CEO Letter – February

Several exciting things are happening at Passive House Canada this month. Chief among them is our finished Concept Development Report for a Zero Emissions Buildings Exchange for the Great Toronto Hamilton Area. Buildings represent the largest source of carbon emissions in the GTHA. Our report for The Atmospheric Fund highlights the marketplace transformation in Ontario and how the GTHA can become a leader, setting the pace in delivering climate and people-friendly buildings. I encourage you to read the article further down in this newsletter and download a copy of our report. I’d like to know what you think.

Building Pioneer and Saskatoon native Harold Orr was a recent guest on my monthly Building Conversations show. You may know Harold as the man who invented the blower door test and equipment, and was instrumental in creating the Saskatchewan Conservation House in 1977. We also know Harold as a recipient of the Order of Canada, and someone still involved in high-performance buildings. I say this to highlight that Canada has been at the forefront of zero-emission buildings for many years. We should be proud of that. Harold has been recognized for his contributions to the Passive House Institute building standard — but he’s not resting on his laurels. Stay tuned, because I’ve invited him back to talk about his life and his current work.

We continue to delve into supporting the development of a national harmonized Canadian building code to promote Passive House design principles and standards. We have written the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, to voice your concerns with the unilateral cancellation of mandatory airtightness testing for large buildings. This was done by the executive committee of the federal group facilitating the development of the new code. So far, no answer from the Minister, but this is a complex issue for his staff, and we will give him some time to respond. Again, stay tuned.

A trend is emerging, identified by where our students are coming from and who is visiting our website. It highlights the growth of Passive House in central Canada. Since its inception in Canada, Passive House has been very popular in British Columbia. Many cities and towns, led by Vancouver, Richmond, Victoria, and Fort Saint John, have helped define and grow Passive House’s acceptance. With that strong foundation, it is delightful to see growth in Ontario, both in students and in visitors seeking information on our website. Passive House truly is leading the way, and I am so glad it is gaining widespread acceptance in Ontario.

One final thought, the focus of government and designers too often is on new buildings. We need to be reminded that deep energy retrofits are how this country will meet its climate change challenges. Specifically, we need the government to focus on tower renewal. In talking with partners in this area, it’s estimated there are 10,000 mid-to high-rise residential towers in Canada in desperate need of revitalization. It makes economic sense for the owners to retrofit to the EnerPHit standard for a whole host of reasons, with one being savings. Look for us to bring more focus to this need in the months ahead.