What if your family home could get through a Canadian winter with about 10% of the heating energy that’s required now? What if you could build a comfortable house in our climate without a furnace? You’re probably shaking your head, “No way!” Now what if I told you just such a solution is being offered by a Canadian organization, The Canadian Passive House Institute? (http://www.passivehouse.ca).
The organization’s web site states: “In a Passive House the use of a conventional heating system (e.g. a furnace) is not required to maintain high levels of thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This general definition holds true whatever the climate zone. Capital cost savings generated from dispensing with the furnace or boiler are used to offset the costs of the better-quality components and increased insulation levels, making this approach economically attractive… the annual heating energy requirement for a Passive House is just 15 kWh/m2y, whereas conventional Canadian housing generally requires eight to ten times more heating energy to maintain comfort.”
How does it work? In this new design method, “the building shell is optimized until the conventional heating system is no longer required. The small amount of heating energy which is still needed in a Passive House can then be supplied via the ventilation air stream… Passive House buildings are superinsulated, compared to conventional construction. Depending on the climate zone, houses built in Canada will need between three and seven times better insulation performance than that provided by current national and provincial building codes…”
This is not an experimental idea. The web site explains, “In 2008 the European Union passed a resolution calling on each European member state to adopt the Passive House Standard by 2011 for all new construction and major renovation projects. Ultimately this resolution will profoundly alter the construction industry in all parts of Europe, as the continent recognizes the need to build not for maximum short term profit but for long-term economic benefits, improved indoor air quality and personal and national energy security.”
The Canadian Passive House Institute website also says “training courses will also be offered across Canada from Fall 2010 to building professionals who wish to qualify as Certified Passive House Planners.”
How can Innisfil benefit from this innovation? Would Town planners benefit from the training programs? Can town planners give priority to Passive House proposals? Can the Town offer development charge incentives for the adoption of passive house design? Can the Town itself specify passive design for new municipal buildings, and encourage adoption of this approach at the County level? Would the Town sponsor a retrofit demonstration project? Can Passive House Planning be a new employment opportunity?
Residents and business owners interested in drastically cutting their heating costs might benefit from a visit to the Canadian Passive House Institute website.