Eco Flats 1.0

Upgrade preserves existing building while supporting low carbon living

By Carla Crawford

Eco Flats 1.0 is a conversion of an aged Toronto rowhouse into an energy-efficient, all-electric triplex. The ambitions for this project were: to increase urban density; provide quality housing during a housing crisis; create homes for multiple tenants that support a carbon-free lifestyle; and make it a super energy-efficient, all-electric building.

With the Ontario power grid being 94% renewable, it was not only possible to do this, but also to disconnect the original gas supply to the building. With greatly improved airtightness and super insulation, the overall energy intensity of the renovated building is 108 kWh/m2/year, an 89% reduction compared to the original.

With a walk score of 93, transit score of 99, and bike score of 100, this property was the perfect choice. The nearest intersection has two streetcar lines and one bus line, two of which connect to the subway in just a few minutes. The intersection is also a hub for the West Toronto Railpath, which connects pedestrians and cyclists to The Junction neighbourhood, and is slated for expansion that will eventually connect to downtown. In addition, the local area is well serviced with grocery stores, schools, daycares, walk-in clinics, a hospital, a YMCA, and more. Everything is accessible without reliance on a car.

The design optimizes daylighting, as well as passive heat gain and cooling. This does not always mean more glazing: large third floor windows required shading to reduce overheating. Each of the three apartments are equipped with their own independent Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), which reduces energy consumption by transferring heat and moisture from outgoing air to fresh incoming air.

The apartment layouts are designed to accommodate a variety of tenant types: individuals, families and roommates. Each apartment has its own unique entrance directly from the outside, with the upper unit entering from the front sidewalk, and the main and lower apartments entering via a communal patio space in the rear.


  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 108KWhr/m2/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB 1997 = 89%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 16,060 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 45%
  • Owner/Developer/General Contractor Lolley Knezic Projects Inc.
  • Architect  Solares Architecture Inc.
  • Mechanical Engineer  ReNü Engineering Inc.
  • Structural Engineer  Kattakar Engineering Associates Inc.
  • Commissioning Agent/Envelope Testing  Blue Green Consulting Group
  • Grey Water Systems  Greyter Water Systems
  • Photos  Solares Architecture Inc.

Lumenpulse Headquarters

New workplace mirrors client’s attention to design, and cuts energy use

By Jim Taggart

Located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal, Longueuil has long been a preferred location for leading high-tech industries including aerospace and renewable energy.

These have now been joined by Lumenpulse, an international lighting solutions company that designs, develops, manufactures and sells a wide range of high-performance, sustainable LED lighting solutions for commercial, institutional and urban environments. Together with its affiliate companies, it has successfully completed major installations in North America and Europe, including offices for Microsoft in Seattle and H&M in Florence, Italy.

The company wanted to create a head office that would embody its values of innovation, collaboration, communication and transparency, as well as serving the needs of its employees and its business operations. The site, one of many considered, was chosen for its location close to residential areas, arterial roads and transit routes for employees; and to the Montreal St. Hubert airport and Highway 10 leading to the US, to serve the needs of the company’s export business.

On the outskirts of a long-established business park, the site had been abandoned for many years.  The land was remediated in preparation for the new building, now encircled by native landscaping overlooked by patios and terraces. Existing concrete slabs were crushed for use in landscaping and existing service infrastructure was reused wherever possible.

Through its design and program organization, the new building captures and communicates the history and culture of Lumenpulse, providing the company an architectural identity that reinforces its corporate brand. Montreal-based Lemay provided transdisciplinary services in architecture, interior design, graphic design and urban planning.

The complex houses a production space, laboratory, design and engineering, offices and an experiential space, supported by robust security and electrical systems. As a whole, it is characterized by the quantity and quality of natural light and the creative use of low energy LED lighting throughout the building.

Together with a high-performance building envelope, a low-albedo white roof to reduce the heat island effect, high-efficiency mechanical systems and heat recovery ventilation, overall energy consumption is 42% less than the ASHRAE 90.1 benchmark.  Two-thirds of primary energy is renewable with fossil fuel energy used only when the systems are in heating mode.


  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 177KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB 1997 = 42.4%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 3,154 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 46.5%
  • Recycled material content by value = 12.7%
  • Regional materials (800km radius) by value = 37.5%
  • Construction waste diverted from landfill = 78.2%


  • Owner/Developer  9341-0983 Quebec Inc. 
  • Architecture/Structure/Interior Design  Lemay
  • General Contractor  Groupe Montoni (1995) Division Construction Inc.
  • Landscape Architect  Beaupre et Ass.
  • Civil Engineer Les consultants MESC
  • Electrical Engineer  Dupres Ledoux
  • Mechanical Engineer  Dupres Ledoux
  • Photos  Stephen Bruger


UBC Okanagan, Skeena Residence

Multi-unit residential building design takes care in detailing

By Brian Wakelin

The new UBCO Skeena Residence at the Okanagan Campus of the University of British Columbia comprises approximately 72,600 gross square feet over six storeys and has been designed to Passive House standards. The ground floor includes common housing amenities and building service spaces while the upper five storeys include accommodation for 220 students together with associated social spaces. Skeena completes an ensemble of residence buildings encircling the central green space on campus – known as Commons Field. The project focuses on student life and support services while meshing seamlessly with the existing campus. 

The five identical residential floors include shared bathrooms flanked by two bedrooms. This layout allows space for quiet study when required. Additionally, each floor contains both a study lounge and a house lounge with views of the surrounding mountains, the lounge being equipped with a kitchenette, dining table and couches. Locating these spaces at opposite ends of the floor ensures that quiet study is not interrupted by noise from the social home lounge.

On the first level, the Skeena Residence has a large laundry room located adjacent to the student lounge. Separated by a glass wall, the relationship between the two spaces encourages chance meetings and spontaneous gatherings. Moreover, the transparency offers passive surveillance, or visibility that promotes a sense of security. In short, the design of the building supports community life. 

The design of the Skeena residence was driven largely by the requirements of the building program and by the successful layout of the neighbouring student residence. The two bedrooms with shared bathroom module uses an optimal length and width, which also optimizes the number of floors required to accommodate the building requirements – the objective being to minimize the amount of energy required to heat and cool the building. 

This Passive House goal of minimal energy use for heating and cooling also informed other design choices. Given that irregular building forms with multiple indentations and corners, or projections such as steps, overhangs, or canopies create challenges for insulation, airtightness and the elimination of thermal bridging, a simple and efficient planar volume performs most optimally. Mechanical systems also work best within a narrow, contiguous box. This limits aesthetic parameters to material, colour, pattern, and texture. Thus, the simpler the building, the more important material choices and detailing become.

The exterior is clad in a combination of brightly coloured fibre cement panels and darker metal panels. A feeling of depth is created by bringing the fibre cement panels forward of the metal, emphasizing the depth of the window reveals.  This gives articulation to the simple form, without introducing complexity that would compromise energy performance.

Design decisions are also swayed by other practicalities such as standard and locally-available materials and techniques. The building is a wood frame with some concrete on the ground floor. A wood structure was chosen for its inherent insulative properties as well as its ready availability and ease of construction. 

Eco Habitat S1600


Low life cycle carbon footprint guides compact design

By Emmanuel Cosgrove

This prefabricated kit home (the first out of the factory) of 180 m² was originally assembled for a 2019 home show at the Montreal Olympic stadium, before being disassembled and moved to its permanent location outside the town of Wakefield. Now functioning as a family home, the operating energy consumption will be monitored and recalculated after 12 months of use.

The design objective was to create a housing option with a low ‘cradle to grave’ life cycle carbon footprint, through compact design, careful material choices, and other strategies that would further contribute to low operating energy and GHG emissions.

While new construction in both residential and commercial sectors is showing incremental reduction in operating energy and related emissions in response to higher energy efficiency standards, the ‘elephant in the room’ is ‘grey energy’ – that associated with the extraction, transportation, fabrication and installation of construction materials. Given the current average life cycle and energy performance of buildings, only about half of the energy expended over the life of a building is from the operations phase, the other half is from the construction phase.

To demonstrate the importance of calculating embodied energy, Ecohome’s Quebec-based affiliate Ecohabitation did a carbon calculation of the Eco-Habitat S1600 prefab kit house using the Athena Impact Estimator for buildings software, which assesses the environmental impact of each building component. Doing this analysis early in the design phase identifies where a building is scoring high, and enables designers to find alternative materials and products to lower the carbon impact of the project.

A low carbon building strategy begins with sourcing natural building materials produced as close to the site as possible, using the minimum amount of energy and with few if any chemical additives.

This not only reduces emissions and pollution, but equally importantly, leads to healthier and safer indoor environments for occupants.

The single greatest consideration when reducing the carbon footprint of a building is to reduce the use of concrete as much as possible; then to reduce the impact of the concrete that must be used for structural integrity or thermal mass. Look first for locally-available sources of concrete that include recycled content, or choose a formula that has a lower carbon footprint than regular concrete. Design choices can also contribute to a reduction in concrete use; for example, a slab on grade rather than a full  basement. The Wakefield S1600 house uses a slab on grade solar air-heated radiant floor.


Green Gables Visitor Centre

Phase II expansion respects tradition in pursuing LEED Gold

By Kendall Taylor

The Green Gables Visitors Centre is situated on 16 acres of rural land in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island that was the setting for the highly successful 1908 novel ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The property includes several locations familiar to readers: the main Green Gables house, the Haunted Wood trail and Lovers Lane. The property was acquired by Parks Canada in the 1930s and has become an extremely popular tourist destination for PEI.

A 2015 survey determined that the existing facilities were in need of renovation and expansion to accommodate a growing number of visitors from Canada and around the world. Parks Canada reacted by creating an extensive program which would be constructed in three distinct phases. Phase I was completed in the spring of 2017. Phase II, consisting of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Exhibition space, a main lobby atrium, a gift shop, and public washrooms, was completed in the spring of 2019.  Phase III was to decommission the temporary gift shop in Phase I and transform it into a new cafe and commercial kitchen.

The Visitors Centre acts as the main arrival point, connecting the property through a circulation axis that also frames views to the original farmhouse. A campus approach has been taken to help distribute visitors (who may number as many as 1100 at a time) across the site. Parking has been reorganized to separate bus, RV and car traffic from those who arrive by bicycle or on foot.

Parks Canada wanted a structure that would be respectful of the historic house and the vernacular buildings of the region, yet provide highly functional modern visitor facilities. Heritage restrictions apply to the Green Gables House and courtyard, but in the areas where the Visitor Centre is located are much more relaxed.  This offered the opportunity to reinterpret the wood building tradition of PEI in a contemporary way.


The Green Point Project

Achieving a world first at standard cost

By Kenneth Chooi and Ross Wood

The Green Point Project is a 2,600 sq.ft. single-family residence located on a 6.25-acre forest and sensitive shoreline in Cowichan Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island.The project is striving to achieve a world first by achieving Passive house (PH) and Living Building Challenge (LBC) certifications. Additionally, Green Point just received a third certification, Green Shores for Homes – Orca designation. Inspired by the concepts of Biophilia and Regenerative Design, the project proponents set themselves these ambitious goals within a relatively modest budget of $300/sf. 

The architecture is inspired by rural buildings of the region and First Nation’s Long Houses. Wood is used as the primary building material and the house is fitted carefully into the natural forested landscape.

Reclamation and regeneration of the natural ecosystem was guided by an integrated design process involving the municipality, biologists, archaeologists, First Nations consultants, landscape architects, conservationists, engineers, building contractors, arborists, marine ecologists and permaculture specialists.

The site had been previously altered into a private six-hole golf course and the design team felt strongly that the ecosystem was now in distress. The decision was made to begin ‘re-wilding’ the site by surveying the Garry Oak forest to understand the ancient ecosystem; removing mechanical and plastic debris from the beach and restoring the natural shoreline; transforming the putting green into a natural meadow and the ornamental garden into a permaculture-based food production system that benefits both human and animal residents of the site. The water system is a closed loop with potable water being drawn from onsite wells and wastewater being treated onsite by an aerated septic system, with effluent used to regenerate the meadow.

The Green Point Project was constructed using only low-carbon, responsibly-sourced and RED List-free materials. The embodied carbon footprint of the project was minimized through a “wood first” material strategy and by prioritizing locally-sourced and salvaged materials. The structure and envelope were primarily built with sustainably harvested FSC and salvaged wood. The decision to avoid all Red List materials supports transparency, accountability, and health within the construction industry.

Kenneth ChooI is with DSK Architects, and Ross Wood is with Counterpoise Architecture.

The house has a 95% high-efficiency HRV and back-up electrical heaters. A 35-module PV system is expected to generate more energy than will be consumed. Passive House-certified windows and doors by Fenstur.


  • Owner/Developer  Fiona McLagan and Kenneth Chooi
  • Architect and Design Team  DSK Architecture with the Green Point Design Collective,
  • Nido Design and Ross Wood
  • General Contractor  Bernhardt Contracting
  • Electrical and Mechanical Engineer  Integral Engineering
  • Structural Engineer  Sorensen Trilogy Structural Engineering Solutions
  • Landscape Architect  Victoria Drakeford Landscape Architecture with
  • Lunar Bloom Landscaping
  • Commissioning Agent  Earth Cycle Technologies (Passive House),
  • Bernhardt Contracting (HRV)
  • Energy Modelling  Nido Design
  • Photos  Rob Wilson    


  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 15 kwhr/m²/year
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = none
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building = 100 %
  • Recycled material content by value = 98%
  • Regional materials (800km radius) by value = 99%
  • Construction waste diverted from landfill = 99%

Shifting Gears

Passive House the most cost effective for seniors housing and health centre

By Andrew Peel, Peel Passive House Consulting

The world’s first certified Passive House car  dealership opened for business in the fall of 2019.  Designed by Cover Architectural Collaborative, Sublime Design and Peel Passive House Consulting and constructed by Black Creek Developments, the 2,420 m² (26,020 ft²) facility in Red Deer, Alberta houses the new Scott Subaru dealership.  It coincides with the 50th anniversary of The Scottsville Auto Group who developed the project.


While not an avid environmentalist, owner/developer Garrett Scott sought a low impact building that would support his growing business and recognized the myriad benefits of constructing to the Passive House Standard.

This is not the first environmental building initiative Subaru has undertaken.  Its Indiana automotive assembly plant was the first zero-landfill factory in the US and inspired the decision to pursue Passive House certification on this project.

Setting the Standard

Most, if not all, large car manufacturers have strict corporate standards regarding aesthetics, layout, and service requirements for their facilities and Subaru is no exception. In addition to these corporate standards, the client had some of its own. Chief among these was that any decisions made in pursuit of Passive House certification must not compromise customer or vehicle service in any way.  An additional major factor impacting the design was the local winter design temperature of -20oF (-29oC). Navigating these requirements proved challenging and demanded the best of the whole design and construction teams. 

Base Design

The building is divided into three main zones: a showroom, a repair shop, and a car drop-off zone. The showroom includes a car display area, customer reception and lounge and sales offices on the first floor, and back offices, meeting rooms, and staff kitchen on the second floor. The repair shop comprises a ground floor with 6 service bays and parts storage, and a second floor with mezzanine, storage, and cat walk.  The drop-off zone is a single storey area used to collect customers’ cars for repair and show off new cars housed in the parking lot to customers at night and during periods of inclement weather.


– Walls: 305-mm (12-in.) LVL studs filled with cellulose; 76-mm (3-in.) exterior insulation and 2×6 interior service cavity. Usi = 0.084 W/m2K (R-68)

– Floor: 305 mm (12-in.) below-slab floor insulation that fully wraps the footings.  Usi = 0.109 W/m2K (R-52)

– Roofs: 1,340mm (52-in) cellulose-filled, open-web wood truss roofs. Usi = 0.040 W/m2K (R-145).

One key envelope challenge was to mitigate the impact of the 65 per cent glazing on the west facing storefront dictated by corporate design requirements. Red Deer lies between two of the country’s sunniest cities, Calgary and Edmonton, receiving up to 50 per cent more west radiation than is typical in Germany (the conditions for which the Passive House Standard was originally developed).


The customer reception area. Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada  provided the split-type heat-pumps units, both indoor and out, and low profile fan coils.


Architecture  Cover Architectural Collaborative and Sublime Design

Mechanical & Electrical  908 Engineering

Passive House Consultant and Energy Modelling  Peel Passive House Consulting

Construction Manager  Black Creek Developments


OCH Carlington Hub

Passive House the most cost effective for seniors housing and health centre

By Stephen Pope and Marc Mainville

This new four-storey development in Ottawa serves as a mixed-use “hub” which combines affordable seniors housing for Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) with the Carlington Community Health Centre (CCHC). Affordable rental housing for seniors includes 42 independent living rental apartment suites on the upper three floors. The project marks the first time the city’s public-housing agency has partnered with a community health centre to build independent-living units for seniors with on-site health services.

Services include a medical clinic, diabetes clinic, community meeting spaces, nutrition consultants, seniors’ cooking, exercise and other classes, and a choir. Residents of this building have a welcoming and supportive environment to learn new things, meet new people, improve their quality of life and have fun.

The existing Community Health Centre, to which this project connects, sits on the eastern end of the site. The four-storey addition extends along the west side of the existing building and has a generous yard providing individual suites with unobstructed views and lots of natural light. 

The long building has been articulated to break down the mass and add visual interest along Coldrey Avenue. The site was designed to maximize the amount of green space on the property: the 64 parking spaces were the minimum number required to comply with local zoning bylaws and new trees have been incorporated throughout the site (specifically in the parking lot to reduce the amount of asphalt). 

Internally, apartment units are designed with an open-concept to maximize the sense of space within a very compact layout. Windows are sized to optimize and balance the need for light and quality of view with energy efficiency demands on heating and cooling.

The large windows have an operating section that gives residents access to the sounds and smells of the neighbourhood. Operable windows are not needed for fresh air as the balanced ventilation system is designed with a capacity for two persons per suite but is run at 0.36 ACH, or 30 m3/h/occupant. Public corridors, stairwells and common laundry rooms all feature large windows to provide natural light and a connection to the exterior throughout the facility.

In accordance with the principles of the WELL Building certification, the design has a strong connection to nature both in the layout and the use of materials. Exposed wood accents are used throughout the building including two mass timber canopies and vestibules at the main entrances. Polished concrete floors are used throughout for durability and cleanliness.

The site had little room for special rain water collection equipment, nor the budget for greywater reuse. The focus of water conservation indoors was on the fixtures, namely, pressure-assisted flush toilets, and low-flow shower heads. The focus outdoors was on reducing demand through appropriate planting and management.

The priority in this project was to implement, for the first time, a Passive House design for affordable senior housing in a mixed-use building. Material consumption is addressed through durable construction and attention to construction and demolition waste diversion from landfill. All specifications called for materials with a high recycled content and all wood was FSC certified. The exterior enclosure is Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) composed of 300 mm EPS insulation. The main interior structure is steel infilled with wood framing for the floor and roof assemblies. All partition walls are wood except at the exit stairs which are required to be noncombustible construction.

Stephen Pope, OAA, BArch, BES, FRAIC, Associate ASHRAE is Sustainability Consultant, and Marc Mainville, MArch is an Intern Architect, both of CSV Architects.

The project is four storeys of independent-living units for seniors with on-site health services – a first for the city. Alumicor supplied the thermally-broken curtain wall, which contributed to the overall energy efficiency of the OCH building envelope.

Foundation wall construction. Quad-Lock’s insulated concrete form homes and buildings can offer exceptional indoor environments, ultra-energy efficiency and higher safety ratings at a lower cost of ownership.


  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 132 KWhr/m²/year
  • Reduction in energy intensity = 49%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 39,384 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building = 40%


  • Owner/Developer  Ottawa Community Housing
  • Architect  CSV Architects
  • General Contractor  MacDonald Bros Construction
  • Civil Engineer  McIntosh Perry
  • Mechanical / Electrical Engineer  WSP Group Inc.
  • Structural Engineer  Cleland Jardine Engineering
  • Landscape Architect  McIntosh Perry
  • Commissioning Agent  Geo Energie
  • Photos  Krista Jahnke

Aurora Coast Cannabis Innovation Centre

Well being, energy and water conservation top the list at research station



By Heidi Nesbitt

Aurora Coast is a new cannabis research centre located in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. This unique facility provides a supportive and nurturing workplace for Aurora’s scientists to expand their genetics and breeding research, with the goal of realizing the full human benefit of the cannabis plant. 


The project aims to transform public perception of a previously illegal, underground industry, by housing it in a facility that fosters creativity and innovation. The first phase of the project consists of a mass timber building containing offices, labs, meeting rooms and support spaces for the adjacent greenhouse. A transparent network of collaborative workplace hubs was designed to encourage informal interaction and enhance the creative potential of the research team. 

As a project centred around plant health and vitality, every aspect of the building and site is designed to connect occupants to nature and to support health and well-being: an exposed, mass-timber structure was chosen for its low environmental footprint, and to provide a biophilic backdrop to what might otherwise have been a sterile laboratory environment; clerestorey windows bring natural daylight deep within the high-security, restricted-access areas; and views are provided to the restored pollinator habitat and orchard that surrounds the building. 

Cannabis facilities face unique challenges, including security, odour control and public stigma. To help gain the support of the local community, a large, environmentally degraded, industrial site at a prominent intersection was rejuvenated by providing extensive, on-site stormwater management, and by restoring the ecological integrity of several hectares of land. The larger environmental challenge was to provide cannabis plants with the steady warmth, light and water they need to thrive without creating additional strain on local resources. 

Heidi Nesbitt, Architect AIBC CP MRAIC LEED AP  ENV SP, is an associate with Local Practice architecture + Design in Vancouver.


  • Owner/Developer  Aurora Cannabis
  • Architect  Local Practice Architecture + Design
  • Interiors  Albright Design
  • General Contractor  Heatherbrae Builders
  • Landscape Architect  Lanarc
  • Civil Engineer  McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.
  • Electrical/Mechanical/Structural Engineers  Associated Engineering (B.C.) Ltd.
  • Envelope Consultant RDH
  • Passive House Consultant  Tandem Architecture Écologique
  • Greenhouse Consultant  ALPS


  • Energy intensity (building) = 162 KWhr/m²/year
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 8135 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building = 5 %


Fort St. John Apartment Building

One of the largest PH projects in Canada takes a simple, compact form

This six-storey wood frame building was developed through an integrated design and delivery process, to provide workforce rental housing for the duration of a large provincial project, before converting to affordable family housing for the community. The program consists of 50 units (two- and three-bedroom suites), common interior and exterior amenity spaces, fitness room, bicycle storage, outdoor playground and landscaped rain gardens. 

By Low Hammond Rowe Architects

The plan is a simple double-loaded corridor scheme with inset stairwells, central elevators and a 9-degree bend, symmetrical through the centre of the building. This simple gesture accentuates the main entrance when viewed from the street, orients half the building façade further towards the south, creates a natural break in the west façade, accommodates exterior balconies connected to common amenity rooms on each floor, and provides a larger landscaped setting for the ground-level suites on the east side. 

The north-south orientation provides each tenant access to direct sunlight and realizes an optimum use of the site with quality outdoor spaces. Each façade is designed to respond to the specific solar orientations of the site, while maintaining a cohesive character that is complementary, yet distinct from non-passive house, multi-family housing in the community.

The main exterior cladding is a cementitious rainscreen system, with deep recessed triple-glazed fiberglass windows and metal flashing surrounds. To achieve the required 200 mm insulation thickness and facilitate installation of exterior strapping, the thickness of the exterior plywood sheathing was increased, eliminating the need to blindly fasten the exterior strapping through to structural studs. This gave flexibility for placement of cladding strapping to suit the cladding joint patterns and colour changes. 

Not only did this construction method improve the construction schedule, the ease of maintaining the air barrier resulted in an air tightness reading of 0.2 air changes per hour in the final pressurization test. 

A mono-sloped roof system was built continuously under the mechanical penthouse to reduce the surface area of the Passive House envelope. The single-sloped roof is drained to the east through four scuppers connected to rainwater leaders aligned flush with the exterior cladding, avoiding unwanted roof penetrations and diverting roof water directly to rain gardens below. 

The building is heated and cooled by a heat recovery variable refrigerant volume air source heat pump system. The suites are ventilated by a central ERV, providing both fresh air supply and exhaust air extraction. The main floor auxiliary rooms have smaller dedicated ERVs.

All lighting fixtures are LED. Daylight sensor switches are used to control lights in common areas where enough daylight can be used and exterior lighting fixtures are controlled by photocells. The south façade incorporates larger windows into the living spaces, shaded with lightly louvered horizontal sunshades. North-facing windows are minimized with main living spaces receiving daylight from the east and west wherever possible. More than 90% of occupied spaces are within 7m of a window.

Fresh air is introduced through the ERVs and operable windows, providing an air change rate of 0.48ACH. The high-performance building envelope, passive solar design, and highly effective heat recovery ventilation reduce overall heating needs by nearly 90%, as compared to a traditional building of this scale.

Even in the cold climate of Fort St. John, these measures cause a shift from heating to cooling demand, making an electric air source heat pump space conditioning system practical and cost effective. The single VRV system can heat and cool the building, providing room level zone control, while also allowing the reject heat from cooling in one area to be used directly for space heating in another area.

In this city of 20,000, the centre of British Columbia’s oil and gas industry, the electric system allows for an easy transition away from fossil fuel use in the future, if desired by the owner.

LHRA is a privately owned Canadian architectural practice in Victoria, British Columbia, with a 34-year continuous history of operation.

Fiberglass triple pane windows with krypton gas fill by Duxton Windows & Doors.


  • Owner/Developer  BC Housing Corporation
  • Architect  Low Hammond Rowe Architects
  • Design-build Constructor  WCPG Construction Ltd.
  • Landscape Architect  Murdoch deGreeff
  • Civil Engineer  WSP CANADA
  • Electrical Engineer Beairsto  & Associates Engineering Ltd.
  • Mechanical Engineer (HVAC)  RENÜ Engineering Inc.
  • Mechanical Engineer (Plumbing)  Beairsto  & Associates Engineering Ltd.
  • Structural Engineer  Beairsto  & Associates Engineering Ltd.
  • Commissioning Agent  E3  ECO Group Inc, West Rockies Services
  • Passive House Consultant / Energy Modelling  Marken Design +Consult
  • Energy Consultant  RENÜ Engineering Inc.
  • Building Envelope Consultant  Aqua-coast Engineering Ltd.
  • Geotechnical Consultant  Northern Geo Testing & Engineering
  • Photos  SILENTSAMA Architectural Photography


  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 119.96kwhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under = 65%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 219,000 litres/occupant/year
  • Recycled material content by value = 12%
  • Regional materials (800km radius) by value =33 %
  • Construction waste diverted from landfill = 81%