Vancouver Amends Bylaws to Encourage More Passive House Construction

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The Vancouver City Council approved a modification to their bylaws regarding Passive House amendments last Tuesday, March 31. These modifications remove barriers to building to the Passive House standard by making the permitting process easier and allowing more flexibility on certain regulations. For example, homes built to the Passive House standard need space for HRV systems and have thicker walls than conventional buildings. This can reduce a home’s usable floor area.

By offering a simple, flat percentage floor space ratio exclusion for Passive House or homes built to related zero emissions standards, this simplifies calculations and offers incentives for high-performance building, according to the referral report submitted by Vancouver’s Department of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability.

Following the approval of the amendments to the bylaws, single-family and duplex Passive House homes built in Vancouver can now enjoy:

  • A simple 16% floor space ratio exclusion for single-family projects and 18% for duplex homes.
  • A 1‑meter height increase to accommodate the additional thickness of roof insulation.
  • A conditional front yard variance of 0.5 meters to complement existing regulations on the rear yard and building depth.
  • Flexibility in external design regulations, ceiling heights, and partial stories.
  • Improvements to regulations to better manage solar heat gain and other issues—i.e. permit more latitude in the design of below-grade features to improve solar access for residential basements in a Passive House.

The full report can be read here.

We would like to specifically call attention to the efforts of Andrea Wickham and Sailen Black, two of Vancouver’s Senior Green Building Planners, who worked tirelessly to push these incentives and to get them approved by the City Council.

(Vancouver skyline photo courtesy of Patricia Keith.)

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