North American Passive House Conference 2015 in Vancouver encourages higher energy efficiency awareness and sustainable construction

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Canadian Design and Construction Report staff writer

Nearly 400 building industry professionals including ar-chitects, contractors and government representatives gathered in Vancouver for the North American Passive House Network (NAPHN15) conference and trade show Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The four-day event included workshops, presentations, panel discussions and project tours.

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Passive House is the world’s most stringent energy efficiency building standard, and this was the third year the conference has brought together Passive House experts in North America to share knowledge, experience and ideas.

Bedford Road House, Nelson, BC – winner of NAPHN15
Design Award (by Cover Architectural Collaborative)

In addition to the introductory and advanced presentations and workshops, the conference provided a forum for policy makers and regulators to discuss energy efficiency initiatives, learn how other jurisdictions are advancing building energy efficiency and provide tools to do the same.

Rob Bernhardt, president of the Canadian Passive House Institute West (CanPHI West) and one of the organizers of the first Passive House conference in Canada in 2013, commented on the progress made in energy efficient building over the past two years.

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“We’re now seeing local and provincial governments looking to Passive House as a means to achieve climate change and greenhouse gas emission targets. The City of Vancouver is leading the way with a mandate for net zero new buildings by 2020. The province of BC is considering initiatives to advance building energy efficiency and New York City has identified Passive House as the approach it intends to take to improve their buildings. Numerous other jurisdictions have adopted or are considering policy alternatives to substantially improve building energy efficiency.”

Guido Wimmers, winner of Harold Orr Award for
contribution to Passive House in Canada

The conference showcased many larger Passive House buildings from around the world, including a school in Austria, a Latvian recreational centre, a mid-sized MURB in Vancouver, Ottawa social housing and a New York high rise. Increasingly, examples of large and complex Passive House buildings can be found in North America.

The conference saw the launch of the first NAPHN Design Awards. Bronwyn Barry and Ken Levenson, directors at the North American Passive House Network presented Cover Architectural Collaborative with the award for its multifamily Passive House residence in Nelson, BC. Dr. Guido Wimmers of the University of Northern BC received the Harold Orr Award for his Canadian Passive House contribu-tion.

On Saturday, there was a bicycle tour of Vancouver Passive House projects, led by Mayor Gregor Robertson, who spoke about the city’s plans to advance energy efficient building standards in Vancouver’s bid to become Canada’s greenest city. A bus also took 40 passengers on a tour of Whistler Passive House projects, including the first Canadian Passive House and a manufacturing plant prefabricating Passive House wall assemblies.

CanPHI West, the hosts of NAPHN15, has started planning the next event for 2017. For more information and Pas-sive House courses visit www.canphi.ca.

The next North American Passive House conference will take place in New York in 2016. Visit www.naphnetwork.org for details. For information on Passive House courses in Canada visit www.canphi.ca.

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