I was invited to a site visit in Saanich, where the first “passive home” is being built by Bernhardt Construction.  It’s a good news story for a lot of reasons —- passive homes have been around since 1906 when they were introduced in Germany and there are now tens of thousands of these buildings throughout Europe; they use 89% less energy than a conventional building; and, Bernhardt is building the Saanich home as a demonstration project with other construction partners, all of them embarking on this type of construction for the first time.

I was impressed with the level of interest and commitment on the part of the builder, partners and stakeholders and the number of provincial and municipal staff and politicians who attended, eager to see this leading edge construction method.  Members of Oak Bay’s Environment Committee also attended, joined by me and Councillors Ney and Murdoch.

I was also struck by the care taken to protect the natural habitat of the building lot during construction.  Such care is consistent with the referral I made to our Environment Committee to explore the use of an environmental assessment process as part of the development permitting process before construction begins.  I hope to hear more from the Environment Committee on this topic in the near future.

My hope is that Oak Bay may be able to eventually build a similar demonstration project once the Saanich house is completed and our staff have opportunities to assess its impact on sustainability.  I will be encouraging Oak Bay Council, in consultation with staff, to explore the “passive home” design for possible future application here.

For more information, please visit www.bernhardtpassive.com