provides a continuous

There is no such thing as a typical Passive House and while the criteria may

supply of fresh air throughout.

be stringent, the concept is versatile and can be adapted to all climates and building types. There are Passive House high-rise buildings, social

Thermal comfort

housing, apartment buildings, hotels, schools and even supermarkets!

Though heat loss is minimized, three heat sources keep

Older buildings are benefiting from deep energy retrofits using Passive

interior temperatures constant and comfortable in winter.

House “EnerPHit” guidelines that transform the performance and comfort.

Heat gains from daily living such as cooking, hot water and appliances are the first contributors. The solar heat gain from

Not Just For Energy Geeks

south-facing windows augments that heat and will often

Thanks to the growing number of projects across Canada, media

provide all the warmth required on sunny winter days. A small

attention and the public policy imperative to address climate change, the

heat pump or electric resistance heater provides a third source

term “Passive House” is no longer confined to conversations between

of heat, if needed.

sustainability enthusiasts.

Summer cooling relies on the same elements as winter

With minimized energy requirements Passive Houses are shielded from the

heating. The building envelope keeps summer heat out and

impact of rising energy prices and resilient when faced with disruptions

windows are shaded from the sun. If the home is cooled

in the energy supply, which is attractive for homeowners, developers

overnight, interior temperatures stay comfortable during

and governments alike. Passive House stands out by offering a real,

the day. Many Canadian climates do not require mechanical

measurable and affordable solution to reduce energy demand radically in

cooling in a Passive House.

the built environment.

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By Rob Bernhardt. President, CanPHI West.

Above: Photos of the Naugler, Bernhardt and Rainbow Passive Houses featured in the Fall 2013 issue for ecoHouse. http://sabmagazine.com/ecoHousefall2013.html

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news

Enhanced Passive House planning tool released English version of PHPP 9 to be presented at NAPHN Conference in Vancouver The tried and tested Passive House Planning Package [PHPP] tool for designing energy efficient buildings is available in a brand-new version: PHPP 9. This upgrade not only allows reliable calculation of the energy demand in accordance with internationally applicable criteria, it also takes into account energy generation on or near the building. Over the past few months, a German edition of the PHPP 9 has already been successfully used in practice; the English version will be presented for the first time at the NAPHN North American Passive House conference, to be held from October 1 and 2, 2015 in Vancouver. New features in the PHPP include innovative options such as heat recovery from shower water. Different options for a particular measure can now be entered in one PHPP file and tested with reference to their respective effects. In this way it is possible to determine improvement in efficiency from individual refurbishment steps. Due to its high accuracy in energy balance calculation, the PHPP is perfectly suitable for planning nearly zero- or net zero-energy buildings. The user handbook not only offers a description on how to use the tool, but also acts as a guide to design working Passive House buildings.

New residential IAQ guideline brings changes for use of high-efficiency filters With recent research showing that ultrafine particles are more hazardous to human health than originally thought, higher-efficiency filters should be used, according to the newly published 2015 version of ASHRAE’s residential indoor air quality guideline. Guideline 24-2015, Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, provides information on achieving good indoor air quality [IAQ] that goes beyond the requirements contained in Standard 62.2, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, by providing explanatory and educational material not included in the code-intended standard. Guideline 24 is the companion document to Standard 62.2. “In the 2008 version, we indicated that if a lot of ultrafine particles were expected, higher-efficiency filters should be considered.

Subscribe to ecoHouse digital Readers can now subscribe to and access the ecoHouse Canada digital versions on their phones and tablets through iTunes, Pocketmags or Google Play. ecoHouse Canada covers high-performance housing and related products for healthier and much more energy-efficient living in one of the toughest climates in the world. High-performance housing is making great strides, and ecoHouse Canada will keep you in the know. Consider subscribing now … iTunes: http://apple.co/1QmCaqw Pocketmags: http://bit.ly/1W7W2l1 Google Play: http://bit.ly/1FRGXKX

Period,” Paul Francisco, chair of the Guideline 62.2 committee, said. “Now we say a lot more. We cite research that shows that ultrafine particles are a much more significant concern, and we state explicitly that higherefficiency filters mean MERV 13 or higher.” Multistage particle filtration [a relatively coarse filter followed by a high-efficiency filter] can help filter out different sized particles without overloading the higher-efficiency filters. When selecting filters, consideration should be given to the effects of the filter’s pressure drop on delivered airflow, fan capacity and energy use. www.ashrae.org/news

Video Building Guide of high-performance Demo House launched

It covers slab-on-grade construction with in-floor radiant heating, a vegetated roof, heat pumps and HRVs, window selection and installation, building an envelope that is highly insulated and air tight, interior finishing, and more. The videos are only a few minutes each, and can be seen here: http://www.ecohome. net/video/guide. We thank our product sponsors: Roxul, W.R. Meadows, Kott Lumber, Uponor, Ecogenia/Lunos, CGC, Fantech, Delta [Cosella Dorken], Mitsubishi Electric Canada, American Standard, Benjamin Moore, A.O. Smith, Riopel, Columbia Forest Products, Les Fenêtres Élite Inc., Logsend, Cosentino Canada, Glendyne, Isocork Canada, Rainfresher, Bostik, Aeratron and Philips.

Winning residential design team of the Canadian Green Building Awards recognized

The high-performance Demonstration House Our web affiliate, www.ecohome.net, has released the first 11 productions of a 20-part Video Building Guide series covering the building techniques, products and technologies of a high-performance Demonstration House which is designed to achieve LEED Platinum. The Guide makes a fantastic visual resource for design and construction professionals, and homeowners.

Chris Phillips [left] and Steven Gray of Greening Homes Ltd. receive their Award certificate for the winning residential project, the Beechwood Deep Energy Retrofit in Toronto, from Nadine Gudz representing sponsor Interface.

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Passive House: What’s in it for homeowners? For the environmentally conscious, extremely high energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint may be reason enough to make the next home move or build a Passive House. However, Passive House has more to offer than the satisfaction of knowing your living space is contributing to a greener built environment.

By Katie Shellard

COMFORT When you walk into a Passive House the thermal comfort is immediately apparent, and becomes more so when you sit near windows or walk around barefoot. Measurements taken on Germany’s first Passive House over 20 years ago showed that even when temperatures fell to -14°C, temperatures inside remained above 20° C without the use of a conventional heating system. In fact the heating demand was so low that two 75Watt light bulbs would have been enough to heat a 20m2 room! Such achievements are due to the quality of the building envelope, thick walls, insulation and high-grade components such as windows and doors, which keep the cold or hot air out, and occupants comfortable. A heat recovery ventilation [HRV] system ensures a continual flow of fresh air, delivering superior air quality to most standard buildings while helping maintain a comfortable temperature. Passive House residents can enjoy a draft-free home with more useable space but it is perhaps the affordability aspect that is most surprising and appealing for prospective buyers. COST Drastically reduced heating and cooling energy demands mean exceptionally low energy bills. At North Park Passive House [see p.22],

the Bernhardt passive house was published in the fall 2013 issue of ecohouse canada, http://sabmagazine.com/ecoHousefall2013.html

a six-unit strata in Victoria, BC, monthly energy cost per two-bedroom, 850 ft2 suite is estimated at $15-$20/month, a saving of approximately $1,000/year. Not only do the high quality components last longer and require less maintenance, the building as a whole is more durable.

The City of Vancouver is a known leader in green building and will soon have a large number of Passive House projects,

But don’t high quality components cost more? Yes, and the

including a six storey apartment building and single-family

construction costs of a Passive House are slightly higher than a

houses. The landscape of the construction industry is changing

conventional building [approximately 3% higher according to a recent

and evolving building codes are placing increasing emphasis on

study in Victoria, BC] however the lower operating costs give financial

energy efficiency, so a Passive House is not only resilient against

payback to owners in the first month. Such economical and energy

rising energy prices but will hold value.

efficiency makes Passive House the obvious choice for affordable housing projects and family homes.

For those wanting to know more, education is available for both building professionals and the general public in many

CLIMATE READY

locations across Canada and online [see www.canphi.ca]. There

A European study revealed that buildings account for 40% of energy

are Certified Passive House Designers and Consultants to assist in

consumption and residential use makes up 63% of this total. Passive

delivering projects.

House is being recognized as a key tool to reduce energy emissions and progressive local governments often encourage Passive House

The climate is right for Passive House.

projects as a means of meeting their climate change objectives.

Katie Shellard is Communications Manager at CanPHI West.

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news The eight winning design and client teams of the 2015 Canadian Green Building Awards were presented their certificates by Awards sponsors Interface, the Canadian Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute and Uponor at the Canada Green Building Council [CaGBC] national conference in Vancouver on June 2. Among the winners was the Beechwood Deep Green Retrofit in Toronto by Greening Homes Ltd., a renovation of a 1950s home designed using Passive House strategies that achieved an air tightness of of 0.44 ACH @50Pa. Details: http://sabmagazine. com/2015awardwinningprojects.html For information on the 2016 Canadian Green Building Awards: http://sabmagazine. com/schedule.html.

Monitoring confirms energy efficiency of Passive House city district

The Passive House district of Bahnstadt According to the Passive House Institute, the Passive House district of Bahnstadt in Heidelberg, Germany has passed the energyefficiency test: the average consumption of 1,260 housing units with a total living area of more than 75,000 m2 was 14.9 kWh/[m2a] - a savings of about 80 % compared to regular construction. The statistically high number of residential projects built by different property developers and architects convincingly shows that a successful large-scale implementation of the Passive House Standard is possible. The measurements were carried out on the basis of monthly metre readings of the total heat consumption in several blocks with over a hundred apartments in each. An average heating energy consumption lower than the Passive House limit value of 15 kWh/[m2a] was measured in the process. The consumption data showed consistently high conformity with the demand calculated in advance using the Passive House Planning Package [PHPP]. The Bahnstadt Passive House district has been created on the grounds of a former freight railway station and makes a vibrant mix of residential and commercial buildings

 covering 116 hectares. Once it is entirely developed, up to 12,000 people will be living and working in the new city district.

Passive House tour will show the buildings of the future

The International Passive House Days tours Low-cost, comfortable, sustainable – that’s the future of the buildings of tomorrow. During the International Passive House Days from 13 to 15 November, everyone will be able to see how this concept is already working, when several hundreds of built examples will be open for viewing. Experts will demonstrate how Passive House buildings function, while residents will talk about their experiences. An overview of the Passive House buildings participating in the Passive House Days event in individual cities and regions around the world can be found on the website www. passivehouse-database.org. Offices and school buildings will also be opening their doors to the public. “During visits, everyone will be able to see for themselves that a Passive House not only saves energy but also provides substantially high levels of comfort and air quality at the same time”, says Amina Lang from the International Passive House Association. The event is an initiative of the International Passive House Association iPHA, in cooperation with its affiliates in their respective countries.

PRODUCTS New log design makes log building more energy efficient Log homebuilding company 1867 Confederation Log and Timber Frame has

launched the EEE Log [engineered energy efficient log] which has more than double the “R” value compared to natural wood. “With an R value of 26.5 the EEE Log is more energy efficient than traditional log homes and most new stick frame homes,” says Rick Kinsman, president of 1867 Confederation.

The EEE Log at right The manufactured parts are formed with a combination of solid laminated outside wood [four sides] harvested from sustainably-managed Ontario forests, and high-density foam in the centre that contributes to the superior insulation qualities. EEE logs won’t shrink and cost about 10% more than conventional logs, but more than pay for themselves with the resulting energy savings. www.confederationloghomes.com

New residential split systems meet 2015 efficiency standards, offer energy savings of 29 %

The new Champion residential heating and air-conditioning split systems from Johnson Controls have efficient operation and are easy for contractors to install. Johnson Controls invested more than 125,000 hours of research, and testing which included five years of accelerated field testing, extreme weather testing and salt spray testing to measure material corrosion, performance and durability. The result is a family of air conditioners, heat pumps, gas furnaces and air handlers. www.johnsoncontrols.com

ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015

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COTTONWOOD Passive House passes cold-climate test

HOUSE

1 “The Cottonwood Passive House during the late stages of construction. Primary living spaces with generous glazed openings are organized around the southern exposures to maximize winter-time solar gains.

The Cottonwood Passive House is one of the first homes in Alberta built to the Passive House standard. Located in a developer subdivision, the owners and project team hope to demonstrate that exceptional energy efficiency is a realistic and achievable goal, even in a suburban context. BY David Zeibin

The project began in early 2011 when Jim and Emilie fielded the idea of a net-zero house. Having lived in various cold-climate communities across the western provinces [including Fort St. John, BC and Rainbow Lake, AB] during a career as a chemical engineer, Jim was tired of living in cold, drafty houses and was conscious of the quantity of energy used by single-family residences. Unsure about the possibility of needing to install a large photovoltaic array in a net-zero scenario, I suggested they look into the German Passive House standard as a first step toward the similar requirements of a net-zero effort: super-insulation, extreme airtightness, high quality windows and doors, and so on. At the time, Passive House was quite new in Canada, with only

The Cottonwood Passive House sits on a sloping site at the edge of

about four projects underway across the country and the newly

Fort Saskatchewan, north east of Edmonton, enjoying views toward the

formed Canadian Passive House Institute [CanPHI] just beginning

North Saskatchewan River valley. Designed as a retirement home for my

to offer formal training. Jim and I attended CanPHI’s five-day/40-

parents, Jim and Emilie Zeibin, the house can function on one level, with

hour intensive training course in October 2011, while initial

amenities such as main-floor laundry and a large, elevated deck.

planning and concept design started around the same time.

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Passive House

on the Lake

A modern interpretation in prefab on a difficult site The objective of the design for this lakeside home was to create a modern interpretation of the Passive House. The clients wanted to meet the Standard without having to compromise on design. Preliminary discussions were focused on typical planning and programming within the home given some very difficult site constraints. The topography and compact nature of the site were a huge challenge. The waterfront site slopes sharply down to the east with panoramic views out over the lake and mountains across the valley. By Lydia hunter

1

North elevation

South elevation

View of the Boat House and Main House from the Lake.

East elevation

West elevation

ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015

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1 North Park Passive House, 860 Queens Ave., Victoria [1].

Project CREDITS Architect HCMA Architecture + Design Construction Bernhardt Contracting Photos Ryan Hamilton materials Wood-frame construction with ICF foundation and EPS insulation under slab, mineral wool and cellulose insulation. Exterior window shades, and PV array on roof. HRV is a Zehnder Novus 300, and Zehnder. Windows by EuroLine.

Site plan

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The North Park Passive House

First PH MURB on Vancouver Island makes case for affordability Building the first Passive house on Vancouver Island, a duplex shared with our son Mark’s family, convinced us that the market in Victoria was ready for Passive House market condominiums. To follow through we built the North Park Passive house, a six-unit urban infill market condominium.

By Rob Bernhardt

With little marketing budget the project sold out quickly in the Spring of 2015 prior to completion, and generated a long list of potential buyers of future projects. The two-bedroom residences average 825 sq. ft. and were priced from $295,000 to $350,000 per unit. HCMA Architecture designed the North Park Passive House to combine the context of the existing neighbourhood and Passive House principles. Details give a modern flare to the aesthetic while achieving the highest energy efficiency on the globe. Deep-set windows and doors are a result of wall thickness and, simply through their inherent quality, have a strong, permanent feel, with detailing and shadow lines arising naturally from the thicker walls and substantial windows. Contemporary detailing such as vertical slats on the sides of the balconies and horizontal slats on the sliding bike storage doors distinguish the residences as modern. Accent colour on the front doors, clear finish cedar siding on the walls, and soffits focus the eye and bring attention to these

entrances, signaling that

‘neighbours live here’. The project provides a benchmark for future developments by showing what can be achieved with high quality residences designed within their architectural, urban and environmental context. Tomorrow’s buildings will offer amazing comfort, be built to last, have ultra-low energy usage, healthy indoor air, beautiful design and long-term affordability. These are the qualities we have come to expect living a Passive House.

2

Moreover, Passive House construction can easily incorporate elements of sustainability in materials and renewable energy. The North Park Passive House, for example, uses

space allocated for vegetable gardens [2].

rock wool and dense pack cellulose as sustainable insulation materials, and the engineered hardwood floors are FSC certified, while the solid surface countertops are made from recycled glass.

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canadian diRectoRY

of SuStainabLe and

pRoductS SeRviceS

YouR quick-RefeRence ReSouRce Visit our on-line Directory to see hundreds of listings of companies which supply products and services for sustainable, highperformance building.

Companies are listed by Product Category and by LEED Category in cases where they have products which can potentially help a project earn LEED points.

Among the listings are our partners – listed below – who are briefly described in the Directory and linked to their web sites for more detailed information.

http://sabmagazine.com/product-directory.html our partners Site | LandScaping | RainwateR haRveSting >Wishbone Industries Ltd.

StRuctuRe & exteRioR enveLope >Alumicor Building Excellence >Dryvit Systems Canada >Firestone Building Products >Liveroof Ontario Inc. >N.A.T.S. Nursery Ltd. >Stonerox >Tremco

theRmaL & windowS >Clearstream Architectural Glass >Demilec: Heatlok Soya, PolarFoam Soya >Fraser Shading Systems Inc. >Icynene Insulation >Inline Fiberglass Ltd. >Pollard Windows >UNILUX Windows and Doors >Velux

inteRioR finiSheS >CBR Products >Forbo Linoleum Inc. >Interface >Keilhauer >Mapei >Nora Systems, Inc. >Olympia Tile International Inc. >Portes Baillargeon Doors Inc. >Tate Access Floors >Tectum Acoustical Roof Deck, Wall and Ceiling Panels

>Sloan Valve >Taco >Tate Access Floors >Viessmann Manufacturing Company Inc. >Zehnder America Incorporated

gReen deSign SuppoRt + pRofeSSionaLS

>Architek SBP Inc. >Cement Association of Canada >Cornerstone Architecture >Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute eLectRicaL | pLumbing | >CSA Group hvac | RenewabLeS >Diamond Schmitt Architects >Acuity Brands >EcoAmmo Sustainable >Bullfrog Power Inc. Consulting Inc. >Canplas >FABRIQ architecture >Cristal Controls >Homesol Building Solutions Inc. >Duravit >MetroCan Construction Ltd. >GE Industrial >Morrison Hershfield >GE Lighting >Read Jones Christoffersen >Marathon International/Baxi >Sweeny&Company Architects Inc. >Marathon International/Eternal >WSP Global Inc. >Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada Inc.

watch for the 2015/16 canadian directory of Sustainable products and Services in the next winter 2015/16 issue of Sabmag. ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015

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The Salus Clementine project Another option was the Passive House [PHI] certified MCon system from Germany which cleverly creates a truss layer through the insulation layer to support the cladding, but the contractor became convinced that the cost and novelty were too risky for this project. CSV settled on an external structurally insulated panel system [SIPS] attached over the building frame to provide a composite of insulation and cladding support with integral air and vapour control in the oriented strand board [OSB] faces. The 11-7/8” I-joists spaced at 24” in the panel provided the needed insulation depth. Although there is some structural redundancy between the SIPS panels and the building frame, it was determined that for this four-storey building and Ottawa’s seismic conditions, it was a good approach. Although the SIPS worked well in the field of the exterior wall, our design analysis indicated weak spots at corners, openings, penetrations, and especially at key

A learning experience in thermal bridging solutions

places where the parking and garbage room projected

The Salus Clementine development consists of a four-storey apartment building in Ottawa offering 42 single-occupancy units for men and women living with severe mental illness. The project is targeting LEED for Homes Platinum Certification as well as Passive House Certification, the most stringent energy efficiency standard in the world. The project is currently under construction.

and soffit, column penetrations, fire-rated assembly

By Sonia Zouari and anthony leaning

Although the decision to use a tray foundation slab

into the building form. Every connection between wall junctions, created a different challenge, and required THERM modelling to map weaknesses in the thermal, air and vapour control layers, and to ensure that the dew point was kept outside of the structure. Some of the solutions included Fabreeka thermal bearing pads and stainless steel fasteners between structural members, and aerogel insulation where available insulation depth was minimal.

eliminated footings, simplified the underslab insulation, and led to quicker construction, there were some places The client choose to build a highly efficient building to lower operational costs so

where it had to extend beyond the foundation walls above

that funds can be reinvested into programming. In addition to overall savings in

to carry the seismic brace frame above. These extensions

maintenance costs, sustainably-built environments provide healthy spaces in which

became thermal bridges in spite of being wrapped in

to work, and reside.

insulation on all sides, and although they contributed only about 0.1% of the total heat loss, these are the small

The Salus Clementine project is light steel frame, so during the design stage it

increments that affect Passive House compliance.

became clear very early on that one of the key aspects needing careful attention was thermal bridging through the envelope. Although the building assemblies and

Windows and doors contribute to some of the greatest

form were deliberately simplified to reduce complicated junctions and corners, even

thermal losses in the envelope. Balancing the occupant’s

the smallest irregularities created challenges for the design team. Passive House

needs for good light, views and visual connections to

compliance requires a maximum space heating demand of 15 kWh/m2 year, which is

the outside amenity spaces with thermal performance

often less than 10% of a conventional equivalent building.

was a key challenge.

The first set of decisions on the exterior assemblies required a lot of research

Gaulhofer U-PVC windows [U=0.80 W/(m2K)] as

and energy modelling. There are few technical solutions available in Canada for

well as Raico curtain wall [U=0.80 W/(m2K)] were

supporting exterior cladding over 300mm [12”] of continuous insulation. CSV

selected because they are PHI certified and provide

seriously considered the fiberglass Cascadia clip, but at a maximum insulation depth

high performance for insulation, air-tightness, and

of 8” it would have required a hybrid using double clips, I-joists, or some other

condensation resistance. The Gaulhofer Select Exterior

extension to make up the full depth, and there are not any tested systems that could

Doors [U=1.10 W/(m2K)] are also passive grade doors

be relied upon.

and meet the airtightness requirement.

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ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015


Passive House Design: An Architect’s Perspective Too often we equate energy efficiency with sustainability, overlooking considerations of form and design. I was interested to explore how a structure designed to meet the rigorous standards of PH modelling might differ from any other. By Lucio Picciano The answer becomes clearer as one closely models a building for passive solar gain, ventilation, area/volume ratio, and thermal bridging. These considerations become the drivers of building orientation, massing, fenestration and envelope design. As an architect who has always had a deep interest in elegant contextually-appropriate design combined with energy efficiency

There are also programmatic questions to be answered. In our case,

and ethical building practices, I wanted to answer this question as

what is the optimal location for a child’s bedroom? The kitchen? The

definitively as possible.

Laundry room? Can I hang my clothes to dry in this location or do I always have to use the dryer? These are now questions that have

Casa Luca was my first attempt at not just speculating about the

environmental implications and for which the answers are quantifiable.

relationship between energy efficiency and context, but actually

Architectural excesses can clearly be seen as such.

calculating it scientifically. Herein lies the major difference between the PH approach and most other sustainability models. PH modelling

Of course, there will always be trade-offs in design but striving for

requires rigorous and exact dimensioning of all relevant details,

good architecture and real energy efficiency can truly make a building

components, and systems within a building. These aspects are then

comprehensible. By achieving this level of understanding, design

scientifically combined and calculated to show actual performance

decisions can then be made in pursuit of that combination of beauty,

based on your design, precise geographic location and orientation.

quality and efficiency that every good architect strives for.

Some constraints on design are generic for all PH projects. Working

Casa Luca was a project borne out of the necessity for a bigger space for

through the PH methodology, it quickly becomes apparent how

a growing family. In short, we needed more bedrooms! The process may

adding a certain window here, or there, affects all aspects of

have started as such, but it quickly evolved into a broader challenge

performance. Similarly, we soon see how it may be difficult to

of creating a housing prototype for young urban families. Could we

provide overhangs and at the same time reduce thermal bridging.

produce an easily replicable typology for Vancouver’s RS-1 zone that was beautiful, a source of inspiration and learning, yet also achievable

Other factors may be site specific. Casa Luca sits on the south side

in today’s market? By employing commonly used details, materials, and

of an east-west street in a part of Vancouver that enjoys mountain

components that met the PH standard we were able to do so with only

views to the north. To achieve PH performance, one must limit

a small cost premium over standard construction techniques.

glazing on north facades and give priority to solar gain from the south. A roof deck overcomes this conflict by providing those views,

Further to standard PH requirements, we installed analytical sensors

and at the same time, a private outdoor space away from the street.

to test the performance of all walls and roofs for moisture content and temperature gradient. As well, the power produced by the solar panels

Also, we wanted to install a 3kw solar system [that is currently

is logged and compared to actual usage.

producing more energy than is normally required for a house this size in Vancouver]. The panels were easily added to a metal standing

Based on our experience with Casa Luca, we believe that it is possible

seam roof, but the roof itself was a challenge. In Vancouver, designing

to produce a custom-designed building that is truly energy and cost

a south-facing roof on lots zoned RS-1 is problematic, because the

efficient while satisfying all the needs of the client.

angle of daylight setback generally supports gabels that slope eastwest. We had to get relaxation to make it work.

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ecohouse CANADA | FALL | 2015

v

Lucio Picciano Architect, AIBC LEED is principal of dlp architecture inc in Vancouver.


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