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Fort St. John's Passivhaus to get its first tenants

Passivhaus, the energy-efficient test house in Fort St. John scheduled for completion in December, will be getting two year-long tenants soon after, the city decided at Tuesday’s council meeting.
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Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said it was important that people were able to tour the home over the year following its construction. The temporary tenants are knowledgeable about the house, and are willing to show it, said city manager Dianne Hunter.

Passivhaus, the energy-efficient test house in Fort St. John scheduled for completion in December, will be getting two year-long tenants soon after, the city decided at Tuesday’s council
meeting.

Although the question of rent will be decided at a later date, part of the duties of the two potential tenants, Paul Gillis and Catherine Rudell, will be to promote and monitor the environmentally friendly house.

“We need to talk about their active engagement – on our website blogging, tweeting, how many tours, the level of care and maintenance – because we want it treated like a show home versus just a home that you live in.

That has to be all worked out, so I deliberately left that blank,” responded City Manager Dianne Hunter to Councillor Larry Evans’ question about how much rent the city would
charge.

“What I was looking for, No. 1, was the use of the Passivhaus as a living lab, and No. 2 certainly entertaining Paul Gillis and Catherine Rudell as the tenants, and then giving me the authority to enter into the discussion of what’s the appropriate tenancy agreement.”

Passivhaus was built to conform to a certain standard of energy efficiency, and to find out if it can meet that standard, it needs to be lived in by people over the course of a full year. Council is calling this the “living lab.”

The goal is for the house to consume between 80 and 90 per cent less energy than – and at approximate cost to – a normal Fort St. John home of the same size.

“Because it was a demonstration project, we need the data from that. We need people to be able to tour it,” said Mayor Ackerman.

“Once we’ve got that year’s data, we can move forward with the use of this house in other areas.”

Those tenants, a husband and wife, were specifically chosen for their knowledge of Passivhaus.

Gillis was one of the contractors who built this one, and the couple reportedly plans on building a Passivhaus themselves.

The pilot project has cost approximately $600,000 to build so far, double the $300,000 the city originally expected to spend.

The city has stated before that any Passivhaus built in the future will benefit financially from the experience gained in building this one.

  peacereporter@ahnfsj.ca