By Nathan Rudyk
With a target of being North America’s largest commercial Passive House (Passiv Haus) building, Le Belvédère special events center is nearing completion in Wakefield, Quebec. The Certified Passive House Consultant on the ambitious sustainable building project is Homesol Building Solutions President (and market2world client) Ross Elliott. He's presenting the project case study this weekend at the seventh annual North American Passive House Conference in Denver, Colorado. Go Ross!
Brian Fewster, Le Belvédère’s visionary owner, chose to pursue Passive House certification without hesitation. He claims that for about 10 per cent more in building costs, he’ll recoup his money in 10 to12 years. If energy prices go up, his return on investment is quicker.
Passive House design represents the world’s highest energy standard for residential and commercial construction, and delivers energy cost reductions of up to 90 per cent with construction costs that are usually no more than 10 per cent higher than conventional building.
With capacity for 150 dinner guests, this high-ceiling 8,000 square foot special events facility has an interior volume of 150,000 cubic feet – equivalent to a 15,000 square foot house – nearly six times larger than the average American home built in 2011. Elliott predicts Le Belvédère will have an annual electric heating bill as low as $600. Built on a challenging rock outcrop overlooking the majesty of Quebec’s Gatineau Hills, Le Belvédère’s incorporates state-of-the-art construction techniques and ultra energy-efficient mechanical systems to reach its goal of Passive House certification.
For example, the building’s entire concrete slab, footings and foundation are insulated with 12 inches of polystyrene insulation. Pre-fabricated walls, floors, interior partitions and trusses were delivered to and quickly assembled on-site, sealed airtight and fully insulated to avoid any thermal bridging. Le Belvédère has the following energy-saving features:
- R100 cellulose (recycled newspaper) attic insulation, twice the 2012 building code
- 18 inch thick, R71 walls (insulated with rock wool)
- European Passive House triple glazed wood windows
- Cold weather Mitsubishi air source heat pump for heating and cooling
- Custom built 2,200 cfm enthalpy recovery ventilator (ERV) with 90%+ heat recovery
- Recovered heat from cooling systems recycled for hot water
- LED lighting throughout, which alone will save an estimated $4,000 per year on hydro-electricity