British Columbia

Smithers, B.C. set to have its first passive house

Pat Rooney is in the process of building Smither B.C.’s first passive house — a home that heats itself with sunlight and body temperature.

Pat Rooney says a passive house makes economic sense and is good for the environment

Pat Rooney believes a self-heated passive house can work even during the chilly winters of Smithers, B.C. (Getty Images/Caiaimage)

A passive house (or passivhaus as it's originally named in German) is the concept of heating a home solely with the energy from the sun and the body heat by its inhabitants. Now, one Smithers B.C. resident is hoping to build the first of its kind in his city.

"It's a standard that's been around since 1990 but mainly in Europe. In North America and Canada in particular, we're behind the loop," Pat Rooney told Daybreak North's Carolina de Ryk.

Rooney, who hopes to begin construction on his new home as the weather warms up, explained that the idea behind a passive house is similar to that of a thermos.

With significantly more emphasis placed on insulation, he says a passive house is able to retain the heat inside its dwellings much more effectively than a regular home.

While the concept has become increasingly common in European climates which are conducive to warm weather, Rooney says this is the first attempt to build such a house in Smithers B.C, where it reaches temperatures well below freezing in the winter.

The project has not been without its setbacks though.

"The difficulty has been finding someone to design the house because it needs to meet a certain standard prior to building."

Rooney says he's hired a certified passive house contractor to oversee the project and says it makes sense both economically and for the environment.

"During all my reading and research I found that 41 per cent of energy consumption in North America is used in residential and commercial buildings. If you build a passive home you can save up to 90 per cent of that consumption."

"It's cheaper and it allows me to do my part for the environment. If we all did it, it's a very cheap way to reducing greenhouse gases."

To hear more of this story, click the audio labelled "Passive House."


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