Construction on a “passive house” is currently underway in Saanich, BC, just outside Victoria.

What is a passive house, you ask? As the Georgia Straight reports, it’s a home that uses specific design techniques to reduce energy use.

“A passive house has more insulation and uses heat from the sun and other low-impact sources, such as warmth produced by cooking and occupants’ bodies,” reads the Georgia Straight. “It doesn’t rely on mechanical systems like a furnace.”

According to Saanich News, the demonstration house, being built by Vancouver Island developer, property owner and contractor Mark Bernhardt, is to be 60 to 90 per cent more efficient than a standard house.

“[The passive house] features a flat roof, as opposed to the originally-designed peaked roof, a wall of south facing windows and an overhang that allows for shade in the summer and sunlight in the winter as the angle of the sun changes with the season,” the Saanich News article reads. “Bernhardt plans to live in the five-bedroom house, while his father Rob [also the passive house’s project manager] will live in the basement suite.”

The paper says the house comes with a price tag of $600,000, which is $10,000 more than the same home would cost if it was in a more conventional way. According to Bernhardt, the cost difference will be recouped in six to 10 years of energy savings.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Straight article notes that Bernhardt’s passive home isn’t the first of its kind to be on display in British Columbia. During the 2010 Winter Games, the Austrian Olympic team used a 3,000-square-foot passive house as their team base in Whistler.

For more on the Saanich project, check out the Saanich News piece here, the Georgia Straight article here, and the contractor’s website here.

And for another passive house example, take a gander at the attractive Haus 96 in Brooklyn, New York.

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