Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sustainable Whistler and Austrian Passive House

Sustainable Seattle had the pleasure of attending a lecture by a Whistler city official a couple of years ago at a Natural Step conference in Portland where we learned of the municipality's unique (especially for a resort town) long term vision. Their plan, Whistler2020, has helped inform major decisions from how to power the city to where urban growth should be allowed. With the upcoming Winter Olympics in the news it seems appropriate to mention another forward thinking project currently under way in the region.
The Austria House, a structure meant to house the Austrian Olympic Committee and a public broadcasting studio, has recently been completed in Whistler. The house conforms to the Passive House standards, meaning that no energy will be required to heat or cool the building. This is accomplished by super-insulating the envelope of the building (including high-performance glass), ensuring air-tightness, and using heat-recovery ventilators. Essentially, the body heat produced by the occupants is enough to warm the building. After the games, the Austrian Government will hand the building over to Whistler for use as a public events pavilion.
Pretty exciting technology, especially now that North America is catching on to a construction method widely practiced in Europe.

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