Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, House Design, Passive House

July’s heat won’t keep you warm this winter

ProCell Blue insulation

Click for Thermocell website

Since launching the blog for our Ottawa Passive House project this spring, the most popular post has been Insulation in a Passive House. We’re never surprised when posts focusing on design – like the one on Douglas Fir timbers in home design – prove popular, but you clearly love the practical stuff too.

No surprise, really, when you consider that good insulation will make your home comfortable, energy efficient and healthy.

The EkoBuilt Model Home is insulated with Thermocell’s ProCell Blue, a blown cellulose insulation. In our books, this is the most cost-effective insulation on the market. For a side-by-side cost  and effectiveness comparison with insulation more typically found in conventional house builds, see below.

But what else should you know about ProCell Blue?

  1. It’s affordable – similar in cost to batts or loose fill fibreglass.
  2. It’s eco-friendly – being made with 100% post-consumer recycled newsprint.
  3. It’s high performance – with superior thermal, acoustical and fire resistant properties.
  4. It’s healthy – safe and non-toxic, it will not cause skin irritation or itching while also repelling insects and rodents.
  5. It’s easy – being straightforward and versatile to apply, offering seamless coverage.
  6. It will save you money – trimming easily 20 to 30% off your home’s energy bills.

If you want to learn more, follow the link to Thermocell’s website.

Cost comparison: conventional application vs. passive house application

northern elevation of the ottawa passive house

Northern Elevation

For the purposes of comparison, let’s use EkoBuilt’s Trillium Passive House plan: this four-bedroom home includes 2250 ft.² of roof space and 3300 ft.² of wall space.

Below are comparison costs for three different insulation options for the Trillium house plan:

Conventional application
Wall insulation value = R22
Roof insulation value = R40
Cost of rockwool batt insulation = $15,600
Cost of spray foam insulation = $17,900

PassiveHouse application
Wall insulation value = R75
Roof insulation value = R120
Cost of ProCell Blue cellulose insulation = $18,250

As you can see, we’re achieving three times the insulation value at very little additional cost. We’re also getting the benefit of an amazing product that uses a natural stabilizer, borate, which renders it completely fire retardant, mold and mildew proof, as well as insect proof. What more could you ask for?

EkoBuilt’s ProCell Blue Installer

Please feel free to contact our Ottawa-area insulation installer to get a quote or more information for your own home insulation:
Cliff Antonakos

Munster Joinery windows and doors for the Ottawa passive house
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, House Design

Windows & Doors for the Energy Efficient Home

When it came time to choose energy efficient windows and doors for the passive house that we’re constructing, the decision was obvious. Ireland’s Munster Joinery makes windows and doors that are three times better in performance than any North American options.

Europe has embraced the Passive House standard more quickly and readily than North America, so it’s not surprising to find that it is home to a large number of suppliers who can provide the right materials and finishes for PassiveHouse projects at competitive pricing and superior quality.


Energy efficient windows from Munster Joinery of IrelandFor the EkoModel Home, we chose the PassiV uPVC Tilt & Turn Window. This model comes in vinyl, aluminum and wood; we chose vinyl as the most energy efficient and cost effective option.

These windows, which are so much more energy efficient than North American units but similar in price, simply made sense for the EkoModel Home.


Similar to the window options, Munster Joinery doors also come in vinyl, aluminum and wood options.

Munster Joinery also offers the option of timber doors and windows which have been clad in aluminum; these are considered to be a good all-weather option with enhanced aesthetic appeal for some homeowners.

About Munster Joinery

Munster Joinery logoMunster Joinery is one of the largest manufacturers of energy efficient windows and doors in Europe. Founded in 1973, the company has continued to offer new products, materials and processes throughout its four decades. The company has operations in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

You can get a feel for the windows in the EkoModel Home from this photos from our timber frame post (click to enlarge):

Southern elevation of Ottawa passive house by EkoBuilt
Home Building Resources, Passive House facts

PassiveHouse and R2000: A comparison

The R2000 building standard has gained profile in recent years as an energy efficient approach to home building. The formalized program, which has seen thousands of building professionals trained and many R2000 homes constructed, resulted in a great deal of awareness across Canada.

At EkoBuilt, we believe that the PassiveHouse model is the superior choice for the 21st Century Home, and it matters to us that our customers understand how different the R2000 and PassiveHouse concepts are.

We’ve prepared a new page on our website comparing R2000 and PassiveHouse and invite you to read it if you’re considering a home building project or are wondering about the future for building codes and the energy efficiency of different home building methods. What better way to head into the future?

PassiveHouse Compared to R2000, by EkoBuilt

SIGA Majvest building wrap on the EkoModel Home
Passive House

Building wrap for the passive house

As recent pictures of the EkoModel Home show, we’re using SIGA Majvest for building wrap. This wind and waterproof membrane ensures excellent performance for our building envelope, one of the core features of the passive house standard.

For an overview of this product, SIGA provides an excellent video summary.

Two weeks ago we were already well advanced on installing roofing soffit, as seen in the picture below. Watch for more updates on the build as the summer progresses.

Passive house roof soffit

Passive House, Passive House facts

The Passive House concept in a nutshell

Still not entirely sure about the elements of a Passive House? If you have just 90 seconds to spare, the following is a brilliant and easily digested overview of the Passive House concept:

Passive House Explained in 90 Seconds from Hans-Jörn Eich on Vimeo.

The video was made by Hans-Jörn Eich, a certified Passive House Consultant (Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany) and the founder of Pinwheel.

Pinwheel is a PassiveHouse building supply company located in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. EkoBuilt used Pinwheel to supply Agepan fiberboard sheathing and the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) by Zehnder America.

You might be surprised to learn that Passive House materials are readily available in Ontario and across Canada, yet another factor in making Passive House easier to realize and more affordable to build than you might think. Find out more from EkoBuilt.

Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, Healthy Living, Passive House

Passive House can be simple & affordable


The EkoBuilt Model PassiveHouse just west of Ottawa

The PassiveHouse standard is known for creating homes with an extremely small energy footprint, but did you know that it can be done simply, and even affordably?

PASSIVE HOUSE CAN BE SIMPLE – This state of the art low-energy home building style is actually based on simple technology. Smart design, abundant insulation, air-tight and vapor-tight constriction techniques, a 92% efficient air-exchange unit, a 10,000 BTU air-to-air source heat pump, and that’s pretty much it.

PASSIVE HOUSE CAN BE AFFORDABLE – A minimalist approach to design makes this possible. Minimizing exterior wall and roof area keeps material costs down. A simple roof line allows for speedy construction, saving on installation costs and keeping maintenance at a minimum.

Learn more about how building a Passive House might be simpler and more affordable than you think, right here.

See it in action at the EkoModel Passive House build just west of Ottawa. Contact us to find out more and to arrange a visit.

EkoBuilt News & Happenings

Ottawa’s First Passive House Kit

Ottawa passive house model home by EkoBuilt

At the framing stage

The Passive House model was made available in an affordable kit format by EkoBuilt in 2015; this year anyone in the Ottawa region has a tremendous opportunity to watch the build of one of these kits.

The EkoModel House is well underway in McNab-Braeside just west of Ottawa. Occupying a 10-acre property with rolling hills, the 2,509 square foot, four-bedroom home is very much in keeping with its surroundings and is being engineered with reduced development impact as a priority.

The house comes comfortably under the 3,000 square foot benchmark set for four-bedroom homes by the Canadian Green Building Council, and would be awarded 4 LEED points. In addition, the home:

  • meets the Passive House surface area to volume ratio of 0.75
  • features a very low maintenance low-slope roof system that eliminates dormers and valleys
  • incorporates materials and systems designed with performance, durability, and lower maintenance in mind, that are also local, recycled and renewable
  • consumes very little energy and has a high degree of albedo (reflectivity), thereby minimizing the heat island effect

To find out more about the EkoModel home and to arrange a visit, please see details on our newly launched Ottawa Passive House project website.

Healthy Living, Passive House

Ottawa Passive House options expand with the EkoModel Home

Residents of the National Capital Region interested in exploring the PassiveHouse concept now have a unique opportunity to see the model first hand.

EkoBuilt launched its line of PassiveHouse plans and material kits in 2015, creating the first affordable kit for homeowners. In 2016 EkoBuilt is demonstrating the build of one of these kits in McNab-Braeside, just west of Ottawa.

Ottawa passive house designSituated on a 10-acre property with rolling hills, the EkoModel home is available for visits by appointment. We will also be blogging about the construction process and key features of this passive house build during 2016.

We’re excited to demonstrate the power of the PassiveHouse model, which requires no furnace or boiler, even in the extreme cold of an Eastern Ontario winter.

Did you know that passive houses allow for energy savings related to space heating and cooling of up to 90% when compared with typical building stock, and over 75% in comparison to average new home builds?

We hope that anyone interested in the concept will visit and feel free to ask questions. Find out more about how affordable the PassiveHouse model can be. Contact us today.