Photographs courtesy of Dürfeld Constructors and BC Passive House
Located in Whistler, B.C. this 2011 duplex - of around 1500 square feet each side - designed by Marken Projects Inc. and built by Durfeld Constructors is not only visually arresting, but it embraces passive construction standards.
Started in Germany, the Passive House Standard is a voluntary international energy standard. The Canada Passive House Institute promotes and supports the international standard here in Canada. Here is a comprehensive must-read pamphlet on the Standard that clarifies the guidelines outlining the levels of energy a design can use to achieve high levels of occupant comfort and health and energy performance.
Equilibrium Consulting provided structural engineering for the Rainbow Duplex while the energy modeling was executed by Marken Projects. While both sides of the duplex have electric baseboards and a Mitsubishi mini split heat pump for heating and cooling, the basis behind the Passive House Standard is to optimize your building envelope to dramatically reduce the reliance on these systems to the tune of 80-90% energy savings. Furthermore, solar panels on the roof provide hot water for the duplex.
All Photographs are a courtesy of Dürfeld Constructors and BC Passive House
Using a prefabricated panel system developed by BC Passive House (which is Canada’s first manufacturing plant that meets the rigorous Passive House Standards), creating a building envelope which is airtight, superinsulated and fitted with super energy efficient windows and a heat recovery ventilation system is an essential key to the success of a Passive House project. Being a double walled system that is made up of main structural wall and then the interior service wall, the structural wall contains the air barrier (interior OSB sheathing), the superinsulation (note the insulation is not airtight) and the structural requirements. The required panel thicknesses and R-Values are determined using local climate date, the Passive House Planning Package design software and the design goals and energy objectives of the project. The interior service wall provides a space to run the services without having to constantly penetrate the air barrier. The entire system has been designed to be airtight (with the creation of the airtight barrier) while remaining vapour diffusion is open to the exterior (ie. the vapour drive is to the exterior).
In a country where temperatures can range dramatically - in Whistler B.C. the average temperatures range from a high of 27 degrees to a low of -8 degrees - Canadians are vulnerable to spiraling energy costs. The design and engineering program of Passive House Technology demonstrates how solutions are readily available, and attractive, to create more efficient Canadian living environments.
You can learn more about this forward-thinking design program at BC Passive House.
Researched and written by Sam Osia, Undergraduate student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto