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Pembina Institute releases report tracking rapid growth of Passive House buildings


December 5, 2016
by Canadian Architect

The Pembina Institute has launched a new report about ultra energy efficient Passive House buildings at The Heights in Vancouver. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute

The Pembina Institute has launched a new report about ultra energy efficient Passive House buildings at The Heights in Vancouver. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute

Imagine living in a home so energy efficient that your utility bill could be slashed by up to 80 per cent.

That will be the reality for residents of low-carbon, ultra energy efficient buildings, such as The Heights, under construction in Vancouver. The six-storey, 85-unit, market-rental apartment project at 388 Skeena Street aims to be Canada’s largest building certified to the internationally recognized Passive House standard.

Vancouver is poised to implement its new Zero Emissions Building Plan, and the B.C. and federal governments have signalled changes are coming to building and energy efficiency regulations and policies as part of each jurisdiction’s plans to slash carbon pollution. These changes will result in ultra energy efficient buildings becoming the norm by 2030, which will reduce the cost of utility bills for British Columbians.

“In less than 10 years, near-zero emission homes and buildings will be commonplace in Vancouver and elsewhere. Recent government initiatives — including Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan and B.C.’s climate plan — call for new buildings to achieve near-zero emissions by 2030,” said Karen Tam Wu, director of the buildings and urban solutions program, Pembina Institute. “We expect the federal framework for clean growth and climate change to complement this objective. These forward-looking policies will protect our communities, support job creation, and strengthen our low-carbon economy.”

The Pembina Institute has launched an in-depth report, Accelerating Market Transformation for High-Performance Building Enclosures. It tracks the rapid growth of Passive House buildings, assesses their costs and benefits, and sheds light on how public policy can encourage their adoption. The report notes the number of Passive House units in North America has quadrupled in the last year, from 500 to over 2,000 units. A quarter of the units (600) are in Vancouver alone, making the city a hotbed for the North American expansion of these green buildings that dramatically reduce carbon pollution and energy use, enhance comfort and durability, and boost the clean economy.

“The number of Passive House units in North America has quadrupled in the last year, and a quarter of these are in Vancouver alone,” said Dylan Heerema, analyst, Pembina Institute. “As industry capacity develops and more builders get on board, we can expect the added cost of building to near-zero emission standards to fall or even disappear. Factor in lower bills for energy and maintenance, and green buildings will increasingly become an affordable housing option.”

The report was made possible by a Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance Innovation Fund grant from the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a Greenest City grant from the Vancouver Foundation, and the support of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. Its launch coincided with a media tour of The Heights, hosted by the Pembina Institute with representatives of Eighth Avenue Development Group, Peak Construction Group of Companies, Cornerstone Architecture, the City of Vancouver, and Passive House Canada.

To read the report, please click here.