Austrian visitors to Vancouver 2010 this coming February will be invited into what is described as a home so unusual that only a dozen of its kind exist in North America: a passive house.
Last July the foundation of the Austria Passive House, located near Lost Lake in Whistler, between the upper and lower villages and a short-walk from the Village Stroll, got its first permanent building component: the insulation that goes under the load bearing slab, onwhich the rest of the building will be built. The specifically designed insulation material, supplied by the Passive House sponsor Isoquick, of Bechtolsheim, was installed under the watchful eye of its CEO, Peter Schroeder, who flew from Germany to oversee the operation. This insulation process is a key aspect of Passive House construction. These modules, made of Peripor® manufactured by BASF, are strong enough to sustain the weight of the building and therefore are installed under the load bearing slab. These interlocking modules prevent the cold from the ground to move up into the house. The connection it forms is a key factor in Passive House construction techniques and makes the whole structure more energy efficient. Insiders call it the "sock" of the building because it’s this material that keeps the floor and people’s feet warm. The Isoquick insulation was shipped from Germany, to Montreal, than trucked to Whistler in less than three days, as time was of the essence in getting the material installed.
Austria House (Österreich-Haus) will be the headquarters of the ÖOC (Austrian Olympic Committee), the ORF (Austrian Public Broadcaster), and a regular meeting place for the Austrian Olympic athletes and team members during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. After Olympics the house will be turned over to Whistler.
Austria Passive House is a private undertaking, built in partnership between Austria Passive House Group (APG) and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW.) The partnership was formed based on a shared commitment to developing innovative, sustainable technology and showcase Passive House. Now the house may become a model for more widespread deployment of housing designs that dampen energy use.
A passive house is a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained using ten per cent of the energy it takes to heat the average home. The house heats and cools itself, hence "passive". As well as forming an important contribution to the protection of the environment and the climate, this practice improves the quality of the spaces we live in and assures the long-term value of the buildings.