About the project


Logo by Francis Katsu

Wolfe Island Passive House is a project to build a sustainable, self-reliant, highly efficient but also small, affordable and replicable family home on Wolfe Island in South-Eastern Ontario, Canada. We had been told that we could be the first Certified Passive House in Ontario but Casa Toruga, just north of us, is now certified. Well, we’ll certainly be the first on Wolfe Island!

We have documented the process from the design stage through to completion throughout 2015, 2016 and will now continue beyond in 2017 to performance, certification and so on. The original aim was that we would be able to move in before Christmas 2015, however since we changed the way the house was going to be built entirely half way through the year, things did not even get started until the autumn. The revised aim was to have a waterproof shell by the end of 2015, and to work on the inside throughout the winter. That didn’t quite happen either, and we then hoped to have the house insulated and roofed by the end of February 2016, only to have that date slip by too. We got there in May! We then hoped to be moving in during October 2016. We missed that, but not by much. We finally had a liveable house and were able to move in in December 2016. There are still things to do, inside and out, but the house is working to expectations and we are monitoring baseline energy use etc. throughout the first winter.

For more details on what a Passive House (in the original German, ‘passivhaus’) is, see here. Further, we’re aiming to meet the Zero-Net Energy and Zero-Net Heat ideals. If you imagine a house that is so well-designed and well-insulated that it needs no heating in the coldest Ontario winters and no air-conditioning in the stickiest summers, and that generates all its own power, you get the picture.

Our architect is Michaela Hughes of Hughes-Downey Architects in Kingston and our builder is Chris Vanderzwan of New Leaf Custom Homes. We were also advised and assisted by Malcolm Isaacs of the Canadian Passive House Institute and his partner, Tomaz Stich of Stich Consulting and Design. We also have a number of specialist contractors for particular elements who we discuss in posts on the blog.


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