Bringing the Low Energy Standard to an Infill Dwelling in Vancouver #Vancouver #PassiveDesign


Bringing the Low Energy Standard to an Infill Dwelling in Vancouver

by Noel McNally 

Low Energy Infill Vancouver

In late 2011 Marken Projects was approached by a client with a desire to add an additional suite to their property by means of an infill Dwelling, designed to the lowest energy standard possible for it to achieve.

Working within one of Vancouvers RT zones the opportunity exists for property owners to add density by means of constructing an infill dwelling either in the rear yard, sideyard or front yard depending on the location of the existing house. The opportunity presented with this project was to design an infill house in the rear portion of the site, however after the initial investigative phase of the project it became apparent that there were going to be a number of restrictions to the eventual size the infill may become.

The existing house on site, relocated to this property from Kitsilano over half a century ago, is placed slightly further back in the lot than is typical as set out in the regulations for this zoning. Add to this a two feet dedication to the city of Vancouver for upgrading of the rear lane, a four feet dedication to the side lane and a 10×10 corner cutback, throw in a parking requirement of 3 spaces to be accommodated on site and pretty soon we were looking at a tight footprint to work with.

Low Energy Infill vancouver

The program from the Client was

  • to provide accommodation for themselves and their teenage son
  • living spaces at ground floor connected to a shared open space between the two buildings, maximize penetration of natural daylight to these areas
  • provide a little separation for the sons bedroom from the living spaces to achieve some privacy and independence
  • provide an upper level loft type space for the couple to accommodate bedroom, workspace as well as bathroom with a small sauna
  • upper floor deck to take advantage of northern view to the mountains
  • provide an interior rock plant garden

A series of options ensued, different parking configurations, exploring the boundaries to which we could push the setbacks, to enclose or not to enclose a car parking space, back and forth with the City of Vancouver’s Planning Authority and as with all our projects, our design approach to create a massing and siting to achieve the best possible passive solar gain for heating the proposed dwelling had to be balanced. Eventually we got to a proposal that meets the clients needs, has them excited about the possibilities of their new home whilst satisfying the requirements for the City vis-à-vis development of this type.

Low Energy Infill vancouver

When we ran the PHPP on this project it became apparent that the resulting small building footprint in addition to the heavy shading caused by the close proximity to the existing house and existing mature trees would prevent this building from achieving the strict Passive House Standard of 15kwh/m2/year though it will achieve the Low Energy Building Standard thus reducing energy consumption by around 70-75%. In the coming weeks we will be determining the most suitable mechanical systems to be incorporated to achieve this.

Fast Facts:

  • Total Sqf: ~ 1100
  • Design heat load: 27 Kwh/m2/year
  • Design heating/cooling demand: 2300 kWh/a
  • Design Air tightness: less than 0.6 ACH
  • High Performance Heat Recovery Ventilation: 93% efficiency
  • Triple Pane Wood Windows: U-value 0.8; SHGC 52%
  • Building Envelope: R-value 39 (Walls), R 50 (Roof)

The project will also incorporate the following:

  • Rainwater collection
  • Low flow fixtures throughout
  • Solar hot water panels and drain water heat recovery
  • Native landscaping and permeable paving where necessary
  • Lumber from FSC certified sources
  • Flooring and millwork from sustainable sources
  • Regionally sourced materials where possible and appropriate
  • Use of recycled materials where possible
  • No VOC to be used

Marken Projects have recently submitted the Development Permit Application for this Infill, we expect building permits to be obtained and construction to start Summer 2012. Watch this space for more updates as the construction starts on this innovative project for Vancouver.

Low Energy Infill vancouver