Testing Mass Timber's Seismic Resiliency
May 19th, 2023
An exciting new initiative to scale up the adoption of Passive House was announced at the Passive House Canada conference in Hamilton, Ontario earlier this month. The Building Performance Assurance Council (BPAC), jointly supported by Passive House Canada and Passive House Network, was founded to streamline the construction and verification of buildings that meet the performance targets identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations (UN) as needed to get countries, including Canada and the U.S., to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
“Our main goal is to attack climate change,” says Lois Arena, director of Passive House services at Stephen Winter Associates, “And this Passive House pathway has been recognized by the UN as one of the major pathways to do that. And so, we are scaling up.” Arena was one of a four-member panel introducing BPAC, along with Craig Stevenson of AUROS Group, Evelyne Bouchard of Tandem Architecture Écologique, and Matthew Bowers of Rochester Passive House Consulting. Stevenson and Bouchard are chairs of the Passive House Network and Passive House Canada boards, respectively. Chris Ballard, CEO of Passive House Canada, moderated the panel.
Initially BPAC’s support and verification of building performance will be laser focused on operational energy, and the international Passive House standard in particular, but the nonprofit anticipates adding other standards in the future, such as those that assess embodied carbon or indoor air quality. “We support Passive House, because foundationally it delivers needed outcomes, but we equally support other elements delivering other necessary outcomes and take a brand neutral approach throughout,” explains Stevenson.
In addition to BPAC’s role in assurance and verification, the council plans to develop a database of buildings pursuing targeted outcomes. Basic information about each project will be displayed publicly, with detailed, time-series data from building measurement and verification systems supporting research and quality assurance processes.
Stevenson was particularly adamant about the need for high-quality building data to continually improve practices and processes, and to provide transparency and confidence to project teams and building owners. “The importance of the BPAC time-series database cannot be overstated,” says Stevenson, “BPAC is focusing on outcome-based criteria over the life of buildings. The database will be used to continue to validate the merits of the Passive House standard used to decarbonize our building stock.”
In discussing BPAC after the panel, Bouchard said, “We have a good handle on Passive House and just need to do more of it to scale that up. We can also look at embodied carbon more seriously and post-occupancy data and commissioning. The more we share that information among us, the less duplication of efforts, and the more quickly we can do what needs to be done.”
As Ballard emphasized during the conference, BPAC is currently in a very early stage. The announcement of the council’s formation is intended to spur a conversation within the building community about the most effective way to move forward.
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