Vancouver on track to build world's tallest passive-house buildings

Oct. 3, 2017

The passive house building standard combines air tightness, superinsulation and a heat recovery system to conserve energy. Photo courtesy of Robert AM Stern Architects

A rezoning application has been submitted to the city of Vancouver that would see the construction of a two-tower development giving off close to zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

The developers, Landa Global Properties and Asia Standard Americas, have submitted an application for a 43- and 48-story development that they say will be the world's tallest passive house structures, reports CBC News.

"Vancouver is famous for its concrete glass towers, a building model that has been exported around the world, but the buildings themselves aren't good for the planet," said Eesmyal Santos-Brault, a passive house consultant.

"If we can build a tower that still makes money and is good for the environment and doesn't consume much energy or carbon, that's a win-win for everybody."

A 1970s-era rental apartment complex currently sits at the proposed site and would be demolished to erect the towers. 

The passive house building standard originated in Germany in the late 1980s with the idea of combining air tightness, superinsulation and a heat recovery system to reduce the energy needed to heat and cool a home by almost 90 percent.

Vancouver's green building manager Sean Pander said the developers still have to go through a public consultation process, and the plans will need to be approved by council, but the city welcomes the forward-thinking environmental standards.

"When we looked at energy efficiency historically, there was a big focus on mediocre design and construction," said Pander. 'We're pretty excited about that shift, and that leadership, without waiting for the city to require it."

Vancouver city council adopted a zero emissions building plan last July that aims for the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions in all new construction by 2030.

The tallest passive house in the world is currently in Bilboa, Spain. The Bolueta twin tower development houses 28- and 31-story buildings.

If approved, the Vancouver tower's completion date is estimated to be 2022.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Engineering Firms, Office Buildings, Passive House / Passivhaus, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design

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