The new Site C apartments in Fort St. John have earned international recognition from the Passive House Institute.
Low Hammond Rowe Architecture of Victoria designed the building, and the firm recently received a special SIGA award for its work at the Institute's 2021 conference in Wuppertal, Germany. Fourteen projects around the world were recognized, including new housing builds and retrofits, schools, and office buildings.
"Buildings constructed to the Passive House standard require much less energy and significantly lower emissions are produced over their life-cycle. This exactly is vital for effective climate protection,” said Jan Steiger, one of the managing directors of the Passive House Institute. “All winners are a perfect example of how an extremely sustainable building standard can be implemented with a high architectural quality and in completely diverse ways.”
Construction on the six-storey, 50-unit building began next to the Fort St. John fire hall in 2017, and is part of the city’s agreement with BC Hydro on the Site C dam. At the time of its opening in 2019, BC Hydro said it was the largest passive house-certified building in B.C.
Designed by Low Hammond Rowe and built by Western Canadian Property Group, the apartments were built to passive house standards to make it as energy efficient as possible. The building was oriented from north to south against conventional wisdom to ensure each unit gets access to direct, natural light. Each end of the building features a series of fins — extensions of the walls to show just how thick they are to keep the building as airtight and insulated as possible.
During construction of the dam, 40 units are being made available for rent by BC Hydro for employees working on the dam, while 10 units are available for the community's use. The full 50 units will be turned over to the community for low- and moderate-income families when construction of the dam is complete.
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