Our Passive House Kit is Natural + Healthy

Worried about environmental sensitivities and your home? We are too! We thought we'd unpack our passive house kit for you!

Worried about environmental sensitivities and your home? We are too! We thought we’d unpack our passive house kit for you!

What’s in our passive house kit?

Although we’re very transparent about what our passive house kit includes, we really appreciate questions like one we fielded recently about any materials that could negatively impact occupant health or anyone with environmental sensitivites.

It matters a great deal to us that any home we build or supply through our building system is entirely healthy for the occupants. We live in our homes too!

We thought we’d dedicate a blog post to unpacking the materials used in all elements of the building system that is responsible for our pre-certified passive house kit.

The short answer is that our kit is extremely natural and healthy, but let’s find out how we can say that.

A photo of a bedroom in EkoBuilt's model passive home in Ottawa, Canada.
A sustainable home is definitely also a healthy home.

Your home’s indoor air quality

The quality of the air in your home is vitally important, all the more so if you’re raising a young family, or have anyone under your roof with compromised health / lung function or with environmental sensitivities.

Most of us tend to be aware of the importance of choosing paints with low to no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are much more available these days, and other finishes and products in our homes where we can choose safe and natural materials and finishes over ones that might contribute to making us sick.

We’re also pretty good at understanding other factors that can contribute to occupant health, such as well ventilated spaces. We’ve blogged before about the Fresh Air Feel of a Passive House, which is down to the tight building envelope combined with what we like to call a fresh air machine, responsible for regularly circulating the volume of air within the home.

Toddler playing with wooden toys on the floor.
If you’re raising a young family, you may be extra-aware of the air quality in your home.

EkoBuilt’s passive wall system

Which brings us to the house itself. The materials that go into the structure of your home obviously matter too. An EkoBuilt home is based on a wall and roof system that is made up of 100% renewable materials, and 85% recycled content.

  1. Open Permeable Fibreboard – this is a 100% renewable and recycled material, made from post-manufacturing process sawdust from untreated wood.
  2. Wooden frame – the lumber that goes into the framing of our wall system is:
    • 50% dimensional lumber (e.g 2 x 4s, or 2 x 2s), that is untreated and that contains zero VOCs
    • 50% OSB (oriented strand board) by Huber**
  3. Cellulose insulation – made from recycled paper content, this material is 100% renewable and recyclable, and contains no harmful chemicals, VOCs, etc.

**We’ll dig into the OSB or Oriented Stand Board in more detail below.

Vapor barrier sheathing

The OSB vapor barrier sheathing that we use in our house kit is manufactured by Huber, a company which takes great pride in its green footprint and its responsibility to provide healthy and natural materials.

Wood, which is 100% biodegradable, renewable, and natural, makes up more than 90% of every Huber product, including the OSB sheets (or Zip sheathing system) that we use in our passive house kit.

We have looked in detail at the research released by Huber, including independent air quality measurements taken on the Zip sheathing system, specifically on the use of phenol formaldehyde and phenolic resin in their building materials.

In both cases, the content of either of these materials is considered to be negligible:

“According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the emission levels for structural wood panels manufactured using phenol formaldehyde are too low to be considered significant. Because of the low emission levels, U.S. HUD has exempted phenolic-bonded wood structural panels from required testing and certification.”

Information sheet from Huber Engineered Woods

Extra layers of protection

As reassuring as such research is, we know that for anyone with reason for extra concern, it’s also important to know that our wall system is covered by additional layers on the inside of the home:

  1. The wood frame
  2. Cellulose insulation
  3. Drywall

Considered together, the house as a whole can indeed be seen as 100% healthy for its occupants.

Ready to discuss a healthy, sustainable home? We hope you’ll give us a shout.

Sustainable and healthy flooring options: Cork

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