Passive House receives international certification

Well, it’s finally official. Fort St. John’s Passive House building has been officially certified as the northern most building of its kind in North America.

The certification from the US Passive House Institute was announced in a release this morning.

The energy-efficient show home, designed by Vancouver-based Marken Design + Consulting, wrapped up construction late last year, and the city has been gearing up for the certification to officially kick start public viewings.

The house, located behind the old Fire Hall, features a four-kilowatt solar power system that will produce enough energy to power must of the house’s annual energy consumption. A release says the house will use up to 90 per cent less energy for heating and cooling, and will use up to 65 per cent less energy than a standard home.

“We estimate the utility bills to be below $40 per month for the tenants living the house,” said Alexander Maurer of Marken Designn.

“The construction costs were similar to a standard custom home in Fort St. John.”

The city began construction of the house in 2013 to showcase to housing developers and homeowners on how to build more energy efficient homes, and use more eco-friendly materials and energy systems in a northern climate.

The project has been fraught with cost overruns, however, soaring to about $600,000 to build from an initial budget of $300,000.

The house includes three bedrooms, an upstairs and downstairs living space, an office, and two full bathrooms. It also features triple pane windows and a heat recovery ventilation system.

The city has been renting the house out on a one-year term since last October to Paul Gillis and Catherine Rudell, who are gathering data about the home’s energy use. Gillis was a contractor who helped build the home, and Ruddell is an interior designer. Both have plans to build their own Passive House in the future.

The city has yet to finalize plans for the house beyond that point, which could include selling it, continuing to rent it out, or use it for employee housing.

For Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, the certification is another boost to the city’s reputation as the energy capital of the province.

“We are BC’s Energy Capital,” Ackerman said.

“To us that means energy is not just a commodity but also a responsibility. Combine that thought with monthly affordability of the operation of a home and we are very pleased to have built North America’s most northern passive house.”