Thursday, February 21, 2013

Link to the Passive House news on Global TV

Here is the link to the Passive House video that was aired tonight on Global news: 

We didn't appear much in the piece, but there were lots of footage of our house, which is most of the construction in this video.  The workers are our crew members, doing actual work two weeks ago.  They used a lot of the information supplied by us, but Lyndon only said one sentence 'on air'.  The filming was supposed to be included in an episode about innovative things happening in construction across Canada, but it is presented in this news piece instead. Hopefully, this will lead to more people knowing about the possibility of passive houses in Canada!


  1. Great news article but the 10% extra cost to build over conventional construction doesn't seem accurate. A double wall takes double the materials and almost double the time to construct. I haven't found a manufacturer selling triple pane windows at 10% more than double pane.

    What do you consider a more accurate cost comparison?

    1. The 10% cost premium is certainly proving to be true in what appears to be all the projects going, if we consider costs in the most simple sense. More recent findings are telling us the houses are being built at costs on par with standard houses - this is in Germany.
      Cost data still needs to be vetted here in Canada, as we've had so few projects, but on our own house, I think we'll even be below average construction costs - we shall see when we are done.
      Re the framing and cost of windows, even if the framing costs were double, it would only amount to something like a 10% increase in the final product, since the framing itself is often about 10% the total construction cost. Similar logic applies to the windows. Remember the mechanical systems can cost 1/2 as much as in conventional houses, even less sometimes.
      But overall construction and design are complex processes, with many many steps. Comparing two houses is really difficult - because one must ask what is actually being compared. The final results of Passive House construction are very different from the final results of conventional construction, so we are comparing the construction costs of apples to oranges. Regular houses don't have the same comfort as passive houses, both thermally and acoustically. Regular houses are not as durable as passive houses, and regular houses generally have more indoor air pollution than passive houses due to the materials used, the air leakage rates, the lack of outdoor air supply, etc. Now we want to compare the construction costs...hmmm.
      I found the house we are building is just so different from other houses - we have rainwater collection, an elevator shaft, two stair cases, open beam ceilings, ground floor bath, high strength concrete, snow melt, steel weldments, and even tongue groove 5/8" plywood on the roof, hand-framed roof, lots of natural light in the basement, a balcony, low voltage lighting, etc etc. Not to mention the PV array on the roof.
      On the other hand, we don't have a brick facade, no attached garage, and no multitude of rooflines - and the thick walls consume a significant additional square footage. You can see it is sometimes much of an over simplification to compare construction costs. One would have to make controlled experiments!

  2. Thanks Lyndon, so we aren't talking about making the same structure with conventional vs passive house building techniques, it is more comparing a conventional house with complex roof lines and mechanical systems to a similar square foot passive house.

    That makes more sense to me, a square box is simpler to build (and heat) than a structure full of gables etc.

    Great project and blog.