NEWS - Winter 2015/16 Issue

Quebec Demo House becomes Canada’s first LEED v4 certified building

The high-performance Demo House, known as the Edelweiss House, in Wakefield, QC just north of Ottawa has become the first project in Canada to earn LEED v4 certification, and only the second LEED v4 home in the world to reach the Platinum level. Built by Mike Reynolds and Emmanuel Cosgrove of our web affiliate,, in which SABMag and ecoHouse Canada are media partners, the 1,552 sq. ft. home cost under $250,000 to build and its energy bills are estimated to be less than $1.40/day – about one-tenth that of a standard new home.

“We don’t really build anymore as our mission is education,” sais Reynolds and Cosgrove. “We undertook this project to show builders and homeowners that it isn’t that hard or expensive to build better performing homes, and that your true monthly bills can actually be lower right from the moment you move in.”

The home will now be used for full-day workshops, as well as for short-term rentals that allow building professionals or future homeowners to experience the comfort of a passive solar home first hand. This ultra-low energy home has earned high praise from the CaGBC for its innovation and leadership. “The Edelweiss House is a phenomenal achievement – the first Canadian project to meet the stringent requirements of the latest version of LEED at its highest level,” said Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of the CaGBC. “I commend Ecohome for being a leader in the Canadian home building community and for demonstrating to the industry that high sustainability standards can be achieved right here in Canada, right now.” Canada currently has nine additional projects registered for LEED v4 certification in Canada, with this certification marking the first of its kind for any project type.

Our web affiliate,, has released the first 13 productions of a 20-part Video Building Guide series covering the building techniques, products and technologies used to build the Demo House. The Guide makes a  fantastic visual resource for design and construction professionals, and homeowners.

The videos are only a few minutes each, and can be seen here: For more information on additional LEED v4 registered project in Canada, visit CaGBC’s LEED v4 Leaderboard webpage.

Net Zero homes open as part of national program

Two Net Zero Energy [NZE] homes have recently opened in Ottawa and Calgary as part of a national program by Natural Resources Canada and sponsored by Owens Corning.  Net Zero means the houses will generate as much energy as they consume on an annual basis.

More than $4 million in funding and in-kind contributions from Natural Resources Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative [ecoEII], Owens Corning Canada and the building industry will allow for the construction of at least 25 Net Zero Energy homes in four provinces – Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The goal of the Net Zero Energy Homes Project is to make what were once one-off, high-performance custom homes accessible to the everyday consumer.

Ottawa-based home and condo builder Minto Communities Canada has completed its first Net Zero Energy Ready [NZEr] home in Ottawa’s Arcadia community. The home is the first of five such homes which Minto will build.




 Key features include:

  • Advanced insulation techniques, including Owens Corning CodeBord® Air Barrier System that will help retain warmth in colder seasons and protect against drafts
  • Triple-pane windows
  • A heating system that is twice as efficient as a natural gas furnace
  • LED lighting
  • An energy monitoring system to keep homebuyers informed on their energy consumption
  • A roof designed to accommodate solar panels to generate electricity

The house is designed to stay above 16 degrees Celsius for 24 hours on a winter day in the event of a power outage. The NZEr Minto home starts at $495,000. Minto will build its four other NZEr townhomes in spring 2016.


Mattamy Homes, North America’s largest privately-owned homebuilder, opened its first Net Zero Energy [NZE home] which is one of five that Mattamy will build in the NE community of Cityscape by Spring 2016. The 1,658 sq. ft. home features advanced insulation [the Owens Corning™ CodeBord® Air Barrier System]; Plygem triple-pane windows; Mitsubishi Electric Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump; Rheem High Efficiency Domestic Hot Water Heater, Eyedro real-time energy monitoring system; and 40 SolarMax photovoltaic panels.

Net Zero precast concrete house gets LEED Platinum

The Habitat for Humanity house in Edmonton, the first Net Zero house built entirely with precast concrete by Lafarge Canada Inc. and designed by Stantec Design, has received the LEED® Platinum for Homes certification from the CaGBC. The house was published in the Spring, 2014 issue of ecoHouse Canada.

The Habitat Net Zero Prototype was developed as a collaborative project supplying a social, innovative, and affordable housing option to urban infill and reflect upon strategies that were implemented to supply Edmonton’s Habitat for Humanity with their first net-zero home.

Modular precast concrete wall panels gave the opportunity to create a modern aesthetic with an exterior design that can be integrated into any community. At the same time, the modular wall panels offered sustainable features such as durability, living exterior walls, a “cap” for solar panels, and enough structural strength to house a green roof - although that option was not pursued for this project. Meanwhile, the ultra-high performance of the foam sandwiched between two layers of concrete provided an excellent exterior envelope.

The lessons learned from this prototype will allow Lafarge and Stantec to develop a modular approach to constructing homes and multi-family residential buildings. The ability to produce repeatable, high-performance, precast modules on an industrial scale will significantly reduce the capital costs for homes thus making sustainable home ownership attainable for more and more families.

Subscribe to ecoHouse digital

Readers can now subscribe to and access the ecoHouse Canada digital versions on their phones and tablets through iTunes, Pocketmags or Google Play. ecoHouse Canada covers high-performance housing and related products for healthier and much more energy-efficient living in one of the toughest climates in the world. High-performance housing is making great strides, and ecoHouse Canada will keep you in the know. Consider subscribing now …

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Passive House Conference sets course for advancement in North America

Vancouver hosted the North American Passive House Conference on October 1 and 2 at which 400 building industry professionals - including architects, contractors, government representatives, and suppliers – exchanged information and strategies on advancing Passive House building in the U.S. and Canada.

Highlights included:

  • Presentations and workshops aimed at experienced Passive House designers, builders and consultants, as well as those new to the standard.
  • A specific track focused on building policy and regulation, including presentations on a social housing project in Ottawa, and the process Brussels undertook to mandate Passive House-compliant buildings in January 2015.
  • The Pembina Institute and the City of Vancouver facilitated two breakout sessions for policy makers to enable fast track learning and knowledge transfer.
  • Big buildings were new to the agenda with presentations on a high rise in New York, three multi-unit buildings in Vancouver, a school in Bavaria and a recreational centre in Latvia.
  • Dr. Witta Ebel, a Director of the Passive House Institute in Germany, announced the launch of the new Passive House Planning Package software [version 9] in English at the conference.
  • The first North American Passive House Design Award went to Cover Architectural Collaborative for their multifamily project in Nelson, BC. Bedford Road House is the first Passive House certified multi-family dwelling in Canada.
  • Dr. Guido Wimmers of the University of Northern British Columbia was presented with the Harold Orr Award for his contribution to Passive House in Canada.
  • On Saturday October 3, 30 conference attendees joined a bicycle tour of Passive House projects in Vancouver, led by Mayor Robertson, while others toured projects in Whistler.



New Passive House Planning Tool launched at Vancouver conference

The Passive House Institute’s new guidelines for building evaluation have come into effect with the introduction of a new version of the Passive House Planning Package [PHPP] tool at the NAPHN15 Conference in Vancouver in October, 2015. Not only is certification according to the Passive House Classes Plus and Premium now possible worldwide, but the EnerPHit criteria for retrofits are also now applicable in all climates.

The heating demand of a Passive House may not exceed 15 kWh/[m2a]; this applies for all three certification classes. For a Passive House Classic, the limit value for the PER demand is 60 kWh/[m2a]. A Passive House Plus must not use more than 45 kWh/[m2] of renewable energy. In addition, it must generate at least 60 kWh/[m2a] energy based on the projected building footprint. For a Passive House Premium building the energy demand is limited to 30 kWh/[m2a] and at least 120 kWh/[m2a] of energy must be generated.

Over a third of the energy used in industrialised countries is for running buildings, most of this goes towards heating. With the Passive House Standard, it is possible to reduce this consumption by up to 90 percent, and the remaining demand can be met sustainably through renewable energy sources.

The Passive House Standard is thus not only an ideal solution for climate protection but is also an especially attractive investment opportunity for all building owners. A more detailed description of the new Passive House Classes and the evaluation of sustainability according to PER factors can be found on the internet platform Passipedia. Info:


Bella Bella Staff housing goes prefab passive

Vancouver Coastal Health has replaced six residential housing units with factory-built modules that have achieved passive house standard and certification. Each unit is two bedroom and 900 square feet. Being in a remote location, modular was chosen to minimize on-site construction time and to detail the building envelope in a controlled environment. Pre-testing for air leakage was done in the factory, and units finished and sealed before moving to the site. The building form, roof structure and colours were designed to respond to the community context. Designed by Mobius Architecture Inc. and modular fabrication by Britco Building Innovations. Watch for this project in a future issue of SABMag.

Large parks key to city success

Cities should feature compact development alongside large, contiguous green spaces to maximise benefits of urban ecosystems to humans, research led by the University of Exeter has concluded.
As populations continue to swell in cities, decision-makers across the globe grapple with how best to accommodate growing resident numbers while maintaining healthy urban ecosystems. Previous research has demonstrated that urban green spaces and trees  yield far-reaching benefits to humans, from increased happiness and health to absorbing surface water run-off and storing carbon.

Researchers have long debated whether it is better to build compact developments with large parks or nature reserves, as often found in Europe and Japan, or whether it is preferable to build sprawling suburbs with many small parks and gardens, as found in many North American and Australian cities.

Now, the team at the University of Exeter, working with Hokkaido University in Japan, has analysed nine case studies of cities worldwide which considered how urbanisation patterns affect the functioning of urban ecosystems. The research, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment and supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EPSRC], has concluded that high-density cities featuring large parks or nature reserves yield the most benefits – although they stress that smaller parks and gardens should not be sacrificed and still play a positive role. Info:


NEWS - Fall 2015 Issue


Enhanced Passive House planning tool released

English version of PHPP 9 to be presented at NAPHN Conference in Vancouver
The tried and tested Passive House Planning Package [PHPP] tool for designing energy efficient buildings is available in a brand-new version: PHPP 9. This upgrade not only allows reliable calculation of the energy demand in accordance with internationally applicable criteria, it also takes into account energy generation on or near the building. Over the past few months, a German edition of the PHPP 9 has already been successfully used in practice; the English version will be presented for the first time at the NAPHN North American Passive House conference, to be held from October 1 and 2, 2015 in Vancouver.

New features in the PHPP include innovative options such as heat recovery from shower water. Different options for a particular measure can now be entered in one PHPP file and tested with reference to their respective effects. In this way it is possible to determine improvement in efficiency from individual refurbishment steps.

Due to its high accuracy in energy balance calculation, the PHPP is perfectly suitable for planning nearly zero- or net zero-energy buildings. The user handbook not only offers a description on how to use the tool, but also acts as a guide to design working Passive House buildings.

New residential IAQ guideline brings changes for use of high-efficiency filters

With recent research showing that ultrafine particles are more hazardous to human health than originally thought, higher-efficiency filters should be used, according to the newly published 2015 version of ASHRAE’s residential indoor air quality guideline.

Guideline 24-2015, Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, provides information on achieving good indoor air quality [IAQ] that goes beyond the requirements contained in Standard 62.2, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, by providing explanatory and educational material not included in the code-intended standard. Guideline 24 is the companion document to Standard 62.2.

“In the 2008 version, we indicated that if a lot of ultrafine particles were expected, higher-efficiency filters should be considered. Period,” Paul Francisco, chair of the Guideline 62.2 committee, said. “Now we say a lot more. We cite research that shows that ultrafine particles are a much more significant concern, and we state explicitly that higher-efficiency filters mean MERV 13 or higher.”

Multistage particle filtration [a relatively coarse filter followed by a high-efficiency filter] can help filter out different sized particles without overloading the higher-efficiency filters. When selecting filters, consideration should be given to the effects of the filter’s pressure drop on delivered airflow, fan capacity and energy use. Info:

Subscribe to ecoHouse digital

Readers can now subscribe to and access the ecoHouse Canada digital versions on their phones and tablets through iTunes, Pocketmags or Google Play. ecoHouse Canada covers high-performance housing and related products for healthier and much more energy-efficient living in one of the toughest climates in the world.

High-performance housing is making great strides, and ecoHouse Canada will keep youin the know. Consider subscribing now …

iTunes:  Pocketmags:
Google Play:

Video Building Guide of high-performance Demo House launched

Our web affiliate,, has released the first 11 productions of a 20-part Video Building Guide series covering the building techniques, products and technologies of a high-performance Demonstration House which is designed to achieve LEED Platinum. The Guide makes a  fantastic visual resource for design and construction professionals, and homeowners.
It covers slab-on-grade construction with in-floor radiant heating, a vegetated roof, heat pumps and HRVs, window selection and installation, building an envelope that is highly insulated and air tight, interior finishing, and more.

The videos are only a few minutes each, and can be seen here!

We thank our product sponsors: Roxul, W.R. Meadows, Kott Lumber, Uponor, Ecogenia/Lunos, CGC, Fantech, Delta [Cosella Dorken], Mitsubishi Electric Canada, American Standard, Benjamin Moore, A.O. Smith, Riopel, Columbia Forest Products, Les Fenêtres Élite Inc., Logsend, Cosentino Canada, Glendyne, Isocork Canada, Rainfresher, Bostik, Aeratron and Philips.

Winning residential design team of the Canadian Green Building Awards recognized

The eight winning design and client teams of the 2015 Canadian Green Building Awards were presented their certificates by Awards sponsors Interface, the Canadian Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute and Uponor at the Canada Green Building Council [CaGBC] national conference in Vancouver on June 2.

Among the winners was the Beechwood Deep Green Retrofit in Toronto by Greening Homes Ltd., a renovation of a 1950s home designed using Passive House strategies that achieved an air tightness of of 0.44 ACH @50Pa.

Details here!
For information on the 2016 Canadian Green Building Awards:

Monitoring confirms energy efficiency of Passive House city district

According to the Passive House Institute, the Passive House district of Bahnstadt in Heidelberg, Germany has passed the energy-efficiency test: the average consumption of 1,260 housing units with a total living area of more than 75,000 m2 was 14.9 kWh/[m2a] -  a savings of about 80 % compared to regular construction. The statistically high number of residential projects built by different property developers and architects convincingly shows that a successful large-scale implementation of the Passive House Standard is possible.

The measurements were carried out on the basis of monthly metre readings of the total heat consumption in several blocks with over a hundred apartments in each. An average heating energy consumption lower than the Passive House limit value of 15 kWh/[m2a] was measured in the process.
The consumption data showed consistently high conformity with the demand calculated in advance using the Passive House Planning Package [PHPP].

The Bahnstadt Passive House district has been created on the grounds of a former freight railway station and makes a vibrant mix of residential and commercial buildings covering 116 hectares. Once it is entirely developed, up to 12,000 people will be living and working in the new city district.

Passive House tour will show the buildings of the future

Low-cost, comfortable, sustainable – that’s the future of the buildings of tomorrow. During the International Passive House Days from 13 to 15 November, everyone will be able to see how this concept is already working, when several hundreds of built examples will be open for viewing. Experts will demonstrate how Passive House buildings function, while residents will talk about their experiences. An overview of the Passive House buildings participating in the Passive House Days event in individual cities and regions around the world can be found on the website

Offices and school buildings will also be opening their doors to the public. “During visits, everyone will be able to see for themselves that a Passive House not only saves energy but also provides substantially high levels of comfort and air quality at the same time”, says Amina Lang from the International Passive House Association. The event is an initiative of the International Passive House Association iPHA, in cooperation with its affiliates in their respective countries.

New log design makes log building more energy efficient

Log homebuilding company 1867 Confederation Log and Timber Frame has launched the  EEE Log [engineered energy efficient log] which has  more than double the “R” value compared to natural wood.     “With an R value of 26.5 the EEE Log is more energy efficient than traditional log homes and most new stick frame homes,” says Rick Kinsman, president of 1867 Confederation.

The manufactured parts are formed with a combination of solid laminated outside wood [four sides] harvested from sustainably-managed Ontario forests, and high-density foam in the centre that contributes to the superior insulation qualities.
EEE logs won’t shrink and cost about 10% more than conventional logs, but more than pay for themselves with the resulting energy savings.

New residential split systems meet 2015 efficiency standards, offer energy savings of 29 %

 The new Champion residential heating and air-conditioning split systems from Johnson Controls have efficient operation and are easy for contractors to install. Johnson Controls invested more than 125,000 hours of research, and testing which included five years of accelerated field testing, extreme weather testing and salt spray testing to measure material corrosion, performance and durability. The result is a family of air conditioners, heat pumps, gas furnaces and air handlers.