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Passive House seminar gives Sask Polytech students a leading edge


One-day course offers valuable training in energy efficient building practices

March 13, 2015 - It may not be easy being green, but thanks to today's full-day seminar on passive houses, students at Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Moose Jaw campus are learning what it takes to create leading-edge, sustainable, energy efficient buildings in our province. 

Passive House is a performance standard that can be applied to any building—not just residential housing. Students and instructors from Architectural Technology, Carpentry and Engineering Design and Drafting Technology programs will learn the ins and outs of creating an exceptionally well-insulated, airtight building that taps into passive heating and cooling methods (such as heat from the sun and use of strategic shading). 

With the growing demand for high performance buildings that minimize energy consumption, the knowledge the students gain today will complement their studies and give them a strong advantage when embarking on their future careers.

"The more our students know about concepts such as Passive House, the better equipped they'll be when they go out into the workforce," says Angela Deans an Architectural Technologies instructor and the organizer of the seminar. "This gives them an advantage when they're applying for jobs because they will be familiar with this program and that's something employers are looking to find in our students—a familiarity with energy efficiency concepts." 

Organized together with the Canadian Passive House Institute, the seminar covers the history of the Passive House, its application in Saskatchewan's climate, the basic principles and the requirements for certification. 

Michael Nemeth, a consulting engineer, will lead the seminar. The topics for discussion include annual heating demand, heating load, U value (a measure of heat loss), thermal bridging, windows, airtightness, heat recovery ventilation, primary energy demand and thermal and summer comfort. The day will conclude with the economics of the Passive House and a review of case studies including the Radiance Cohousing project (of which Nemeth is the design lead). Based in Saskatoon, the project is a collaborative townhouse development being built to achieve Passive House certification. 

"Even if one of our graduates were to design a building that they didn't certify as Passive House, the concepts behind it are really good building science," says Deans. "The more people who understand the science behind the Passive House program, the better our buildings will become overall. It's one more skill our students will bring to the table." 

The Passive House approach to building is at the forefront of modern building practices in Saskatchewan and around the world. Requiring 90 per cent less energy than a typical home, the environmental benefits and cost savings make the Passive House a model for sustainable living, and the future will see more regulation in regard to energy efficient construction practices. 

When industry employers are looking to hire, they seek graduates with these relevant skills that will help them stay innovative and competitive in an ever-evolving industry. 

"Our students are getting in on the ground floor," says Deans. "We know we'll be seeing changes in how buildings use energy, so our students will already be ahead of the curve."



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