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Interview with Sam McDermott of Enbridge Gas

Sam McDermott M.Eng., P.Eng., Technical Manager – Renewable Hydrogen, is part of the Business Development team at Enbridge Gas Inc., helping in the development of its hydrogen framework which includes delivery of a blend of hydrogen and natural gas to reduce the carbon footprint of natural gas.

1. Just to get to the basics, what makes hydrogen a clean energy alternative?

It comes down to how it’s made. Power-to-Gas (PtG) is a process in which electrical energy is converted to hydrogen through the electrolysis or splitting of water (H2O) into its basic components of hydrogen and oxygen. If only renewable sources of electricity are used, the hydrogen produced is called renewable. If hydrogen is produced from a mix of renewables and/ or other sources with a high percentage of the carbon captured (greater than 90 or 95 percent), it’s considered low carbon, or termed blue hydrogen. Most of today’s hydrogen is created using steam methane reforming (SMR), a process that separates the hydrogen molecule fom the carbon molecule of methane (CH4). The industry is vigorously working on ways to achieve carbon capture rates greater than 90 and 95 percent.

2. What are the advantages of hydrogen fuel?

Hydrogen is a non carbon energy carrier and produces no green house gasses. If used in a fuel cell, the only by-product is water. It is a versatile energy carrier like electricity. Hydrogen can be used to store electricity, and it can be turned back into electricity. Hydrogen is also used in a myriad of applications such as fertilizer manufacturing, food processing, methanol production, electronics manufacturing and transportation.

3. How much hydrogen can be blended with natural gas to make it a practical energy source?

It depends on factors such as infrastructure vintage, the type of pipe and fittings used, the end use applications, and the policies in place to enable its acceptance, all of which affect blend percentages. You may hear of a blend of 18% or 20% for existing pipes, but the fact remains each gas system is different and must be evaluated on its own merits.

4. How is Enbridge getting into hydrogen production?

In 2018, Enbridge, with project partner Cummins Inc., (formerly Hydrogenics) opened North America’s first utility-scale PtG facility in Markham, Ontario. It converts electrical energy into hydrogen and was primarily used to help the IESO balance the electrical grid during system demand fluctuations. As of 2021, some of the hydrogen from the plant is being blended into the natural gas system as a pilot project to understand the efficacy of reducing carbon in the gas grid. The pilot will run for five years to provide 3,600 customers in the Markham area and insight into blending.

Also, Enbridge subsidiary Gazifere announced in February, with project partner Evolugen (a Brookfield company), plans to operate a 20-MW electrolyzer plant in Gatineau, QC by 2025. Serving about 40,000 customers, the plant will produce renewable hydrogen with the intent of injecting this hydrogen into Gazifere’s natural gas distribution network.

5. What are the next steps to move to a scaled-up use of hydrogen?

As identified in the Canadian Hydrogen Strategy, one of the main elements for the adaptation of hydrogen is de-risking of early developments via incentives such as a price on carbon, seed funding and the rapid development of harmonized codes and standards for the industry in Ontario, in Canada and the world. There is also an urgent need to have enabling policies to drive demand and bring down the cost through scale and innovation. Training and public education through awareness campaigns are vital enablers to move the industry forward and enable public acceptance. Society wants to change its energy reliance but paying for it generates pause. Unlike wind and solar, which took 20 years to realize the price points we see and enjoy today, climate change will not wait.

The City of Vancouver net zero carbon initiative

By Patrick Enright

The City of Vancouver’s initiative to

monitor, regulate and ultimately codify the embodied carbon requirements for buildings is the first of its kind in Canada and provides an example for other authorities, whether municipal, provincial or federal, to follow.

The City of Vancouver’s interest in monitoring embodied carbon in new buildings dates back to 2016. As work was being done on the original Zero Emissions Buildings Plan (designed to bring operational emissions for all rezoning projects to near zero levels) it was pointed out that embodied carbon would then become by far the most important (if not the only) consideration in terms of life cycle carbon for new buildings.

This realization highlighted the need for City staff to develop a better understanding of embodied carbon, and its contribution to overall life cycle carbon emissions. To get started on understanding embodied carbon, a requirement to calculate and report embodied carbon was included with the new rezoning policy that went into effect in 2017. This laid the foundation for a more comprehensive approach to be introduced in the future.

In January 2019, the City of Vancouver declared a climate emergency (joining a global movement that now includes nearly 2300 municipalities worldwide) and commissioned a Climate Emergency Response report to guide future policy decisions. Approved by City Council in April 2019, this report set a target of a 50% reduction in carbon pollution in Vancouver by 2,300 and carbon neutrality by 2050; accelerating the City’s previous climate efforts.1

It also added six major new objectives (referred to as Big Moves) for the next decade. One of the big moves identified in the subsequent Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) was the phased introduction of embodied carbon standards for new buildings. This document enabled City staff to review the rezoning requirement and advise on process, enforcement, and outcomes. It also provided a better understanding of leading-edge practice for embodied carbon calculations, life cycle assessment protocols and related policies.

The data acquired through this reporting phase of the project enabled City staff to determine a realistic baseline against which future mandated embodied carbon reductions could be measured. The methodology for calculating embodied carbon was based on a standard LCA and a building service life of 60 years, with reporting covering the extraction, processing and fabrication of materials and products, construction, operating and deconstruction and disposal phases.

The Embodied Carbon Strategy lays out a 10-year road map; and is designed to achieve the City’s goal of a 40% reduction in the embodied carbon of new buildings by 2030. In May 2022, the City took major action under the CEAP, proposing regulatory changes to the Vancouver Building Bylaw. The first change is to require embodied carbon reporting for all Part 3 buildings starting in July 2023; the next step (approved in principle) is scheduled for implementation in January 2025, when project proponents will have to start demonstrating reductions in embodied carbon below the benchmark levels. The advance notice will provide them with an adjustment period in which to familiarize themselves with the new requirements. 

The implementation of embodied carbon reductions will be a staged process: the first stage will require reductions of 10% for most buildings (including buildings up to 12 storeys constructed under the Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction (EMTC) code adopted by British Columbia and the City of Vancouver in 2020.). For buildings that are of 1-6 storeys, and permitted outright to be of wood frame or mass timber construction, the required reduction will be 20%.

Both the new legislation and the underlying strategy are ‘material neutral’. Proponents will be required to complete the life cycle assessment and submit the results. Establishing a reasonable benchmark at the outset is critical to the success of the program, so the initial benchmark for high-rise buildings is based on concrete construction. This ‘initial benchmark’ will be a baseline that teams create for each project based on their proposed building (as they do currently for LEED projects). Guidance on how to create a baseline will be published as part of the upcoming City of Vancouver Embodied Carbon Guidelines, to be finalized and published in January 2023.

Patrick Enright, P.Eng., is Senior Green Building Engineer with the Sustainability Group at the City of Vancouver.


8X On The Park

LEED Gold tower makes rigorous commitment to detail

By GBL Architects

Amid the many ubiquitous residential towers of downtown Vancouver, 8X On The Park stands out for its nuanced, contextual response to the varied urban context and its attention to detail.  GBL Architects guided the project through a complex, decade-long planning and design process that culminated in a 35-storey mixed-use tower of striking presence on the Vancouver skyline.

8X On The Park sits at the corner of Richards and Helmcken Street in Vancouver’s upscale Yaletown district, along the northern edge of Emery Barnes Park. Transformation of this intersection began on the northwest corner 10 years ago, with Jubilee House, an affordable housing project, also involving a collaboration between GBL and Brenhill.

Together, the two projects represent a substantial contribution to the neighbourhood of market, rental, and affordable housing units.

The site addresses multiple contextual adjacencies. A neighbouring heritage apartment establishes an urban scale and visual cadence along Helmcken Street to the west. To the east and travelling north and south along Richards Street, multiple towers of varying heights reflect the increasing densification of Yaletown. Emery Barnes Park presents a critical third contextual zone, offering desirable views and close proximity to public space.

The project team approached the design with a holistic urban and architectural vision that incorporates high-quality materials reinforced with high performance sustainable initiatives. Key design considerations for height, form, articulation, and tower programming are informed by a network of visible and invisible contextual variables resulting in a building that is highly responsive to its urban setting.

In addition to the visible contextual cues, the tower’s design is also shaped by other intangible planning factors. A compact site and two protected view corridors presented physical constraints and funding the non-market Jubilee House, as part of the project’s Community Amenity Contribution, created unique economic considerations. The resulting tower floor plate is double the size of the typical surrounding residential towers. In response to this and the competing adjacencies, the tower is subdivided into multi-faceted contextual zones, each with specifically tailored functional and aesthetic characteristics.

The building is bisected along its north/south axis into two primary volumes. The base is further articulated with a third volume that echoes the scale of the heritage Brookland Court building to the west. Continuity is maintained across each volumetric zone with a consistent rhythm of eight-storey modules that proportionally reference the height of the adjacent structure.

The façade detail. The solid cladding on the west half of the tower consists of Equitone Tectiva from Engineered Assemblies

The west half of the tower has inset balconies insulated with Schöck Isokorb® concrete-to-concrete thermal break connections on the north facade. The building also uses Schöck Bole® stud rails for punching shear reinforcement in the concrete support pillars.

Project Credits

  • Owner/Developer  Brenhill Development
  • ArchitecT  GBL Architects
  • General Contractor  Ledcor Group
  • Landscape Architect  PFS Studio
  • Civil Engineer  Aplin Martin
  • Electrical Engineer  Nemetz (S/A) & Associates
  • Mechanical Engineer  Integral Group
  • Structural Engineer  Glotman Simpson
  • Commissioning Agent  Kane Consulting
  • Energy Modelling  Kane Consulting
  • Photos  Ema Peter

GBL Architects Inc. is based in Vancouver.


Roam Transit Operations and Training Centre

Light industrial meets the CAGBC Net Zero Carbon Standard

By Mike Woodland and Eric White

The design of the Roam Transit Operations and Training Centre responds to the challenge of creating a CAGBC Net Zero Carbon Standard facility in an area that is both a Canadian National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Operated by the Town of Banff, the new centre supports the operations of the Roam Transit bus fleet in the Bow Valley, encouraging the shift to alternative transportation in Banff National Park. The single storey 1,414 m2 building stores 12 buses inside, with a canopy structure to cover an additional 20 buses on the exterior. The building program also includes offices, a driver training classroom, a state-of-the-art training simulator, staff lunchroom, washrooms, and ancillary support spaces.

The facility will be used primarily for bus storage and fleet administration, although there is an area for light maintenance and a bus wash bay. Roam Transit currently operates four electric buses, with more on order. The buses are recharged overnight at this facility.

The Roam Transit Operations and Training Centre represents the unprecedented integration of several low carbon technologies including ultra-efficient mechanical systems, a super-insulated building envelope, district heating from a biomass waste-to-energy plant, solar photovoltaics, and electric bus charging.

High Performance Building Envelope

The building envelope incorporates a combination of insulated metal wall panels with 152 mm of rigid insulation and hybrid walls with 102 mm rigid and 140 mm mineral fibre insulation giving an R-value of R-44.6 for the storage area walls and R-34 for the administration area walls. The storage area roof contains 406 mm of fibreglass insulation, while the hybrid administration roof integrates 152 mm of rigid insulation and 102 mm of fibreglass insulation to provide R-values of R-43 and R-33 respectively. Triple pane glazing with double low-E coatings, argon fill, and warm edge spacers are incorporated into thermally-broken aluminum framing with glazing U-values of 1.14 to 1.42.

Mechanical and Electrical Systems

Strategies to improve the efficiency of the mechanical and electrical systems include: 63.8% effective heat recovery on the storage area HVAC system; 83% sensible heat recovery for the administration area HVAC system; variable speed, high-efficiency hot water pumps; and lighting controlled by occupancy sensors.

Project Credits

  • Owner/Developer  Town of Banff
  • Architect  MTA Urban Design Architecture Interior Design Inc.
  • Structural engineer  ISL
  • Mechanical engineer Remedy
  • Electrical engineer  SMP
  • Civil engineer AND Landscape ARCHITECT  ISL Engineering
  • General Contractor  PCL Construction
  • CaGBC LEED and ZCB Consulting Services Integral Group
  • Energy Modelling and Commissioning  Integral Group
  • Photos  Lattitude Photography

Project Performance

  • Total energy use intensity = 88kWh/m2/ year
  • Thermal energy use intensity (TEDI) = 34 kWh/m2/year
  • Summer peak demand = 23.6kW
  • Winter peak demand = 23.5kW

Mike Woodland, AAA, AIBC, MRAIC, LEED AP is a principal at MTA | Urban Design Architecture Interior Design Inc.  Eric White, Dip. A.T., CPHC, LEED AP BD+C, Homes, WELL AP IS Associate, Sustainability at Integral Group.


825 Pacific Street Artists Hub

New residential space provides public amenity and top performance

By Padraig McMorrow

With more than 2,000m² of affordable production spaces, independent studios, exhibition space and offices, 825 Pacific provides a vital injection of dedicated artist space into the City of Vancouver. The tallest Passive House building in Vancouver, 825 Pacific represents the Community Amenity Contribution made by the developer to the City of Vancouver, in exchange to permit the construction of rezoning an adjacent property for a high-rise residential tower. Because the City would take over the project, it was required to be constructed to the Passive House standard.

The seven-storey building stands next to the historic Leslie House, one of the oldest remaining single-family homes in Downtown Vancouver. To acknowledge the small scale and cultural importance of its neighbour, the ground floor of 825 Pacific, which will be a publicly accessible gallery, is set back to create a small entrance courtyard between the two buildings.

This is a core and shell project, with only the washroom and storage areas on each floor enclosed; the remainder awaiting subdivision by the tenants.The structure of the seven storey plus basement building comprises conventionally reinforced concrete walls, columns, floor slabs and roof slab. The stair cores located at the rear of the building provide the necessary lateral resistance.


The slab on grade and basement walls are insulated with 125mm expanded polystyrene (XPS) which provides an effective thermal resistance of R-27. The roof, with 230mm of XPS laid on the slab, provides an effective thermal resistance of R-43 for the green roof. The ground floor concrete walls are insulated with 203mm mineral wool, which provides an effective thermal resistance of R-32.

The walls of the upper floors are steel stud with 152mm mineral wool batt insulation between the studs; with an additional 203mm of continuous semi rigid mineral wool insulation, supported by the thermally broken stainless steel brackets used to secure the metal cladding.

This wall assembly provides an effective thermal resistance of R-44. To mitigate thermal bridging, heavy gauge studs were used to reduce the number of brackets required; together with non-metallic through wall flashings.

Project Credits

  • Developer   Grosvenor Group
  • Owner  City of Vancouver
  • General Contractor  Ledcor Group
  • Architects  ACDF Architecture and Arcadis IBI Group
  • Building Envelope Consultant and Energy Modeller  Morrison Hershfield
  • Structural Engineer  Dialog
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer  Integral Group

Three shades of metal panels create a dynamic exterior pattern, and staggered windows from one floor to another contribute to the rhythm of the facade. The overall effect is that of a pixelated beacon to attract the public. EJOT® CROSSFIX® stainless steel thermal clip brackets attach the facade to the building structure to maintain thermal performance.

Padraig McMorrow Architect (Ireland) MRIAI, CPHC, Associate – Manager, Architecture Arcadis IBI Group Vancouver Office.


SoLo House

Off-grid design a learning experience for larger projects

By Aik Ablimit, Alysia Baldwin and Cillian Collins

SoLo house is a 380m2, self sufficient, off-grid home with a 40m2 ancillary building, sitting lightly on a forested knoll overlooking the spectacular Soo Valley north of Whistler in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Reflecting the client’s expressed intention to ‘set a new benchmark for environmental performance, health and well-being’, SoLo is not a typical alpine home.

Rather, we designed a prototype that demonstrates a unique approach to building off-grid in a remote environment where every choice has consequences. Challenging conventions in both aesthetics and construction, the prototype acts as a testing ground for low-energy systems, healthy materials, prefabricated and modular construction methods, and independent operations intended to inform the approach to larger projects.

The house includes living space and a master bedroom suite on the main level; linked to a sauna and storage space in the adjacent ancillary building. The upper level includes two more bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Given the valley’s extreme climate, it was critical to have an ‘enclosure-first’ approach to ensure energy efficiency and outstanding comfort. With the goal of Passive House certification, we devised a two-layer solution to the enclosure: an outer heavy timber frame acting as a shield to resist the weather, and the heavily insulated inner layer acting as the thermal barrier.

To ensure the house functions with exceptional thermal performance and air tightness, we conducted detailed thermal modelling of each weather condition. With the addition of double-height glazing opening the home up to the valley’s incredible views, SoLo has achieved PHI Low Energy Building Certification.


  • Owner/Developer  Delta Land Development Ltd.
  • Architect  Perkins&Will
  • Structural Engineer  Glotman Simpson
  • Consulting Engineers
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer  Integral Group
  • General Contractor  Durfeld Constructors
  • Building Envelope Consultant  RDH Building Science
  • Code Consultant  GHL Consultants
  • Photos  Latreille Photography




New community neighbour combines energy efficiency and affordable housing

By Irene Rivera and Esther Van Eeden

The Putman Family YWCA is Hamilton’s first affordable housing residence for women and children. The six storey building comprises four floors of apartment units above a ground floor and basement podium that opens to a community garden on one side. The interconnected ground and basement levels provide community services to residents and the greater community, while the sixth floor provides community and amenity spaces for residents.

Of the 50 apartment units, 15 were reserved for women living with developmental challenges. Priority for all units was given to women from marginalized and Indigenous communities who have experienced domestic violence and homelessness. 

Designed to fit naturally into the city’s artistic Crown Point community, the building breathes new life into the disused site of YWCA’s swimming pool. Using local materials and manufacturers where possible, the project aspired to reflect the tradition and aesthetic of Hamilton as a Steel Town. The brick clad podium mirrors the scale and materiality of the surrounding buildings and creates a tangible, visual connection between the streetscape and the community programming offered by the YWCA.


In 2021, rent prices in Hamilton skyrocketed more than 14%, leaving many with the impossible choice of either paying for shelter or paying for food. Hamilton’s waiting list for social housing is over 6,000 people. Women face unique barriers in securing safe and affordable housing and are the most vulnerable to homelessness. Safe and secure housing provides a haven for many women and children, where they are protected from abuse and given the ability to start dreaming of a brighter future.

The decision to pursue Passive House certification is consistent with that of other providers of supportive housing across the country, as it significantly reduces operating costs, while providing a high level of indoor environmental quality for residents. These attributes align with the YWCA’s core mission to provide comfortable, healthy, secure, resilient, and safe housing for women.

Construction Approach

The YWCA wanted a robust building constructed of a secure material that would signify strength and a place of safety for the community they serve. They also wanted to create a building whose material expression reflected its location in a historic manufacturing town. Cast in place concrete was initially considered, but discarded in favour of precast when the manufacturer demonstrated it could meet all the design requirements with the added benefits of precast construction.

Project Credits

  • Client YWCA Hamilton
  • Architect/Architecte  Kearns Mancini Architects Inc.
  • Structural Engineer  RJC Engineers
  • Contractor  Schilthuis Construction Inc.
  • Passive House Consultant  Kearns Mancini Architects Inc.
  • Precast Concrete Supplier  Coreslab Structures (ONT) Inc.
  • Photos  Simon Tingle, Craft Architecture Photography (photos 1, 3 and 5), Industryous Photography (photos 2, 4 and 6)
  • Drawings/ Dessins  Kearns Mancini Architects Inc.

The building orientation was determined by the site location, height and program area required. Triple-glazed windows were sized according to their orientation using passive design strategies. Detailing to maintain the thermal performance of the envelope includes the use of SIGA tapes Fentrim 430 grey around the windows, Fentrim 230 grey on the bolt connections, Fentrim 20 (or IS20) at building envelope joints, and Wigluv on the ground floor and on the elevator roof.

Irene Rivera is an Associate Architect, and Esther Van Eeden is Director of High Performance Buildings, both with Kearns Mancini Architects in Toronto with Kearns Mancini Architects.


Local 144 administrative office & training centre

Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC

Commercial/Industrial (Large) Award

Jury Comment: This project reflects the client’s remarkable commitment to exemplary building performance and the wellbeing of its employees. Low-carbon materials, a large photovoltaic array, and ultra low water consumption are combined with an attractive atrium, gardens and other social spaces.

This project arose from the desire of the plumbers’ union, the United Association – Local 144, to create a new head office and training facility for its members that would be warm, welcoming and at the same time, achieve the highest possible performance goals across a range of sustainable design criteria.

Located on an infill site in an industrial area at the east end of the Island of Montreal, the project offered both urban improvement and economic opportunities; restoring a former wasteland area and providing training facilities for local trades.

From the outset, the aim was to achieve LEED v4 Platinum certification (a first for an industrial building in Canada), with specific performance objectives including:  an 80% reduction in energy consumption, to be achieved in part by the installation of a 430-panel rooftop photovoltaic array; a reduction of 80% in potable water consumption; a partial wood structure to minimize embodied energy; passive design strategies to harvest daylight; and natural displacement ventilation for energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

The program is divided into two distinct pavilions joined by a footbridge. The differences in major occupancy, together with the required spans and spatial organization, led to the choice of a steel structure for the training centre and a mass timber structure for the administration building.

The central atrium of the Administrative building. Nordic Structures supplied FSC-certified cross-laminated timber slabs for the floor and roof, and glued-laminated timber posts and beams.

Large areas of translucent insulated panels by Kalwall on the south wall provide daylight to the workshop spaces and classrooms while maintaining a high-performance building envelope.

The heat for the radiant floors is produced by an optimized combination of geothermal and a Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada VRF air source heat pump system.

Project Credits

  • Owner/Developer  United Association – Local 144
  • Architect  Blouin Tardif Architectes
  • General contractor  SIMDEV
  • Landscape Architect  Guillaume Henri Hurbain Civil Engineer  NCK
  • Electrical/mechanical engineer  Martin & Roy Associés
  • Structural engineer  NCK
  • LEED consultant  WSP
  • Building envelope  REMATEK
  • Photos  Claude Dagenais, twohumans
  • Project Performance
  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 133 KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1-2010 = 81%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 1,612 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 81%

Project Performance

  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 133 KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1-2010 = 81%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 1,612 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 81%

Integral Group Studio

Calgary, AB

Interior Design Award

Jury Comment: As we take on the challenge of circularity in the construction industry, this beautiful contemporary office interior shows what is achievable using reclaimed materials with a combination of commitment and creativity. The sources of materials are diverse, but the resulting design is cohesive and inspiring.

Even for an interior tenant fit out like this one, location is key. The Integral Group chose the location for their new offices in the Telus Sky Building based on walkability and proximity to transit; and in the Telus Sky Building, in particular, because it was designed to LEED Platinum standards, incorporated operable windows, natural light, and displacement ventilation.

The overall office design fosters a sense of community through a central kitchen and the inclusion of areas for social interaction, including a boardroom table that converts to a pool table. In addition, a lactation room welcomes working mothers and doubles as a quiet room for those in need of a minute alone. The goal was to create a fully inclusive working environment; and all spaces within the floor plan, including meeting rooms and offices, were designed to be fully accessible.

The main door to the office was shifted to be located equidistant from the stairs and elevator to encourage staff to take the stairs when possible. The building has a triple-glazed curtain wall system with low-emissivity coatings to allow daylight into the space while maintaining thermal comfort and reducing heating and cooling loads. Operable windows allow occupants to have fresh air, limiting the amount of mechanical ventilation required. A heat wheel reduces the heating and cooling load which reduces energy use.

The all-LED lighting is equipped with occupancy and daylight sensors located throughout the office to optimize occupant visual comfort and reduce energy use. The projected annual energy consumption for the office space is approximately 177 kWh/m2.

The project had a lofty goal to exceed 100% of waste diversion from landfill, which meant diverting waste not related to this project. Many of the materials selected were salvaged from other project sites or other uses and re-purposed for this project.

The all-LED lighting is equipped with occupancy and daylight sensors located throughout the office to optimize occupant visual comfort and reduce energy use. Fan coil units were supplied by Daikin Applied.

Project Credits

  • Owner/Developer  Integral Group
  • Architect LOLA Architecture
  • General Contractor  Eton-West Construction (Alta) Inc.
  • Electrical/mechanical  Integral Group
  • Commissioning Agent  Integral Group
  • Photos  Chris Amat

Project Performance 

  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 177 KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under NECB 2011 LEED ACP = 7.2%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 7,400 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 20%
  • Recycled material content by value = 20%
  • Construction waste diverted from landfill = 100%

Kitsilano Duplex Retrofit

Vancouver, BC

Residential (Small) Award

Jury Comment: Given the requirement to maintain the historic character of the neighbourhood, and the imperative to add density by creating a duplex, meeting Passive House performance at this scale is a remarkable achievement. This project should be an inspiration for others like it in Vancouver and elsewhere.

A rare Canadian example of a Passive House EnerPHit retrofit, this duplex was fashioned from a 1940s single-family home.  The original home had been in the same family since the 1950s and had recently been gifted down to the grandson and granddaughter of the original owner. They decided to convert the house into a duplex, keeping one half each, but also decided to upgrade it to meet Passive House standards.

Development in much of Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood is subject to character retention guidelines; and balancing the required upgrade to Passive House thermal performance with the need to maintain architectural heritage was very challenging. However, by choosing to renovate rather than demolish the house and build new, the owners were able to retain more than 60% of the original framing material.

This dramatically lowered the embodied carbon of the building. By adding new structure to the existing framing, it was possible to bring the house up to current structural and seismic standards, while using far less new material than would have been required in an all-new building. Less new material, also translated into less construction waste.

It was necessary to lift the house to install a new crawl space basement which acts as a mechanical room and storage space. To further reduce embodied carbon, a ‘concrete free’ basement slab was installed, constructed with two layers of 15mm plywood laid directly on rigid insulation and compacted gravel.

The completed duplex is fully electric, with both electric heating and hot water. Rough-ins for air-to-air heat pumps were also made for future space cooling if needed. As summers in Vancouver are getting warmer, space cooling may become necessary for comfort in many buildings. The duplex is expected to use approximately 14 kWh/m²/year and is Passive house certified. Triple pane PH-certified wood windows are used within a wall assembly that consists of 2×6 framing with 4” of exterior mineral wool insulation.

The house uses triple pane Passive House-certified windows and doors by VETTA Building Technologies Inc.

A Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada ductless heat pump handles heating and cooling.

Project Credits

  • Architect  DLP Architecture
  • General Contractor  Geography Contracting
  • Photos  Michael Renaud