Work starts in Ottawa on Canada’s largest residential Passive House project



Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Construction has started on what will be Canada’s largest residential Passive House building, where the annual heating bills for each of 140 tenants will be less than $100.

The Ottawa Community Housing Corporation (OCHC) project at 811 Gladstone will cost an estimated $35 to $40 million to build, said Cliff Youdale, the OCHC’s chief development officer.

“In terms of the budget process, we’re in the tendering phase with EllisDon and we’re getting the refinements of some of those figures,” he said, explaining the price range.

EllisDon is the project’s general contractor.  Hobin Architecture designed the two buildings, a mid-rise apartment building with 108 homes and 32 townhomes.  The tenants will be a mix of ages, family composition and incomes – for example, there are 36 homes designated for seniors, while there are 28 three-bedroom and 16 four-bedroom apartments and townhouses, providing accommodations for families. (There are also 15 bachelor, 59 one-bedroom and 54 two bedroom units.

The site also includes 5,000 sq. ft. of amenities, including future ground floor retail and office services – though Gord Lorimer, a principal at Hobin Architecture, says the market is probably not ready for commercial development of this scale so the storefront areas will probably be used as additional resource spaces for the apartment complex for the time being.

The complex will include greenspace, a scooter storage and recharging room, a fitness room with equipment, indoor children’s recreation space, a common room, and limited underground an surface parking. (Most tenants are expected to cycle or use public transit.)

OCHC says the project is the first phase of extensive public housing initiatives in the area.

A brief site tour following the announcement news conference revealed a site at the earliest stage of construction.  Workers from excavation contractor Gordon Barr Ltd. Based in Kingston were setting up the shoring before beginning the foundation excavation process.

EllisDon project manager Pierre Whitty says the goal is to have the building closed in in time for next winter, so it can be completed by March 2021.

Lorimer said the designers made special efforts to source Canadian-based materials and designed the building to lower costs and make it easier for tradespeople to understand and work with the Passive House standards.  The goal is to achieve full PHIUS+ (Passive House Institute of the United States) certification under the 2015 Passive Building Standard.

Passive House buildings use continuous insulation throughout the buildings exterior envelope, creating an airtight seal to prevent the infiltration of outside air, using triple-pane windows and doors, employing a heat and moisture recovery ventilation system that heats incoming fresh air with the outgoing air, as well as a minimal space conditioning system.


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