Passivhaus homes and multi-units?

10 Replies

Hello builders out in BP land.

Those who have read many of my posts here on BP will note that sustainability and energy efficiency are core to our real estate business plan.  We began by purchasing older (as in Second Empire, Victorian, Edwardian, with a couple of post WWII houses) buildings and renovating them to be healthy energy efficient homes for our tenants.

Our roadmap has always had the longer term objective of building new multi-unit buildings (townhouses and/or apartment complexes) to Passivhaus standards.  There have been thousands of Passivhaus multi-unit buildings erected in Europe and a {scant} few in North America (none in the Maritimes), so the idea and the building techniques have been proved. 

The inner geeks in my partner and myself are thrilled with the idea of a townhouse whose total utility consumption is less than $150 - 250 per year ... or a 25-unit apartment building with energy costs in the range of $5K (or less).  I also think there is enough awareness these days to have a small, but growing, clientele for such accommodations.

I wanted to reach out to see if there are any developers here on Bigger Pockets who are already building Passivhaus SFRs or MFRs and to learn about the construction approaches you are taking (built in-place versus modular or panel (SIPs)); the build premium to arrive a the Passivhaus standard (in parts of Europe, the premium appears to be 10-15% on MFH properties ... with an 80+% reduction in energy/resource operating costs, the payback is very quick); and whether you are finding buyers or renters willing to pay a premium for the efficiency.

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@Roy N.  

I have no experience doing this, but I'm glad to see others bringing it up.

I have never heard of Passivehaus, so I am going to do some research now.  It is in comparison to LEED and/or Energy Star?  I have previously passed the LEED Green Associate exam, so I have some knowledge in the basics.

I'm going to follow this topic! Thanks

@Ryan VanPatten  

LEED is quite different in its approach and nowhere near as demanding as Passivhaus in its energy use limitations for heating & cooling loads and electrical consumption. 

If you were to look at the HERS (Home Energy Rating System), where a house built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code scores 100, and a true Net Zero home would score 0 {but ironically could be nowhere near that efficient, but use solar, geothermal, or wind to generate electricity as an offset}, an EnergyStar or LEED home would score around 80 - 85, while a Passivhaus would score in the range of 20 - 30.  [Lower is better].

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@Roy N.  

Thanks..I'm definitely going to read some more about it.

@Roy N.  

Thanks for this thread. I'm geeked out about this subject too.   I don't have any experience with Passivhaus, but my new build more efficient rentals rent easier and at a premium to my older places.  I think it is in part because of reduced energy costs, in part because of better window placement and light and in part because new is shinier.  I often wonder - like you if there would be a market for more efficient places.  I know habitat for humanity has done a number of these projects.  Here is a link I found:

http://www.greenhammer.com/portfolio/commercial/ne...

I am thinking about building a passive solar, super insulated house for myself with the intention of living in it for a couple of years and then selling and moving again.  The idea would be to experiment with some of the things I have been reading about and see what I like, and also avoiding some capital gains taxes.  I would have to keep it in the range of what would retail well, so I am going to follow this thread too.

Yes, thanks for this thread!  Looking forward to learning more.

Recently we met with a guy, Mike O'Connor, who has a newly built green rental complex in Milwaukee. I don't think it's Passivhaus, but he's likely to be familiar with that and can probably tell you what he considered for his LEED Platinum designs. 

Here is the website for his property.   

http://dominion-properties.com/Development/SageOnJackson/

Originally posted by @Tanya F. :

Yes, thanks for this thread!  Looking forward to learning more.

Recently we met with a guy, Mike O'Connor, who has a newly built green rental complex in Milwaukee. I don't think it's Passivhaus, but he's likely to be familiar with that and can probably tell you what he considered for his LEED Platinum designs. 

Here is the website for his property.   

http://dominion-properties.com/Development/SageOnJackson/

 Interesting project ... the building envelope is not in the same league as a Passivhaus or Minergie-P, but the project does illustrate the different approach of LEEDs certification which allows you to trade off a certain number of points in one category (envelope rightness and insulation) by making them up in another (use of PV arrays and green roofs).

1(506) 471-4126

@Roy N.  

Have you done any of these types of builds? do you know of any that have been built in Canada? from what I am reading this standard applies only to the envelope?

@Roy N. ,

You got me researching this. Very cool.   Have you seen this page?

www.phius.org/find-phius-certified-professionals/f...

There's a list there of certified consultants and builders who can probably answer some questions. I'm excited to see there are a couple in my city. I may have a chat with one of them to see their take on how this is catching on.

Originally posted by @Joshua Berube :

@Roy N. 

Have you done any of these types of builds? do you know of any that have been built in Canada? from what I am reading this standard applies only to the envelope?

 Joshua,

We have not gotten there yet, but are planning a set of 6-8 townhouses   We have employed several of the Passivhaus renovation components.

There are probably 100(ish) Passivhaus SFHs in Canada, and very few multi-units.  A very good example is Austria House in Whistler.  It was built for the Austrian delegation during the 2010 Olympics and gifted to Whistler afterwards.

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Hey Roy,

I had some experience designing/building LEED and sustainable buildings in my former life. Not sure whether you work with any architects, but you should reach out to Sheena Sharp of Cool Earth Architecture in Toronto.  Their entire practice is focused around adaptive reuse and Net Zero building design.  She is VERY passionate about it.  www.coolearth.ca

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