Canadian Contractor

Robert Koci   

Passive House building is great building

Here at Canadian Contractor, we are big fans of building tight, smart and well. No matter what you believe about Climate Change.

The binder is an inch thick. The banner on the cover says, “PASSIVEHOUSE Build Better. Feel Better.” After sitting in on a three-day seminar conducted by Passive House Canada, the association in Canada promoting the building method, I am not sure I felt better, but I was certainly convinced that to build to Passive House standards is to “Build Better.”

Passive House building, in 25 words or less is building tight, smart and well insulated. The longer version is the 1,000 Power Point slides included in the binder. The Thermal Bridging section takes 20 pages and 80 slides and is about as deep a dive into the subject as you’ll experience. The standard for air tightness is high enough (four times tighter than the Ontario Building Code) you could get a little light-headed with the windows closed and the hyper-efficient H/ERV (Heat/Energy recovery ventilator) turned off. Typical Passive House insulation rates R values in the 60s…everywhere.

What I like about Passive House building is that it is principally low tech. Reliance on technology to reduce energy consumption is essentially limited to the quality of the doors and windows and the HRV unit controlling the air exchanges in the house. It is mechanically simple. It is efficiency stripped down. Where it is complex, it is in the methods the designer uses to eliminate thermal bridging and increase insulation and in the methods the builder uses to put it all together.

As Canadian Contractor readers know, I am no fan of Global Warming hysteria. But I am a big, big fan of building tight, smart and well. If there is any place where traditional builders and new, green-wave GW-activists can co-exist, it’s here. At the threshold of Passive House.




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