Announcements November 24, 2020

‘SoLo,’ an Off-Grid Mass Timber House, Earns Passive House Certification

Designed by our Vancouver studio, the house achieves beyond net-zero energy performance.

SoLo, an all-wood house in a remote area of British Columbia’s Coast Mountains, has earned Passive House certification, becoming the first Passive House certified building designed by Perkins&Will. Internationally recognized as the most stringent standard for building energy performance, the Passive House Institute verifies that SoLo meets the criteria for the PHI Low Energy Building Standard.

Net Positive Energy Performance

Generating its own electricity through renewable energy sources, primarily from a solar energy system with a hydrogen fuel cell as a back-up source, SoLo requires no fossil fuels or combustion for its operation. In fact, it produces more energy than it consumes, resulting in net positive energy performance. The house has also earned the highest rating from EnerGuide, Canada’s energy performance rating system, and exceeds Step 5 of the British Columbia Energy Step Code, indicating the highest level of energy efficiency in the province.

Powered primarily from solar energy, a 32kW array is mounted vertically on the south facade.
Passive House measures ensure minimal heat loss and elimination of drafts and condensation build-up.

Comfortable and Healthy Living Environment

Given the extreme climate—the average daily temperature hovers around -17°C (2°F) in winter, with lows of -30°C (-22°F), and reaching over 30°C (90°F) in summer—achieving thermal comfort was imperative. Measures such as a thick layer of insulation, triple pane windows, and an airtight envelope, along with optimized passive ventilation, solar gains, and daylighting, ensures a comfortable and healthy living environment while removing reliance on energy intense mechanical systems. The small demand for heating is provided by a geoxchange loop that uses heat stored from the ground.

A Performance-Led Approach

Located in the Lower Soo Valley, north of Whistler, SoLo was designed as a prototype for Vancouver-based developer Delta Land Development. A testing ground for low-energy systems, healthy materials, prefabricated and modular construction methods, and independent operations, the house is intended to inform the approach to larger projects, such as Canada’s Earth Tower.

Pioneering a distinctive approach to design that is entirely performance-led, SoLo challenges conventions in both aesthetics and construction. Read more about this unique project here.