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Summer Reflections PHC


Summer is a time for reflection, whether you’re at the cabin, on the beach, or on a mountain top. How we are doing in our mission to transform Canada’s buildings? How far have public policies and programs carried us from our start as a small, volunteer based group of environmental enthusiasts? How will new talent launch us to the next phase and what does our path to new growth look like?

Reflection is an opportunity for us to recognize our progress and celebrate our accomplishments. I’ve had the opportunity to connect and work with people who’ve helped make a measurable impact in the way we build today, standing out for their commitment to protect our natural environment and have a positive influence on our industry. It has been a privilege to be part of developing policies such as the UN Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency in Buildings, our national buildings strategy, the BC Energy Step Code, and local government bylaws. Low energy Passive House buildings are no longer a “niche” movement. Many government agencies are establishing low energy building guidelines, the collective impact of which is to create a fundamental change in how Canadian buildings are designed and built.

Recent federal, provincial and city budgets have allocated billions of dollars to support these policies, with several governments funding initiatives that Passive House Canada advocated for on your behalf.

Although progress often appears frustratingly slow from the front lines, we are seeing a fundamental shift in attitudes across the country, starting with the leaders in government and industry. This shift then permeates institutions, housing agencies, and governments that previously viewed Passive House performance levels as unrealistic. In meetings with these influential organizations, we hear them commit to that level of performance, or seriously consider doing so. Our members work in delivering low energy Passive House buildings in their communities across Canada has played a vital role in giving government and institutions the courage to make these commitments.

Once there is commitment to high-performance standards, projects follow at scale as confidence and awareness grows. Rapid expansion of energy efficient projects in Canada is supported by the many incentive programs, investments in research, building code & standard development, publicly funded communications programs, and more.  All of this creates a foundation for more projects and growing confidence in achieving policy objectives, creating new opportunities in the marketplace.

Our commitment is to work on behalf of our members across the country to support market transformation. Often, engagement at the city level produces tangible results; ensuring there are adequate educational opportunities, local events, project tours, and study groups.  These activities have a significant impact, particularly when such programs are part of a national system, leveraging the resources and lessons learned in other locations. As we at Passive House Canada expand our staff capacity, our areas of expertise, our numbers, and our geographical locations, we increase the extent to which our range of services can be offered locally to support you.

Over a year ago we planned to hold our Annual Conference in Toronto and to have the event catalyse the growth of Passive House levels of performance in the central Canadian market. The impact has been greater than we anticipated, not only because of our work, but because of the level of market readiness to transition to affordable, efficient buildings. Please do not miss the opportunity to attend the conference and speak with those who are changing how we build and encouraging innovation!

This fall, we will be collaborating as a team to identify our priorities and develop an operating plan for 2020, building on what has been achieved and improve our capacity to support market transformation. Expect to see a broader array of online and in-class educational opportunities, more events, more speaking opportunities, greater technical support, expanded working relationships with local governments, more media activity, and expanded member services. We’re excited to share this with you during our AGM at the conference.

With a strategic public policy and budgetary framework in place, the services we offer are able to support and accelerate the attainment of our mission, and the market transformation the world needs. If you are reading this article, you have probably played a role in the progress made over the past few years, and should be proud of how you have contributed. In what remains of our short Canadian summer, please take some time to reflect on your contribution to date, acknowledge your own successes, and think about how you can continue to support our common mission.


Rob Bernhardt, CEO

Post-Conference Letter from the CEO

Our conference theme of ‘Partnering for Transformation’ meant different things to different people. For most, the central goal of attending was to learn from fellow practitioners, contractors, developers, and manufacturers.  For others it was an opportunity to network, build contacts, and grow their community.

What we all gained was the opportunity to see first-hand, the incredible momentum that Passive House is gaining in Canada. Just a few short years ago, it seemed that very few people understood the solutions Passive House professionals were offering.

As Canada’s building market changes and Passive House becomes known, one thing becomes clearer: that we are all dependent on a supportive policy environment. Without governments, municipalities, associations, and educational institutions on board we are swimming against the current.

During conference, the federal government took the opportunity to say it is probable that the final tier of the Net Zero Energy Ready Code will be very close to Passive House standards. While it might not seem as such, this is a significant win for Canada, and the result of our national buildings strategy building upon the experience in leading cities and provinces.

If there is one thing that everyone can walk away from this conference with, we hope it is a sense of the important difference each of us can make by working with our governments to advance building standards.  Attend meetings, make submissions and participate in the numerous processes preceding policy implementation.  Collectively, we can make a real difference.

Some provincial incentive programs are working to encourage developers to build to a higher standard and targeting Passive House certification in building components and demonstration projects. These clear indicators of the future should give everyone the confidence in the work that our community has done, and the investments being made in policy, training, and product development to meet the demands of the future market.

We want to thank everyone who has worked to advance Passive House in Canada, and to all those who helped make this conference a success.  Our objective with this conference was to create an opportunity for people to gather together, learn from each other, and become excited about the future of building in Canada. We hope that the conference left you feeling inspired and looking forward to market transformation.


Rob Bernhardt