Passive House Features of CCOC’s Forward Avenue Development

Written by Ellen McGowan

March 20, 2023

Construction is progressing well at CCOC’s latest development at 159 Forward Avenue in Mechanicsville, Ottawa. The build is about 70% complete.

Sustainability is a fundamental value of CCOC. It was important to incorporate sustainable design and energy efficiency principles into the construction of the building.

159 Forward Avenue is designed to Passive House Low Energy Building Standards. This means that the building is designed to meet Passive House criteria (for Low Energy Buildings), including:

  • An overall heating demand no greater than 30kWh/m2a
  • An overall cooling demand less than 15kWh/ m2a
  • A cooling load less than the required 10 W/m2


159 Forward Avenue will meet these requirements through the following strategies:

Airtight Building Envelope

A continuous air barrier is essential in Passive House design. A properly installed, continuous air barrier minimizes air leakage (and heat loss) as well as the potential for water vapour accumulation. At 159 Forward Avenue, the building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing air leakage and the infiltration of outside air.

One way to measure the air tightness of a building is through a Blower door test. By using fans to create a pressure difference between the outside and inside of the building, this test can locate air leakage points in the envelope that can be sealed.

159 Forward Avenue will have significantly more insulation than what is typically provided in conventional construction. There will be continuous, super insulation around the building’s entire shell, insulating the slab, walls, and roof.  The sanitary vent piping and all storm water piping will also be insulated to minimize heat loss to the exterior.

High-Performance Windows

The building will feature high quality triple glazed windows with insulated frames.

Building Ventilation

The building will have a sophisticated ventilation system called an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), which draws in fresh air from outside, filters it, and ensures that the air is the same temperature and humidity of the air within the building before distributing it. The ERV will use the heat from the exhaust air to preheat the incoming outdoor air to reduce heating energy. This is an effective way of getting fresh air flowing throughout the building, to all the suites and corridors.

Efficient Heating and Cooling

A variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system will be used for zone-controlled heating and cooling. The VRF system will allow for heat recovery from suites calling for cooling to suites calling for heating, without consuming additional energy. The VRF system has a coefficient of performance greater than 3, meaning it only consumes 1 part of electric energy to produce 3 parts of cooling energy.

In addition to these strategies, 159 Forward Avenue will feature the following:

Rooftop Solar Panels

There will be a flat-roof mounted solar panel system made up of 144 panels. The system is projected to generate 65MWh annually, which will substantially lower (if not eliminate) CCOC’s hydro costs for the building common elements.

Efficient Appliances and Fixtures

All suites will be equipped with Energy Star certified appliances as well as low-flow fixtures to minimize water usage.

Green Energy Source

The building will be all-electric and will not use any natural gas.

Ellen McGowan

Development Project Manager

March 20, 2023