Passive House: good for the environment, good for your health.

Passive House professionals and enthusiasts alike seem to speak non-stop about the benefits of the standard. In the following posts we’ll break down how these benefits are directly linked to the Passive House principles.

Besides energy efficiency, health and comfort are the most significant benefits attributed to Passive House certified buildings, but what exactly does this mean in the Canadian context?

In Canada, 24% of first nations homes are in need of major repairs, most of these are on-reserve housing. While in Alberta only 11% of households present core housing needs, 6.7% of these are in need of major repairs. All Canadian homes in need of major repairs also present unhealthy conditions: from poor air quality due to mold or dirty furnace ducts, to heat leakages in the winter due to poor conditions of windows, walls, floors or ceilings. According to the World Health Organization, some housing-related health risks include respiratory and cardiovascular diseases due to indoor air pollution and dampness, as well as illness and deaths from extreme temperatures. After cancer, the leading causes of death amongst Canadians include cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

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For these reasons, there is a strong relationship between housing and health. It’s widely known that air quality, natural light, temperature and humidity control are key characteristics of a healthy building; and these are precisely the principles behind the Passive House standard. By design, Passive House goes beyond local construction codes to certify buildings constructed to the highest quality standards, helping support the wellbeing of its occupants.

An improved affordable and band housing stock may help lower the incidence of the aforementioned problems. Applying the Passive House standard to affordable and band housing could foster a healthier and more resilient living environment for low-income Albertans in the long-term.

On top of using high-quality materials and construction specifications, Passive House design takes into account the specific climatic conditions of the site, weather patterns, solar exposure, orientation and space usage. By making the most out of a site’s conditions, certified buildings enhance continuous air circulation, effectively remove air humidity, remain year-round at an average temperature of ~21°C, and provide ideal amounts of daylight, at the right time, on the right space.

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Ultimately, the healthiest building is one that is resilient, able to adapt to the social, ecological and economic needs of its occupants. This is especially true when it comes to use-intensive buildings such as offices, schools and multi-family buildings.

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