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Building a Passive House: What Did I Miss?

Every month, the BCSEA hosts a Climate and Energy Solutions Webinar, and we had a great one on Tuesday Nov 12th.

Rob Bernhardt, who with his son Mark has just built their own two-family Passive House in Saanich, gave us a detailed tour of the building process, showing us what make their’s a passive house that uses 90% less energy than a regular house. Yes, 90% less energy. Their heating bill for October to keep the house at a cozy 21 degrees cost them all of $20.

Only a few years ago, building a passive house was thought to be something only the Germans and Austrians could do, because it was supposed to be oh-so-difficult. But not so. Rob explained the process very clearly, from the basement insulation that acts as a warm blanket wrapping the entire underside of the house, to the triple-glazed windows and the dual-wall structure, with a 4” wall for easy servicing added onto an insulated 8” wall.

This was Rob and Mark’s first house, and they know they could reduce the cost next time round. But even so, the numbers are impressive. Their 3,800 sq. ft. two family house cost $200 a square foot, and came in at only 4.3% more than a conventional build. The additional mortgage cost is more than covered by the 90% energy savings, so they’re ahead financially, as well as living in a house that is quieter, more comfortable, and has air that is cleaner than a regular house. What’s not to like?

If you know a builder who may be even mildly interested in green building practices, invite him or her to watch the video, which is online HERE. And visit the Bernhardt Passive Home website at http://www.bernhardtpassive.com, where they have posted all the detailed building info. Rob Bernhardt’s webinar slides are here.