Ontario’s biggest Passive House development opened in Windsor earlier this fall, a $39-million, 145-unit development meant to provide affordable living space to families, seniors, and others who need it.
Rental rates for the affordable units “can range from C$300 to $900 a month depending on circumstances, but can be as high as $2,300 a month for the larger suites,” London News Today reports. Residents began moving into Meadowbrook Place in May, and the building was 70% occupied by mid-September.
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“It is a mixed-income development that offers bachelor, one, and three-bedroom suites, including many that are barrier free,” the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation writes. “It responds to the housing need in Windsor; helps reduce our carbon footprint; and will operate without the need for additional government funding.”
In addition to reducing energy use and utility bills, Meadowbrook complex collects rainwater that can be recycled for use by up to 30% of residents, says London News Today.
“They thought down to the building design, how they can take advantage of using natural light, using rainwater to become more efficient, but also to reduce the monthly bill for people who call this place home,” said federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser. “It’s located right next to a transit station that’s going to get people to the services they need. This is the kind of thing we need to be dealing with.”
“It’s about removing those obstacles, working with our partners, and telling our development partners that it’s time to get on with building those homes,” added provincial Housing Minister Paul Calandra, who had just been appointed to his post in the wake of the Ford government’s Greenbelt scandal. “It’s about reimagining how we do things. This is a very, very good example.”
Government support for the project included $33.8 million from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, London News Today says.
Just a month later, a new building in Boston became the first skyscraper in the United States and the largest office space in the world to earn the Passive House (or Passivhaus) standard. “The 812,000-square-foot area for offices at the Winthrop Center, a mixed-use commercial and residential building, requires significantly less energy than similar spaces,” Canary Media writes, with comparable buildings in the city consuming 150% more.
“To achieve Passive House performance, the design utilizes high-performing insulation, triple pane windows, and other construction techniques that improve airtightness and minimize thermal energy losses,” the news story states. “Passive House design also prioritizes indoor air quality,” specifying energy recovery ventilators to “filter and warm or cool incoming air using the thermal energy pulled from the outgoing stale air.”
Ken Levenson, executive director of the U.S.-based Passive House Network (PHN), called the Boston announcement “fantastic news”, proof that Passive House design is “applicable to many, many” building types, not just homes.
PHN figures indicate that Passive House buildings can cost up to 5% more to build. But an experienced project team paying careful attention to design details can bring that down to 2%.
And “since Passive House buildings are designed to conserve so much energy, they’re also cheaper to operate, delivering savings to owners and tenants over time,” Canary Media says. “One example is Chestnut Commons, a new 275-unit apartment building in New York City, whose energy costs are expected to be 70% lower than in typical constructions.”