“What’s good for the environment is good for people,” says the Hon. George Heyman, B.C.’s new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Speaking to reporters, Passive House supporters, and members of the public at the July 27 launch of Passive House Canada’s Ice Box Challenge, Heyman says he had seen a demonstration of the Passive House Standard and recognizes the benefits it provides.
These buildings, he says, “are a very, very, very important part of tackling climate change.”
About 75 people gathered at Vancouver’s Olympic Village Square to watch the Ice Box Challenge construction crew load nearly one tonne of ice blocks into the each of the Ice Box Challenge ice boxes, then close the structures up.
One of the ice boxes is built to the BC Building Code and the other is built to the super energy–efficient Passive House Standard. The two ice-filled structures will now sit outdoors on Vancouver’s waterfront until August 14 to weather the summer heat and sun.
The difference in the amount of ice that melts in the code ice box compared to the Passive House box over the 18 days will show Vancouver residents and visitors how much energy and money is lost due to inefficient buildings.
Members of the public are invited to go online to www.iceboxchallenge.com to predict how much ice will be left in each building by the end of the competition and to enter to win a Whistler, B.C., getaway. They can also post photos of themselves and their friends at the ice boxes for a chance to win ice cream gift cards.
Passive House Canada is running the event to demonstrate to Vancouver-area residents how building-design improvements like thicker walls, better insulation, efficient windows and proper air circulation substantially lower heating and cooling costs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Vancouver, Vancity, and many members of the Vancouver-area design and construction industry provided significant support and have been key to making the event happen.
As part of its Greenest City Action Plan, the City of Vancouver seeks to eliminate dependency on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. A key part of the strategy focuses on expanding the city’s inventory of carbon-neutral buildings.
Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer says the Passive House Standard is considered an important tool in changing the housing stock to reach those targets.
“The vast majority of new renewable energy in the City of Vancouver will come as a result of more energy efficiency,” she says. “We need all of our new buildings to be zero emissions by the year 2030, and Passive House Standard is one way to get us there.”
Also speaking at the launch were the Hon. George Chow, Minister of State for Trade and a professional engineer, Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Island, Michael Wiebe, Chair of the Vancouver Parks Board, which is responsible for Olympic Village Square, Rick Sielski, Senior Vice-President of Enterprise Risk for Vancity, one of the event’s sponsors, and Ian Ross McDonald, Vice-President of the Architectural Institute of B.C.