Energy Efficient Renovation Made Affordable – Using Passive Approach as integrated Design Tool

“We are thinking of renovating our home, add half a story, make it more energy efficient and healthy to live in; also low maintenance, environmentally friendly construction and budget is important. Can you help me?” 

This reads like a typical renovation inquiry we have received over the years and the first question is where do you start? First, we always recommend inviting a reputable builder/renovator to visit your house as the initial first step (best together with us) to discuss the overall vision and to show them the home. The client should have all information on the property and house on hand. We have a list of reliable, professional builders in your area we have worked successfully with in the past.

The builder will be able to layout the construction process, things to consider in a typical renovation, point out condition/feasibility concerns, give budgeting tips and list requirements you should address before starting the design process including having a structural engineer inspect the house. The engineer will provide you with a report of the structural condition of the house and the foundation. This is a good starting point for your architect/designer.

Also, sometimes existing condition drawings of your house need to be prepared if the construction drawings are not available or do not exist anymore. These drawings form the base of the design work.

Next step and first of the design work is meeting with the client, look at all the information and set out a plan of action.  “The greenest building is the one already built”

Our Approach: Passive Design is the strategic approach for all our designs seeking to maximize the thermal and environmental benefits through careful consideration of the thermal performance of building components and systems, minimizing heat losses in winter and heat gains in summer.

One of our projects where the above client wish list was successfully implemented including staying in budget is this Georgie Award-winning renovation project in Vancouver:

Green Renovation - Now

Green Renovation – Now

50's Bungalow Before

50’s Bungalow Before

The 50’s bungalow (aka Vancouver Special) was turned into a modern, energy efficient and healthy home for a young family.

Green Remodel

Green Remodel

Green Renovation Vancouver

Green Renovation Vancouver

Reno 13

Custom Wood Stair

 The design and construction program included:

  • Modern Passive Design
  • Low-VOC Products
  • Energuide 86
  • Air-to-Air Source Heat Pump for Heating
  • Airtight Envelope at 1 ACH
  • Efficient Heat Recovery Ventilation
  • Add a half story to maximize allowable FSR
  • Keep existing basement – add footings – new drain tile

For more information on this project and our design approach, please visit our webpage.



If you are looking to certify your energy efficient renovation, consider the ENERPHIT program for renovations achieving the stringent Passive House standard.



This program is one of the most stringent and integrated standards available internationally for energy retrofits. The EnerPhit Standard, in turn, is based on the Passive House methodolgy and concept, a tried and true approach to efficient building with over 20 years of positive examples to show.

If you are interested in learning more about the ENREPHIT standard, please do not hesitate to contact us.