Broadcasting from Nelson BC

LADC in Local Energy Heroes column

Local Energy Heroes articleOur PassiveHouse triplex was recently featured in The Nelson Daily as part of the Local Energy Heroes column by environmentalist and author Michael Jessen. In his article, Michael shares some surprising facts and figures around energy use today.

In 2010, it is estimated the world’s humanity consumed approximately 550 exajoules or 523 Quadrillion BTUs of primary energy. (One exajoule is equivalent to 174 million barrels of oil and one barrel of oil yields 19.4 gallons of gasoline, enough to drive my Toyota Corolla about 1,560 kilometres or 970 miles). Cheap energy is becoming a distant memory, so what’s the solution to both escalating costs and spiralling usage?

The article goes on to point out some examples of local efforts to provide alternate solutions, including the solar photovoltaic panels being installed on The Seed building in downtown Nelson, as well as the PassiveHouse model that we are undertaking.

Averaged over a year, Nelson receives 3.5 hours a day of usable solar energy. On Bedford Road in Blewett, Lukas Armstrong and his brother Max Karpinski are taking advantage of that sun to build a Passive House that will have total energy costs under $1,000 a year – 90 percent less than an average house.

He also does a good job of summarizing the PH building model.

Passive House is an approach to building construction that dictates space heating must consume no more than 15 kilowatt-hours of energy per square metre of floor area. This is achieved through dramatic improvements in the thermal and air tightness properties of the building envelope….“The third stud wall, called the installation cavity, is built on the inside of the vapour barrier,” said Armstrong. “This cavity holds all of the plumbing and electrical and is critical to ensure that the vapour barrier is perfectly sealed in order to achieve the all important .6 air changes per hour mandated by the Passive House Institute.”

Read the complete article on the Nelson Daily website.


  • Max Yanke on Jan 16, 2013

    with less than 10 percent of effective sunlight in the Kootenays any extra money on solar is a waste of money, put it into insulation and energy efficiency, passive or active solar gain is a waste of time and money, go where the sun shines not here.

    • lukas on Jan 17, 2013

      Hi Max,

      Thanks for your interest. You make good points. If you read through the blog and look at the Passivehouse website you will see that the focus of PassiveHouse is four fold: envelope, air tightness, air exchange and heating. Each of these elements are tuned to our specific environment to reduce the heating load to 10 w/m2.

      The project is not dependant on the sun for either active or passive heating. It does, however, acknowledge what sun we do get and the glazing is located to maximize gain, minimize loss and provide good natural light. Perhaps more importantly for this climate there are overhangs and shading elements to eliminate over heating in the summer.

      The only active solar technology being considered, which may or may not be installed in the future, is a domestic solar thermal or hot water system. We have a site solar study, completed by Omineca Solar of Nelson BC, that confirms an average of 4 Kwh/m2 between March and Oct. Utilizing this energy would reduce our domestic hot water costs significantly. How significantly depends on the number of people using the system, but we hope to post figures about this later on in the project, so stay tuned!