2016 British Columbia Regional Winner - FORT ST. JOHN PASSIVE HOUSE - Fort St. John, BC

JURY COMMENTS: A highly commendable effort by a small and remote municipality to create a prototype residential building to the highest energy performance standards. One of the few single-family houses to be certified to Passive House standards anywhere in Canada, the educational opportunity this project represents is profound - and all the more remarkable because it is located in an area where the economy is dominated by the oil and gas industry.

With a population of 18,000, the northern city of Fort St. John is the hub of British Columbia’s oil and gas industry. As the self-styled ‘Energetic City’, Fort St. John recognizes that an excellent source of energy is conservation. This project is an exploration of what is achievable, even in an extreme climate, and serves as an example of the important role that municipalities can play in advancing energy conservation. At the time of completion in 2015, the building was only the third certified single-family Passive House project in Canada.

The site is a south-facing lot in a residential area that the City has designated for development as a sustainable neighbourhood. Passive Design strategies were used to maximize the thermal and environmental benefits through careful consideration of the thermal performance of building components and systems, minimizing heat losses in winter and heat gains in summer and maximizing energy efficiency.

Energy conservation is achieved through the use of high performance triple-pane wood windows, a prefabricated wood structure with cellulose and mineral wool insulation, and ultra air-tight construction. This minimizes the required size of mechanical and electrical systems, which include heat pump hot water and space heating and a 3.5KW photovoltaic array. Passive House design demands large south-facing windows to optimize solar heating.

The high-performance tilt and turn windows have an insulation value of R-9, eliminating draughts and cold spots. The Passive House design software permits detailed calculations of summer cooling loads, which have been optimized using solar shading and spectrally selective glass.

A heat recovery ventilation system ensures a continues supply of fresh, filtered air from the outside at a minimum rate of 0.3 air changes per hour, providing indoor air quality that is far superior to that in a conventional home. The PV panels generate enough power to run an air conditioner without purchasing additional electricity.

Air-source heat pumps with backup electric baseboards will emit 0.05 tonnes of GHGs per year — which represents a 99% reduction relative to a typical single-family detached dwelling. The 9KW photovoltaic system is anticipated to cover up to 50% of the electric energy consumed over the year - the remainder coming from hydroelectric sources. The heating/cooling cost for the year is estimated to be $200-$400, which amounts to annual savings of approximately $1,000-$1,800 compared to an average house in this climate.

The Fort St. John Passive House has achieved certification as a Passive House plus [PH+] through PHIUS. The building has an Energuide rating of 91 and an application for LEED Platinum certification is in progress. The project has been used to teach the local building community about Passive House construction and low-energy building design. The house is a living classroom with public open houses, brochures, signs, workshops and website information.

High-efficiency windows by BC-based Euroline; and the heat recovery ventilaton by Tempeff in Manitoba. Insulated with mineral wool provided by Roxul.

Project Performance
- Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 432 MJ/m2/year
- Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB = 65%
- Potable water consumption from municipal sources = 900 L/occupant/year
- Potable water consumption reduction relative to reference building = 30%

Project Credits
Architect
Marken Projects
Owner/Developer City of Fort St. John
General Contractor City of Fort St. John
Landscape Architect City of Fort St. John
Mechanical Engineer Renu Building Science
Structural Engineer [Structure] Equilibrium Consulting Inc.
Structural Engineer [Foundation[ Jim Jarvis Engineering
Commissioning Agent  D. Bauer Mechanical
Photos
Velvet Leaf Photography

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