Pheasant Hill Homes has made a name for themselves as a Vancouver Island builder specializing in leading edge energy efficient construction practices. Based in Nanaimo, we take pride in constantly training ourselves to keep apprised of design details and practices that offer our customers more comfortable homes that cost less to operate.
In the housing market, there is a lack of awareness about how to improve the efficiency and sustainability of one’s residence. This is not so in other industries. In the mainstream media, there is much buzz about super-efficient hybrid and electric vehicles. Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and the game-changing electric car company, Tesla are household names. Yet when it comes to our own homes, very few people would know how to determine what kind of house would be highly efficient. Because there are an endless number of different home designs, made by tens of thousands of different architects and builders, it’s understandable that there aren’t recognizable “brands” and “models” to catch the eye of the average person. However, a European energy efficiency standard is spreading across the globe, and is being recognized as the world leader in creating the planet’s lowest energy-use homes. That building model is known in North America as the “Passive House” standard.
Ken Connolly, one of the owners of Pheasant Hill Homes, and Burke Stoller, one of the company’s site managers, were trained in how to design, energy model and build Passive Houses by the Canadian Passive House Institute, which is based in Vancouver. This intensive course instructed builders, architects and engineers in how to design and construct the envelope, structural details, mechanical systems and window and door components to create a home which uses only 10 – 15% of the energy required by the average new code-built home. By making an initial investment to build a super-insulated envelope (the shell of the building which separates the interior from the exterior space), clients are able to install smaller, less costly heating and cooling equipment, thus helping to pay for the envelope upgrades. The home becomes noticeably more comfortable, quiet, and less expensive to operate over the course of the year.
Excitingly, Pheasant Hill Homes is currently in the process of building a stunning contemporary home which closely adheres to the Passive House standard. It will not undergo the rigorous certification process to receive the “Passive House nameplate” awarded to each home that completes certification, but by following the principles and many of the details of the program, it will certainly be in elite company as one of the most energy efficient homes in all of Canada.
Perched atop a Gulf Island, the residence has a stunning expanse of south-facing glass overlooking the Georgia Strait. The exceptional thermal properties of the windows and doors will actually help the home to gain available heat during the winters, and well-designed overhangs in the summer will prevent the home from overheating, while still allowing the incredible views to complement the natural, understated design of the home’s interior. Panelized wall and roof panels, and high levels of underslab rigid foam will yield nearly uninterrupted overall insulation levels nearing r-50. With a dedication to energy efficient building dating back to the R-2000 home that they built in the 80’s, the clients have given Pheasant Hill Homes the privilege of cooperating with them to build a home that is among the vanguard of green building on the continent.
Check back with our blog from time to time to see the progress on the house as it unfolds. By showing the construction as it commences, we will be able to illustrate and highlight the many features, design decisions and construction details that optimize the energy efficiency of the building. It will also be clear how a well-trained custom builder can ensure that such complex construction details can be fully implemented to optimize comfort, energy savings and the beauty of a residence.