The Future of Sustainable Design on at the AIBC Gallery


Have you been curious what steps the City of Vancouver can take to help reach our ambition of becoming the Greenest City by 2020? Until November 30th, you can see the leading edge of energy-efficient house design on display at the AIBC gallery at 100 – 440 Cambie Street.

New bricks are made with wood chips and fungal spores.
New bricks are made with wood chips and fungal spores.

The exhibition, ran with Canadian Passive House Institute now called Passive House Canada and titled Art and Science of the High-Performance Passive House, showcases products ranging from bricks made of mushroom spores to thermally-separated balcony attachments. A variety of inspirational precedent houses designed to Passive House standards are also on display.

Passive House certified design has been highly successful, yet slow to catch on in Vancouver. The criteria for a certified design are performative, rather than prescriptive — this means the heating, air exchanges, and electricity use are tested for compliance at the end of construction rather beforehand. Prescriptive designs run the risk of not responding to specific site conditions that the standards may not have accounted for.

According to members of the launch panel held on November 10th, Passive Houses can carry an additional 10% in the capital cost while saving up to 90% on the hydro bill. Few houses have been built so far as the construction requires extra-thick walls that eliminate occupied square feet and includes techniques that contractors are unfamiliar with. Beyond reducing the cost of your bill, the designs eliminate noise, allow for extraordinary indoor air quality, and provide consistent temperatures across the whole space (including by the windows).

The exhibition is open until November 30th. Gallery hours.

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James is an architect and writer from Vancouver, British Columbia with a passion for affordable housing, public space, design, and the Pacific Northwest. James has worked on architecture projects across the lower mainland and has written for Canadian Architect, Objekt International, and Price Tags. He holds a Masters in Architecture from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and a Bachelors of Applied Science in Civil-Structural Engineering from the University of Waterloo. James has been an AIBC architectural awards jury member, has served on UBC SALA Thesis Committee, and was awarded a special mention in the Urbanarium's Missing Middle competition. He lives in Gastown with his wife Errin, a cool optometrist responsible for his maple glasses.