Find Out Why We Built a Passive House in Ottawa

Canadian passive house builder, Paul Kealey

Author: Paul Kealey, Sustainable Building Expert

Ottawa passive house design and construction is becoming more widely known as homeowners realize that substantially lower running costs are the hallmark of this building standard.

If you’re interested in owning a more energy efficient home, you may well be familiar with ENERGY STAR, R-2000, LEED for Homes, and Greenhouse. These homes may be considered ‘energy-efficient’ but they all have one thing in common: they require a furnace or boiler for the heating system. This is what separates a passive house from other energy efficient home construction methods.

A home designed to the Passive House standard has a heat demand that is so low, that an air-to-air source heat pump is all that’s required to make the house comfortable and liveable all year round.

No furnace or boiler is required in a passive house, not even here in Eastern Ontario where we can experience a 60 degree temperature swing across the seasons (from 30 celsius in July to -30 in January). Enjoy supreme comfort in all weather.

In fact, passive houses allow for energy savings related to space heating and cooling of up to 90% when compared with typical building stock, and over 75% in comparison to average new home builds.

How the Passive House Works

  • A strong building envelope provides the bones for an energy efficient build. A tight envelope with good windows, doors, insulation, and attention to eliminating air leakages and thermal bridges provides a critical starting point.
  • Building design that incorporates efficient use of the sun in tandem with internal heat sources and heat recovery, makes it possible for the passive house to operate without conventional heating systems in even the coldest Canadian winters.
  • Smart use of shade contributes to keeping a passive house naturally cool in the warmer months.
  • Fresh air is kept circulating with the aid of a ventilation system, resulting in superior air quality and doing away with the unpleasant drafts associated with conventional homes.

While we will breakdown some of the above elements of a passive house build on this site, here’s a video that explains the passive house concept in just 90 seconds by Hans-Jörn Eich. Eich is a certified Passive House Consultant by the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany, and the founder of Pinwheel.

Passive House Benefits

Homes built to the passive house standard, which is explained as a series of Design Fundamentals by the Canadian Passive House Institute, come with many benefits, including:

  • Lower energy bills, resulting in a less costly home to run is far and away the most exciting feature for any homeowner. It goes without saying that this also translates into reduced dependence on fossil fuels and external utilities.
  • Improved comfort is a less tangible, but very real gain. Unlike the temperature roller coaster that more conventional homes ride and control with heating and cooling systems, passive homes are constant and reliable.
  • Superior indoor air quality overall has a positive impact on health and well-being, making a passive house a profoundly pleasant house to dwell in.

Passive House Costs

While a home built to the passive house standard will on average add 10% to construction costs, that amount will be recouped many times over the life of your home. It will also add immeasurably to your quality of life. Just consider these numbers on the annual energy demand of a typical to-code build vs. a passive house build:

Code Model

39,313 kWh/yr Annual Site Energy Demand

Passive House As-Designed:

8,628 kWh/yr Annual Site Energy Demand

Total Energy Savings:

30,685 kWh/yr

Details on energy demand testing here >

Read a full cost analysis of the EkoBuilt Passive House kit on our main site.

Typical Build vs. Passive House

This passive house infographic by Bleu Nest in the United States is a quick-to-digest comparison of a traditional home build with a passive house build. We think the results are clear.

Passive House vs. Conventional House cost comparison

Ottawa Passive House

EkoBuilt constructed a demonstration passive house in Ottawa, Canada in 2016 as a way to expose this model a wider audience. You can follow the site build through older posts on our Ottawa passive house build on our blog, or you can request a visit if you’re close enough to stop in.

Ottawa Passive House – Related Information


4 thoughts on “Ottawa Passive House Design & Construction

  1. Pingback: Ontario’s climate change plan: how can you protect the investment in your home? | EkoBuilt

    • EkoBuilt: the Evolution of the Home

      Hi Tracy, thanks for the question, we have 2 models close to your request
      Calendula (624 sq.ft)
      Goldenrod (1080 sq.ft)
      You may view designs here –
      Please note we can EASILY draft a custom design to suit your request. Conceptual design & construction drawings are included with our standard materials package whether it be one of our models or one custom designed for you. Have a nice day..


  2. Pingback: Passive House can be simple & affordable | EkoBuilt

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