Frequently Asked Questions

How are Passive house’s more energy efficient and climate-friendly then typical homes?

Passive houses aim to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency and climate-consciousness by designing the homes function and style based on its geographical location, solar orientation, and climatic region. With these aspects in mind, the house is modelled by a Passive House Institute Certified Professional using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) to ensure the building will meet the high performance requirements of the Passive House Standard. A Passive House is characterized by having very high insulation levels in all of its assemblies and achieving excellent airtightness, resulting in minimal heat loss through the building envelope. With consideration of the building’s geographical location and orientation, thoughtful placement of windows and overhangs allow Passive Houses to maximize passive solar gains. High-efficiency heating and cooling systems, as well as heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems, are incorporated to further reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the home. The combination of high R-Value assemblies, passive solar design, and efficient HVAC systems, mean that Passive Houses use very little energy, and thus have very low emissions. Passive Houses consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings. Renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic (solar panels) are often installed so that the building generates all of its energy needs. With all of these features, Passive Houses produce little to no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making them sustainable and climate-friendly.

How do I get my home Passive Certified?

A Passive House Certification is internationally recognized as the highest level of building efficiency through all stages of design, construction and livability. Within the BC Building Code, homeowners can voluntarily adopt the Passive House Standard to achieve and exceed the highest step levels of the BC Energy Step Code.

To start the certification process you will need to engage a Passive Certifier approved by the Passive House Institute, ideally at the beginning of a new construction project. To find a Passive House Professional or learn more about where to get started, contact Passive House Canada.

What is a Passive House?

Passive Certified Buildings are residential, commercial and/or industrial buildings that have voluntarily adopted a building design and development that incorporates and implements the highest level of building envelope energy efficiency, comfort and climate-consciousness. Passive House buildings consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings. Passive houses achieve these high levels of performance by requiring building envelope airtightness of 0.6 air changes per hour (ACH @50Pa) or less, and utilizing renewable energy technologies (ie. Solar Photovoltaic, solar domestic hot water systems, etc.).

What are the benefits of building an energy efficient home?

Buildings built to higher energy-efficiency standards provide multiple benefits to those who live within them and to the community-at-large. A home built with high insulation levels, air-tight construction, high-quality windows, and more efficient mechanical systems are often preferred as they:

  • Improve comfort, by better managing temperature: high insulation levels and air-tight construction and appropriate ventilation controls the air from entering or exiting the home, maintaining warm temperatures in the winter, and cool temperatures in the summer.
  • Improve health, by better managing fresh air throughout the building: building a new home with an HRV provides ample fresh air even when the windows are closed, filtering and pre-warming incoming air for better health and exchanging heat to save energy.
  • Reduce noise: high levels of insulation, air-tightness, and high-efficiency windows can reduce unwanted outdoor noise. This is especially beneficial for homes built in busy or noisy areas or for individuals who enjoy peace and quiet.
  • Require less energy: high-efficiency heating equipment, paired with an efficient building envelope, requires less energy to heat and cool a home, which reduces the ongoing monthly and annual operating costs of the home.
  • Have lower greenhouse gas emissions: buildings are a significant source of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Building a home to high energy efficiency standards reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and reduces your personal household environmental footprint.
  • Are more durable: energy efficient homes are constructed with an enhanced focus on the building envelope with better design and construction practices, which generally enhances the quality of the home.

For more information see BC Housing’s guide Consumer Guide to High Performance Homes.

How do I apply for ENERGY STAR® certification?

Certain building types can achieve ENERGY STAR certification. ENERGY STAR certified commercial and institutional buildings have a high level of energy performance and meet strict standards set by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). To qualify, you must do the following:

  1. Benchmark your data – Use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark your building with at least 12 consecutive months of metered energy data.
  2. Run a data quality check – Make sure your data is accurate by running a data quality check in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
  3. Score higher than 75 – Your building needs to earn a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score of at least 75 and meet certain other criteria.
  4. Verify your application – Have a licensed professional confirm that the information provided in the application is accurate before it is submitted to NRCan.

For more information, visit NRCan’s guide on applying for ENERGY STAR certification in Canada.

What are the benefits of energy efficient buildings?

Canada’s commercial building sector is a significant energy user and producer of carbon emissions. It includes a range of building types, including offices, hospitals, schools, and more. Buildings retrofitted to higher energy-efficiency standards provide multiple benefits to those who own and occupy them, including:

  • Long-term energy and cost savings: an energy efficient building will have the advantage of lower energy, water, and maintenance costs.
  • Lower emissions and overall environmental impact: energy efficient buildings have lower greenhouse gas emissions due to their reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Buildings that use primarily clean energy such as hydroelectricity have the lowest emissions.
  • Better thermal comfort: well-designed mechanical systems and building components work together to manage comfortable indoor temperatures.
  • Improved comfort and health: continuous ventilation and fresh air throughout the building can lead to better well-being with occupants and as a result, a more productive workforce.
  • Higher Value: businesses and consumers see the value in energy efficient buildings, and as a result there is a premium associated with buying or leasing space in well-built, energy efficient buildings.

Check out our resources for commercial buildings for more information.

See FortisBC’s Energy-Saving Tips for Business.