County Council’s adoption of the Housing First Policy and the updated 10-Year Shelter Plan in 2015, alongside its commitment to Passive House and net-zero building standards, has guided how the County is providing access to affordable, appropriate and stable housing.
In 2017, the County mandated that all Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for affordable housing developments include Passive House requirements as a building standard, an approach that offers residents comfort and affordability while reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Providing people with adequate, affordable housing has economic advantages beyond helping residents save money. The construction of affordable housing units offers opportunities for labour market participation and creates jobs. Currently, three multi-residential projects are under construction and two additional projects will begin construction in spring 2019. The owners of each project are hiring local contractors to construct the new buildings, contributing directly to the local job market and economic growth.
NEWS: In a first for Oxford County, thirty-four affordable housing units are set to be built to a passive-housing standard by Indwell Community Homes on Blossom Park Road (Woodstock Sentinel-Review)
NEWS: Developer Uses Passive House for Better Affordable Housing
Passive House is a building standard that is truly energy efficient, comfortable and affordable at the same time. Passive House is not a brand name, but a tried and true construction concept that can be applied by anyone, anywhere. As a rule, Passive House buildings consume up to 90% less energy than conventional buildings.
In North America, buildings consume approximately one-third of all energy use and contribute roughly one-third towards greenhouse gas emissions. As Oxford works to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050, improvements to building construction are critical.
In addition to offering affordable rental units, utilities will be less expensive than in traditional buildings, increasing affordability for both the owner and tenants. As required by the local municipalities, these redevelopment are subject to site plan control under the Planning Act. The site planning process will ensure that measures are taken to optimize storm water management and tree preservation, to minimize any effects on the natural environment.
A Passive House building uses minimal energy to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year. Buildings are heated "passively," making efficient use of the sun, internal heat sources and heat recovery, which makes conventional heating systems unnecessary. A Passive House requires as little as 10% of the energy used by typical buildings, offering significant energy savings and reduced emissions.
While Passive House buildings are known for energy efficiency and cost savings, what residents appreciate is the level of comfort they provide. The building envelope is extremely well insulated, and triple glazed windows (with insulated frames) help maintain the desired temperature inside. Superior ventilation systems offer fresh, pollen-free and dust-free air, and prevent the moisture buildup and condensation that commonly forms along window frames.
More information about Passive House
In 2017, Oxford County raised the bar for energy efficiency by including Passive House requirements in all Requests for Proposals (RFP) for new affordable housing developments. Before that, the County held information sessions for builders, developers, architects, planners, engineers and other service managers to increase knowledge about Passive House requirements.
Oxford County is leading by example in new affordable housing construction. The developments will provide a significant learning opportunity for the local building community, serving a ‘living laboratory,’ to access and track greenhouse gas emissions. It will also create a scalable and repeatable process that will drive future development decisions.
Oxford County, like other municipalities, is hobbled by an inefficient supply of existing buildings, and even though building codes have improved over the years, most new buildings cannot compare to the affordability of dwellings with low-energy heating/cooling requirements that can be supplied entirely by renewable electrical energy.