We know we need to massively improve energy performance of new and existing buildings to address climate change and to get the City of Vancouver on track for meeting their Greenest City and Renewable City initiatives. We know that to do this we will need to move beyond LEED and implement low energy standards such as Passive House and eventually net-zero energy buildings.

Multi-unit residential buildings are the largest percentage of new construction in Vancouver and constitutes the largest stock of existing buildings. Passive House is slowly being adopted in Vancouver but is limited to wood-frame construction MURBs. In fact, all over North America (and most of Europe) Passive House is primarily being applied to wood-frame construction MURBs. For Passive House to become fully embraced by the development community as a viable standard, we need well-documented examples of Passive House being applied to concrete MURBs. Having multiple examples will help de-risk the implementation of concrete Passive House MURBs for other developers.

Vancouver is well known internationally for its concrete MURBs. As a sustainability leader, Vancouver could be known for developing the prototypical Passive House concrete MURB. We believe the City of Vancouver is a strategic partner in this program and therefore seek support from them.



A grant available to developers to remove the barriers to Passive House for their concrete MURBs in Vancouver. Developers would need to agree to terms to be eligible, such as:

  • Be a real project (probably rezoning) in Vancouver
  • Include contractor and cost consultant in early design
  • Agree to Creative Commons license all drawings (Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International) and post freely online, allowing others to copy (with credit) and redesign (with attribution)
  • Agree to a design process that will take XXX months
  • Agree to engaging PH Team as early as possible, ideally when there’s still ability to impact form/massing/orientation.
  • Agree to build to Passive House standard, should the feasibility study demonstrate economic viability
  • Agree to 3 “public” workshops during design to crowd-source ideas from the PH community
  • Agree to have their project documented online throughout the design and construction process
  • Agree to build envelope assembly mock-up(s) and donate to CanPHI
  • Agree to present at UDI after building permit
  • Agree to present lessons learned at local green building conference after project is built and occupied
  • Agree to publish total monthly energy consumption data online for 5 years

The challenge would be focused on concrete construction, since wood-frame PH is already being done in Vancouver. However, if there’s enough funding available, we could also include wood-frame. The challenge could be for a single project, or if there’s enough funding then more than one. Also, if there’s enough funding, there could be multiple Passive House teams available.



A team of consultants would agree to work together to be the Passive House team and would offer their services at a discount (50%), at least in the early stages.

The PH Team would work with the developer, design team, contractor, and cost consultant to take the project through a PH feasibility study process. A baseline cost per square foot for LEED Gold would be established and agreed to (likely before being engaged). This baseline is what the PH design would be compared with. The developer would have to agree that if the feasibility study showed the PH design could be achieved at the same cost as the LEED Gold baseline, they would build it. Perhaps they may even agree to build it even it it’s 2 or 5% more than the baseline.

The cost of the PH feasibility study would be free to the developer. 50% of the cost would be in-kind from the consultants and 50% would be matched by external funders. Should PH be feasible, the developer would pay 50% of the feasibility study cost to the PH Team, thereby covering 100% of the PH Team fees.

The developer may choose to retain some or all of the members of the PH Team to implement PH, but is not required to do so based on the terms of the agreement. Likely there will already be a preferred design team in place, in which case we’ll need to play very nicely with them.