ecoHouse 4 - Rainbow House - Whistler duplex combines affordability with high-performance

Nestled among Whistler’s snow-capped mountains, the Rainbow Passive House was the first residential project in western Canada to receive Passive House Certification through the international Passive House Institute [PHI].

By Lydia Dürfeld

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Inspired by our work on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Austria Passivhaus, we at Dürfeld Constructors felt confident to apply the Passive House [PH] Standard to the Rainbow House for which we were the developer and general contractor.
The Austria Haus experience showed that it made sense to prefabricate when constructing to these rigorous standards and that these thresholds can be achieved using an entirely wood-based system.

NOTABLE FEATURES

- The building envelope for the Rainbow House was constructed from the prefabricated panelized system from BC Passive House.

- Sticking with their wood-first approach, the Rainbow Passive House was fitted with Optiwin Passive House rated windows and doors.

- When sourcing a ventilation system we ran into similar problems as with the windows, the selection for efficiency ratings we were looking for were limited on the North American market. Each side of the duplex was fitted with a Paul Novas 300 high-efficiency heat recovery ventilation unit. The Paul unit has a 93% efficiency rating. The HRV was coupled with the Zehnder Comfofond-L sub-soil heat exchanger for frost protection and to temper the incoming fresh air, further increasing efficiency.

- A Mitsubishi Electric Mini Split Heat Pump is the primary heating/cooling source for the main area, electric floor mats for the bathrooms, and 250-Watt baseboard heaters in the bedrooms. Mitsubishi was chosen for its efficiency, ability to heat and cool, and price. The electric floor mats were chosen for comfort and price, as were the mini baseboard heaters.

MATERIALS

  • - BC Passive House SIP building system
  • - Blown cellulose insulation [Wallbar14 from Can-Cell Industries]
  • - Roxul insulation in 2×4 interior service wall
  • - High performance building tapes and membranes from SIGA
  • - Optiwin AL2Wood Windows, Frostkorken Entry Doors
  • - Paul Novas 300 HRV supplied by Zehnder America, paired with the Zehnder Comfofond-L ground source heat exchanger to temper incoming air
  • - Mitsubishi Electric Ductless Air to Air Mini-Split Air Conditioning and Heating Unit
  • - Electronic Exterior Blinds from SunPro Enterprises

PROJECT CREDIT

  • General Contractor Dürfeld Constructors
  • Architect Marken Projects
  • Engineer Equilibrium Consulting
  • Prefabricated Envelope BC Passive House
  • Photos John Hunter

PROJECTS PERFORMANCE

  • - Annual space heating demand [from PHPP] = 15 kWh/[m2a]
  • - Primary energy demand [from PHPP] = 106 kWh/[m2a]
  • - Airtightness [tested] = 0.25 ACH

Lydia Dürfeld is with Dürfeld Constructors in Whistler.

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