Passive House

  • Wood Innovation Research Lab, Prince George, B.C.
    Photo: Michael Elkan
    Passive House, Pemberton, B.C., Wood Building, Mass Timber, Energy Efficient, Ema Peter
    BC Passive House Facility, Pemberton, B.C.
    Photo: Ema Peter
    Passive House, Pemberton, B.C., Wood Building, Mass Timber, Energy Efficient, Ema Peter
    BC Passive House Facility, Pemberton, B.C.
    Photo: Ema Peter
    Alpine Passive House, Whistler, B.C., Construction, Energy Efficient, Wood Building, BC Passive House
    Construction of Alpine Passive House, Whistler, B.C.
    Photo: BC Passive House

Passive House is a high-performance based building standard that was developed in Europe. It focuses on reducing or eliminating the need for an active heating or cooling system to maintain a comfortable interior climate. This is achieved through efficient design that utilizes passive heating and cooling techniques and an optimized building envelope that is airtight, super-insulated and fitted with energy efficient windows and a heat recovery ventilation system (HRV). 

Wood is an attractive material for Passive House because of how it combines thermal mass with a number of performance merits, including water resistance, structural integrity and finish quality. Wood is often the material of choice for prefabricated Passive House designed panels. 

Passive House certification is a rigorous quality assurance process that determines whether a building meets all of the requirements of the Passive House standard. More importantly, it confirms that the building has been designed to achieve high levels of occupant comfort and health and energy performance.

In British Columbia, the Wood Innovation Research Lab (WIRL) in Prince George is one of the first certified industrial buildings in the world. WIRL’s achievement of Passive House standard is particularly remarkable given the large volume-to-floor-area ratio of the structure and the cold climate of its location in northern British Columbia.

A number of single-family homes have been built using Passive House in places like Whistler, Vancouver, Surrey and Comox. In 2014, the City of Vancouver’s rezoning policy was updated to recognize Passive House as a compliance option. As a result, the first Passive House multi-family mid-rise building in Vancouver was completes in 2017, The Heights. More multi-family mid-rise Passive House buildings are slated for Vancouver within the next year.