CA. 15

Bringing Passive House standards to life through the design of a modern, elemental single-family home in an established neighbourhood.

CA. 15

This modern and elemental single-family home was the first of its kind in the Oak Bay neighbourhood designed to meet the International Passive House standard, ensuring that the energy demand is reduced by up to 90% compared to the standard house. It stands out amongst the many cottage-style homes in the area, and is grounded by the surrounding Garry Oaks and Pacific Northwest landscape.


Single-Family Home


Completed 2016


Privately contracted


Victoria, Canada


2 storeys, 278-m2 (2,990 sqf)


2019 Allan Cassidy Award for New Single Family Home
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Features triple-paned Austrian windows throughout.

Incorporation of natural walnut, smooth and clean lines.

Achieved the highest air-tightness rating in North America.

Extensive west-facing glazing.

Exterior roller-blind shading.

Large sliding doors connecting living spaces together.

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Creating a clean and impactful design using Passive House Building principles.

This single-family home achieves a seamless integration within its traditional neighbourhood by blending modern design with the familiarity of wood. The exterior material palette is defined by vertical cedar siding. Inside local walnut brings warmth and texture to the space. The flat roof is prepared for photovoltaic panels, which will turn this home into an energy plus home.

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The front façade of the home features a complex roofline and inset garage entrance, with contrasting dark siding and white stucco.  The interiors feature triple-paned Austrian windows, allowing for generous distribution of natural light throughout the home—while also retaining the tight insulation that is so important to Passive House Building principles. 

Windows that extend from the floor to the ceiling of a two-story great room allow natural daylight to suffuse the space and also provide a direct connection to the patio and rear yard. This west-facing glazing could have created overheating issues and PHPP modelling showed that exterior shading was needed in addition to large deciduous trees nearby. Skylights bring additional natural light to the middle of the house, further reducing lighting energy consumption during daylight hours. A punctuated overhang frames the view of the sky from the patio.

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High-end design with low environmental impact.

This project incorporates a wide range of Passive House features as fundamental components of its core sustainability concept. Its continuous blanket of insulation begins below the 15-cm concrete slab with 20 cm of a specialized EPS intended for geotechnical applications. Mineral wool fills the 2x6 wall assemblies, with a 15-cm layer of polyiso exterior and additional 38mm of mineral wool to the sheathing creating a strong thermal break.

The SBS roof assembly has 30 cm of sloped insulation above the sheathing. The air-vapor membrane is placed over the plywood sheathing and creates a continuous overlap with the wall membranes, creating a very airtight building envelope.

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With this envelope, the home’s comfort is assured with very little heating and no cooling. An HRV conserves the house’s heat while constantly filling it with fresh, filtered air. A heat pump water heater that uses CO2 as a refrigerant provides hot water for all uses, including heating the home when needed. A variable speed mixing control pump siphons heated water from the storage tank and delivers it to hydronic piping snaking through the ground-level concrete floor. The thick slab functions here as a thermal buffer, working opposite in summer or winter seasons.

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When starting this project we were faced with one of the most pressing questions in design: How do we build for the future? We committed to following international Passive House standards and contribute to the solution to climate change.
Peter Johannknecht, Principal, Cascadia Architecture

Natural shade becomes a tool, keeping things cool during summer months.

A thoughtful three-pronged strategy eliminated any need for mechanical cooling. Liberal use of exterior shading—a design element that Cascadia Architects takes very seriously—is this home’s first line of defence against summertime heat. Night flushing—setting the operable windows in the tilt position during the summer season—provides an exit pathway for excess warmth. Finally, setting the HRV to its summertime bypass mode enables it to still draw in and circulate fresh air without conserving heat.  

Since occupancy, the home has more than delivered on its promised comfort and outstanding air quality.

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The Team

Client Privately Contracted

Architect Cascadia Architects Inc.

Contractor NZ Builders Ltd.

Structural Engineer Hoel Engineering Group

Interior Design Cascadia Architects Inc.

Landscape Architect Murdoch DeGreeff Landscape Architects

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