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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