This digital rendering of a home planned for Oak Crest Drive in Saanich would be the first passive house to be built in Greater Victoria. Passive house building standards are the most stringent energy efficiency standards in the construction industry.

Saanich home takes green to extreme

Passive house uses extra thick walls and highest-quality insulation, doors and windows to drastically improve energy efficiency

Mark Bernhardt’s utility bills last month came in at $533.

This time next year, he hopes to be paying one-tenth of that for his heat, hot water and all the electricity his home needs.

The 30-year-old is looking to build a “passive house” on Oak Crest Drive in Saanich. Extra thick walls as well as the highest quality insulation, doors and windows (among other features) are used to drastically improve energy efficiency.

Once complete, Bernhardt expects his house to be between 80 to 90 per cent more efficient than the standard home.

“It’s science-based. It’s focused strictly on energy efficiency, which is the key ingredient to building efficiency,” says project manager Rob Bernhardt, Mark’s father. “This forces you to look at certain things from a physics perspective.”

By focusing on such principles as building shape, orientation, airtightness and heat recovery ventilation, the Bernhardts expect to pay less than $1,000 per year on heat, hot water and electricity for the 800-square-metre duplex. And that’ll be with four adults and two kids living there.

The passive house standard is the most stringent energy efficiency standard in the construction industry, with a cap on the amount of energy it uses. This cap is 1/18th that of what the average house consumes.

Casey Edge, executive officer of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, says he’s not aware of any passive houses built in the region to date. He attributes that to the higher upfront costs, as the building requires extra levels of planning and construction.

He expects most developers will stay away from passive homes, unless they’re specifically asked – as in the Bernhardts’ case – to build one.

“The people who can afford to pay for it, can pay for it. Most young families getting into a new home, can’t afford all the bells and whistles of a passive home – but a reasonably efficient home they can afford,” he said. “There’s no point in building passive homes that people can’t afford to buy.”

The Bernhardts argue the home may cost more to build, but those extra expenses should pay for themselves through significant energy savings.

“We’re designing a house that’s intended to be sustainable. It’s not a normal house with green add-ons,” Mark said.

“If you can afford to build a house, why not build this type of house?”

Rob says he hopes more homeowners and developers will look to adopt this type of energy efficiency standard.

“This type of home is very supportive of (Saanich’s) community goals for sustainability. This type of construction is very important for getting there.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

Technical passive housing standards:

• The building must use less than 15 kWh/m² per year for heating and cooling. (The average home uses 275 kWh/m² per year.)

• The building must use less than 120 kWh/m² per year on primary energy (heat, hot water, electricity).

• The air change rate in the building must be measured at less than or equal to 0.6 ACH at 50 Pa.

– Courtesy of Passive House Institute U.S.

Just Posted

BC Hydro to offer sale of Kings Road land to Saanich

Preserving land as park ‘a no-brainer,’ says neighbour

Victoria UnWined helps grant wishes for children facing critical illness

UnWined Vancouver Island raises money for Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon

Victoria teen with mobility issues stranded by stolen tricycle

The tricycle is described as customized light blue, three-wheeled tricycle with “white wall” tires

Saanich plants 60 trees to mark 60 years

Saanich Parks celebrates alongside National Tree Day, Sept. 26

Victoria’s Cool Aid Society unveils mural in celebration of 50th anniversary

The mural was created by Victoria’s artist-in-residence, Luke Ramsey

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read