A “cool” Passive House challenge

If you happen to come across some ice at Olympic Village Square over the next several weeks – don’t worry – winter hasn’t come early.

The two enormous blocks of ice, weighing nearly a tonne each, are there as part of the BC Passive House Ice Box Challenge, launched today by Passive House Canada, Vancity, the City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver Park Board.

Men work to install the Ice Box Challenge Passive House over the enormous one tonne block of ice.

Each block of ice has been placed in its own structure – one built to BC’s current building code, the other built to an energy-efficient Passive House Standard. From July 27 until August 14, the structures will weather the elements and the public is invited to guess how much ice will be left in each house at the end of the competition.

“If I had to guess, I would say that the ice in the regular house will be completely melted within 10 days, and the Passive House ice will never fully melt,” says Alexandre Hebert, the Zero Emissions Building Manager at BCIT. Alex has a bit of an unfair advantage though, because he helped with the construction of the structures at the BCIT Burnaby Campus.

BCIT was well-suited to help with the construction of these unique ice houses, as the Institute is home to the BCIT High Performance Building Lab — an innovative hands-on learning space that teaches students about the construction of energy efficient buildings.

“The high-performance Passive House structure was built to the same standards that we teach in our five-day Passive House Tradesperson Training course,” says Alex. So it’s not hard to see why BCIT is quickly becoming the BC leader in hands-on training for the growing high-performance building industry.

The reason BCIT wanted to get involved is simple says Alex, “By participating in this challenge, we’re hoping that the public will understand that building passive houses is the way of the future — offering improved occupant comfort, lower utility and maintenance costs, and ultimately saving the planet.”

6 thoughts on “A “cool” Passive House challenge”

  1. Thank you for your coverage of this public demonstration of a high-performance building standard.

    You are all invited to visit Olympic Village Square in person, between now and August 14, and/or visit the website and enter the contest by guessing how much ice will remain in each structures at the end:


    See you there or online!

  2. Cool! (Or warm depending on which box you’re in!)
    Great demo idea Alex!
    Wish I came across this while the contest was still on. How many people actually modeled it?

  3. The #IceBoxChallenge for 2017 has ended.
    The final results are (drumroll, please):

    BC Building Code Ice Box: 407kg

    Passive House Ice Box: 639kg

    Congratulations to first prize winner Alex Yakovenko and runner-up Bernadette Zuniga, and thanks to everyone who entered.

  4. Thanks Alan.
    John: BCIT was not involved with the modelling so I am not 100% sure of the answer. I believe it was modeled once.

  5. Port Alberni built it’s First Passive house, and to code PLUS It is situated on Gertrude st, built by a one man tradesman, videoed by a retired joiner/carpenter/builder, double wall construction, R 80 pad R 50 ceiling R80 windows R 7.3 large windows facing south, smaller windows facing north, doors R 7.5 EU Style for all triple glazing and doors, foundation wall insulated on the inside ( no bugs can infiltrate) all seams taped, EU moisture and air barrier ( Swiss ) Inside vapour barrier (German) 30 videos to date, infinitive detail on ever aspect of progression, even comfort zone all year, wheel chair accessible rancher stye, view the videos for further details. search the website, videos have others on building and table saw safety and jigs galore (search for the particular vidoes on Passive Energy not in any specific order until we build a web site on Passive Construction

  6. Port Alberni’s first Passive house (Passivhause) build in the heart of Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada.

    Passive House(Passivehaus) is considered to be the most rigorous  voluntary energy-based standard in design and construction industry today.
    Passive house buildings consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional building.

    The use of Passive House design software was used to gain the specs required to meet the performance standard for this location.

    House was constructed well  above the current standards as outlined in the B.C. Building Code.

    Footings were widen to 36 inches(914 mm) due to low bearing soil conditions and additional rebar reinforcement added.

    30 inch high (762 mm) high reinforced walls . Course sand placed inside foundation walls and mechanically compacted.

    Three layers of four inch *102 mm) thick  Expanded  polystyrene foam sheets with all joints staggered and tape were placed on top of compacted sand.

    The three layers of foam have insulation value of approximately R 50.

    A 20 mil layer of poly was placed over the E.P.S. sheets and taped and sealed.

    Four inches(102 mm) of 30 m.p.a fiber reinforced concrete was placed to form a slab over the foam based.

    Slab is isolated from concrete stem wall with four inches (102 mm) of E.P.S. to prevent thermal loss.

    All cold water lines are buried in the sand to keep them cool, hot water lines have been placed in the center layer of foam insulation to minimize heat loss.

    Wall plates compress to heavy beads of acoustic sealant between layers of vapor barrier to prevent air movement.

    The walls are double stud configuration set at 24 inches (610 mm) on centre and plates are spaced in a manner that yield a 20 inch (508 mm) thick wall. 1/2 inch (12 mm) standard plywood sheathing with  Mento 1000 a three layer airtight vapor open house wrap( far superior to common house wraps) with 1/2 inch(12 mm) pressured treated plywood rain screen battens form the exterior surface. 

    Intello  smart vapour barrier was installed one third in from the inside wall to prevent condensation in this climate.

    Triple pane argon filled windows meeting passive house standards from Euroline  were placed mid wall to reduce wind wash heat loss.  All window openings have been splayed at 45 degrees to give a full wide angle view.

    Almost all the wiring and plumbing was kept inside of the vapor barrier envelope to minimize air leakage.

    Passive house standard requires air leakage not to  exceed .6 Air changes per hour at 50 pascal.

    Zehnder comfoair 200 HRV has been installed with a 1000 watt air preheater .(92 percent heat recovery rate)

    House has been pre- plumbed for a heat pump water heater reducing  domestic water heating cost significantly.

    Garage has been pre-wired for 40 amp/240 volt  electric car charging station.

    House to be equipped  with  heat pump condensing dryer which requires no external venting,only a water waste line. George K Builder. © George K 2019 https://www.youtube.com/user/seumas2/videos


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