Affordable Passive House Prefab Breaks Ground in Whistler

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Construction has started on the Whistler Passive House Duplex, a demonstration project using a new panelized prefabrication system for low energy buildings and Passive Houses developed by Durfeld Constructors, the former general contractor of the Austrian Olympic Passive House in Whistler, BC.

Construction has started on the Whistler Passive House Duplex, a demonstration project using a new panelized prefabrication system for low energy buildings and Passive Houses developed by Durfeld Constructors, the former general contractor of the Austrian Olympic Passive House in Whistler, BC.

Designed by Marken Projects, a multidisciplinary architectural design firm out of Vancouver, one duplex unit boasts 2,150 square foot including unfinished basement, four bedrooms and two bathrooms and is designed to consume up to 90% less energy for heating, cooling and building operation than a standard house. Due to its superior insulation and air tightness, the strong, compact design and by taking advantage of passive systems such as solar gains, this house is able to maintain a comfortable temperature in winter with only little active heating.

Knowing that one of the major hesitations over low energy buildings and in particular Passive Houses are the anticipated construction costs, Durfeld has developed a panelized prefabrication system where the exterior walls, interior floors and roof are constructed as large panels at their newly set up facility with the main goal to reduce construction costs and to control the building environment. “After building the Austrian Olympic Passive House with mainly imported components from Austria, the general public thought that a Passive House is only for the rich. We wanted show that it can be done locally and for the average homeowner,” says Lydia Durfeld at Durfeld Constructors. The wood panels come pre-insulated with windows and siding already installed. Once onsite, the construction window is considerably reduced making this an attractive construction method for high efficiency buildings including challenging works sites and weather conditions.

As part of the Whistler Resident Housing initiative, this project also has to meet certain affordability requirements set out by the Whistler Resort municipality which has resulted in a turn key construction budget below the average Whistler building costs.

Although this budget is considered rather challenging for expensive Whistler, the project team was still able to incorporate an extensive list of Green Building features including solar hot water, rainwater harvesting, cross laminated timber decking, high efficiency heat recovery system with subsoil heat exchanger and also drain water heat recovery. “Next to showcasing panelized prefabrication for Passive Houses, the main goal was to proof that a Passive House does not have to cost more that a standard house without making compromises,” says Alexander Maurer, director at Marken Projects.

Occupancy is anticipated for late fall 2011. Production of the panelized prefab system will commence late spring and is being marketed to builders, developers, contractors and design professionals. Please visit http://www.whistlerpassivehouse.ca and http://www.markenprojects.com for more info.

MARKEN PROJECTS INC.
310-168 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC, V6A 1G1
E: maurer(at)markenprojects(dot)com
W: http://www.markenprojects.com

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Alexander Maurer
Marken Projects
(604) 331-9996
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