Many would agree that passive housing meets the highest energy standards in the entire green building sector. Passive buildings are holistic, incorporating elements of both energy efficiency and sustainability. While passive design has a long history in the European industry, with the original Passivhaus developed by German professor Wolfgang Feist and Swedish professor Bo Adamson, it is relatively new to North America.
North America’s largest commercial Passive House Brian Fewster’s Le Belvédère, is set to become a global leader in passive design.
Despite facing some trying conditions, the Wakefield, Quebec building is a testament to energy efficiency at all costs. Functioning as a wedding, meeting and corporate events facility, the development has been led by consulting firm Homesol Building Solutions Inc, whose role will go beyond development and stretch into monitoring the building’s operation and gathering data to be assessed by the Passive House Institute in Germany.
While passive housing is often seen as an architectural feat, its success lies within the interiors of the space, and their ability to offer natural, non-energy reliant climate control. This large-scale passive structure features 12 inches of polystyrene insulation from the concrete slab upward.
Prefabrication of the building’s structure means assembly is quick, efficient, and environmentally responsible and makes airtight measures far more successful.
According to Homesol president and CEO Ross Elliot, this 150,000 square foot development, which will cater to up to 150 guests in sub-zero temperatures, will only cost $600 per year to run.
“Le Belvédère is located about a half-hour outside Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, which features winter temperatures colder than Moscow, Russia,” says Elliot. “And yet we’re very confident we’re going to meet or exceed the Passive House standard.”
Further energy efficient measures incorporated into the building’s design include LED lighting, a 2,200 cubic foot per minute enthalpy recovery ventilator with over 90 per cent heat recovery and various other forms of thickening insulation.
The development already has a Canadian standard EnerGuide Rating of 95. It will now be a waiting game to see if it is able to meet the Passive House standards to become the largest commercial development of its kind in North America.