Design-build firm Blue Water Concepts brings Passive House principles to every build.

For the past four years, Blue Water Concepts has been on a mission: to bring environmentally sound, sustainable principles to custom home projects from West Vancouver to Whistler, whenever possible reaching for the Holy Grail in home construction—Passive House certification.

“High-performance is definitely where our education and experience lie,” says company owner Mike Van Capelle, who is one of five on staff certified in Passive House construction.

The company designed and built Squamish, BC’s first residential Passive House, an 1,800-square-foot project that presented unique challenges, including a small lot and tight setbacks. These factors made it challenging to keep the interior air volume to exterior surface ratio in check, a key component of Passive House builds.

It is also in the flood zone, requiring the floor joists to be 12.5 feet off the ground, and the homeowner was on a tighter budget. Despite the challenges, the team created a beautiful, efficient home that was certified in 2020 and continues to perform to the highest standards today.

“The highly efficient HRV system in the home worked beautifully during forest fires this year,” Van Capelle says. “The occupants added in the charcoal filters and were able to filter the smoke completely.”

The team used building information modelling (BIM) to pre-plan all interior services and control all exterior air barrier penetrations. The exterior is wrapped in three layers of Rockwool, coupled with a final air tightness of 0.19ach, and the home’s total heating and cooling bill for the year is around $145.

The project was an important milestone for the company and the beginning of a bright future in helping clients build for a better environment.

“Whether it is a major renovation or any kind of new construction, we do our best to include Passive House principles, because it makes sense,” Van Capelle says.

For example, the team thinks about thermal bridging and detailing the air barriers on every build, so the final product is as high performance as possible.

The team includes a large group of in-house, carpenters and project managers, each with an extensive background in multi-family home construction, high-end custom home building, major renovations and specialty work.

“We have built this team from the ground up,” Van Capelle says. “My father, who I have trained under since I was eight, joined our team as a construction manager. We also choose our subtrades from a small pool of professionals with whom we have worked in the past and know produce solid work.”

“Passive House is so important for the future,” he adds. “Forty percent of green house gas emissions in North America are produced from heating and cooling buildings. Eliminating those is the low-hanging fruit for supporting sustainability and mitigating climate change.”

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