Integrated design is vital to achieving passive house!
The new six-storey passive house Skeena Residence provides 200 bedrooms with other amenities and it is defined by the sun floods and through views with easy access to outdoors. And the integrated design was vital to achieving passive house certification. The Skeena Residence is located in the cold climate (climate zone 5) of British Columbia in Canada.
“With Passive House, however, details rule: even fasteners become an essential element because of their ability to conduct heat. Designing the details in preliminary phases allows for accurate energy modelling.” By passive house.
Energy invested early in the design pays off over the lifetime of the building. To demonstrate the efficiency of the residence: at the coldest point in the year, more than ¼ of the heat required for the building is supplied by student body heat.
“Skeena Residence is the first Passive House dormitory in Canada and the second in North America. It will be part of UBCO’s Living Laboratory initiative. As one of several wood frame dormitories on campus, it creates a unique opportunity for studying Passive House performance in Canada. The building has been fitted with a comprehensive monitoring system which will gather data to compare Skeena’s energy use and occupant comfort with neighbouring buildings built to LEED Gold and BC Building code standards.” By UBCO Skeena Residence in Kelowna, British Columbia
Key challenges for the design team!
Read about key challenges described by the design team:
-The decision to pursue passive house would not be made until after the project was designed and the schedule could not be interrupted: the solution was to design the Passive House layer and systems like a jacket that could simply be taken off within hiccup.
-Passive house buildings require simple forms for energy efficiency. Skeena was built into a non-passive house context, which set up unrealistic design expectations: To counter these expectations, the team allowed for time to educate and inform the client and user groups.
-Construction of the wall assembly is new – and therefore challenging – too many tradespeople: To offset this learning curve, RDH, the envelope consultant offered onsite workshops focused on passive house construction.
-Achieving passive house for Skeena Residence was complicated by the northern desert climatic of the Okanagan region and the student residence typology, which has higher population density; greater density of appliances (fridges, hairdryers, and computers) that creates an enormous plug load, or electrical draw; and much higher humidity than typical multi-family residential. To combat these factors, Skeena focused on insulation, airtightness, and moisture control. For example, air circulation is completely renewed every three hours via highly efficient mechanical systems, thus warding off the threat of mould. Despite these complexities, Skeena Residence was delivered ahead of schedule, under budget, and during a pandemic.
-Some key components of Passive House building have long-lead times. To avoid schedule delays, pre-tender some of the key components such as air handling units with heat recovery units and triple-glazed windows.
Read more about this case study (link here).
More interesting case studies from the cold climate!