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A home is more than a floor plan. Based on the Passive House Principles presented earlier, there are a lot of details to get right beyond a simple floor plan. If you want a performance home, that has predictable energy usage, it comes at a price. That premium is a small price to pay. The final outcome is a predictable home. Working with an architect and/or a passive house consultant is probably the most important part of the project. Without their expertise, you'll still end up with a super-insulated house which will decrease your energy bill, but other details may be missed. Will overheating be a factor? Do you need extra overhangs to minimize solar gain during the summer? Do your north facing windows loose more energy in the winter than the solar gains on the south face? These questions can be answered up front, before the home gets built! Thats the job of the Passive House consultant.
We wanted to keep our business as local as possible. As there are no Passive House consultants in Newfoundland & Labrador, naturally we looked to Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has made leaps and strides in implementing Passive House. There are already many buildings constructed and Nova Scotia government has even funded Passive House projects for multi-family housing and have provided up to $10000 incentives for homeowners wishing to build a Passive House! (https://www.efficiencyns.ca/service/new-home-construction/) Forget about the minor insulation upgrades that we receive from the Take Charge program in NL! These guys are going all the way! And I can understand why; Nova Scotia gets most of its power from burning coal. They have a time-of-use system for charging customers based on the time of the day. Their energy costs vary from $.08/kWh to $0.19/kWh. Cutting energy usage is a huge mandate on their list of "to-dos". I doubt that we will see anything like this here anytime soon given the state of Muskrat falls. Giving people rebates so their power bills are less just means that we'll be paying less to pay for the cost of the project.
I decided to contact Natalie Leonard, P. Eng CPHC. Natalie has been involved in over 40 projects to date and has been very successful in the field. One of her designers, Mike Anderson, is the lead project designer. Both Natalie and Mike are very knowledgeable. Mike has a degree in physics so which seems like an natural match for performance homes that involve a lot of physics! Her company (Passive Design Solutions: http://passivedesign.ca) was an obvious choice after I had been involved in several lengthly phone conversations. It seemed like a natural match. Here is a link showing some completed homes based on their designs: http://passivedesign.ca/projects.html
I decided early in the game that I would have to complete the PHIUS builders course myself since there are no Passive House builders in NL. Natalie was teaching the course at Ryerson University in Toronto in December, so I had the opportunity to complete the course and meet Natalie in person. I can say that it was an amazing course! Natalie did a great job teaching it and her knowledge of the content was obvious.
I am glad that we have Passive E-Design working on this project with us. There is a contract (in writing), it's all spelled out and I know upfront about what is expected from me and what I can expect from them. All aspects of the building will be planned; from lighting to plumbing to ventilation; all optimized to minimize energy use. That being said, the first round of schematics, including lot placements, are completed! I'll discuss lot placement and the house schematics tomorrow!