The federal government recently announced funding for a new affordable rental building in Whistler that will meet Passive House standards.
The four-storey rental building will be funded through the National housing Strategy’s Rental Construction Financing Initiative and the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund. The $7.3 million will go towards construction, and the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is putting up $1.7 million to facilitate the Passive House design.
There will be 24 units, including four studios, 13 one-bedrooms, and seven two-bedrooms. All the units will be designated as affordable, with 17 units being available for well below 30% of the area’s median household income. The affordable rents will be maintained for the next 50 years.
"The municipality recognizes the importance of housing our community's workforce locally to ensure we have a vibrant and successful community,” says Jack Crompton, Mayor of Whistler. “Providing access for our workforce to a range of attainable housing options continues to be a challenge and priority for our government. Thank you to the Government of Canada for recognizing the continued need for housing in our community and providing funding measures to help us continue to meet our goal of housing 75 percent of our workforce locally.”
This is great news, especially the part about the residence meeting Passive House standards. It makes us wonder why there aren’t more condo developers and builders planning Passive House designs in the Greater Toronto Area.
There are so many benefits to a Passive House; low monthly energy use equals savings in the bank, and the air tightness results in higher air quality and an overall quieter home. The comfort created by Passive House design is too good to pass up.
The parameters of what defines a Passive House can be somewhat confusing, and it could even be why it hasn’t taken the world by storm yet. Basically, air tightness is key. So, insulation is always top notch, and thick doors and triple-pane windows are used to ensure there are no “thermal bridges,” which is where heat and energy escape your home.
Solar power is also key, along with window orientation. For example, the sun shines on different parts of your home depending on the time of year. Ensuring your living spaces are properly lit throughout the year helps warm your home.
Another key heat performance factor is you. That’s right - you generate heat, along with your appliances. Why let that energy go to waste? Passive House design requires internal vents in the warmest parts of your home, like the laundry room or kitchen. These vents capture the heat in the air and sends it to a Heat Recovery Ventilator, which heats or cools incoming fresh air before circulating it throughout your home.
One of the best things about Passive House design is that it’s basically future proof when it comes to energy efficiency standards. In most urban areas with a government that prioritizes sustainability, building standards will continue to shift towards more energy efficient designs, and Passive House design will stand the test of time (in theory and if executed properly!).