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March 28, 2018

Passive housing in Nova Scotia keeps rentals affordable

Mike Yari likes firsts. The builder’s latest project is a 25-unit affordable rental building that uses passive housing design and construction techniques. It’s the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada and a first for Mike’s company, Pinnacle Construction.

“An engineer I know introduced me to the idea of passive housing, and it seemed like a good way to save money without being too expensive up front,” says Mike.

Passive housing has a rigorous standard for energy efficiency and also reduces a building’s ecological footprint. While it requires some extra costs up front, it results in buildings that need less energy for space heating and cooling. This makes the approach perfect for affordable rental buildings.

Pinnacle’s project has double the insulation of a traditional building, which Mike says was a big part of the extra costs. Mike expects the upfront investment will result in 80% lower heating costs than a traditional building.

But the benefits aren’t just limited to lower bills.

“Passive housing improves the air quality and gives a better heat, so people are more comfortable year round,” explains Mike. “It keeps the indoor air from getting too dry, and the extra insulation is great for Nova Scotia winters.”

And the environmental benefits don’t stop there. Mike has positioned the new building to take advantage of the afternoon sun, providing extra warmth and natural light for tenants. It’s yet another passive feature catching the community’s attention.

“We get calls from people interested in living in the building because of its energy efficiency,” says Mike.

Pinnacle’s building project is located in a growing Dartmouth neighbourhood. It’s designed for families and seniors, and it should be complete by the fall of 2018.

This project was funded by the Government of Canada through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Seed Funding Program.