Passive House


Scottsville Auto Group is building what could be the only passive house dealership in the world
Article originally posted on Canadian Autoworld

RED DEER, ALTA. – For Garrett Scott, this is about legacy.

It would have been far easier for Scott and the Scottsville Auto Group to build a traditional facility for its Subaru franchise in the north end of Red Deer, Alta. Putting up a “normal” dealership would have cost less, required less work, induced fewer headaches and probably been done by now.

But building a regular dealership would have made Scott Subaru just another Subaru store; what his team is constructing instead will likely be the only one of its kind in the entire world.

“As an Albertan, I think we get a bad rap because of our reputation and track record when it comes to the environment. I like to think building this in Red Deer is an important statement to the industry and the country,” Garrett Scott told Canadian AutoWorld.

“I don’t consider myself an avid environmentalist, but I know there are better ways to design and construct buildings. As an industry, we should look at all of these options before just automatically going with whatever has been done before.”

Scott and his team are roughly halfway through building what will likely be the only passive house (from the German term passivhaus) automobile dealership in the world. Passive house is a rigorous standard for energy efficiency that aims to reducing a building’s total ecological footprint. Through design and construction, these buildings require very little energy for things like heating and cooling.

According to the Passivhaus Institut, certified buildings must be designed to have an annual heating and cooling demand of no more than 15 kWh/m2 per year or be designed with a peak heat load of 10 W/m2.

In addition to that, total primary energy (source energy for electricity, etc.) consumption must not exceed 60 kWh/m2 per year. Certified buildings must not leak more air than 0.6 times the volume per hour, or alternatively, when looked at the surface area of the enclosure, the leakage rate must be less than 0.05 cubic feet per minute.

Scott summed up the standard he is shooting for in far more understandable terms: “Our 15,000-square foot building will essentially have an area for air to get out that is smaller than a hockey puck; that’s the total exposure of the building. There is almost no air getting in our out, minus what comes in through the doors.”

To put that in perspective, experts estimate all the gaps in a small house – around the windows, doors, foundation, attic space, etc. – are equal to a hole the size of a basketball. So stringent are the passive house requirements that of the uncountable billions of buildings in the world, it is estimated that fewer than 25,000 are certified passive house structures.

Best Laid Plans

The Scottsville Group, which has been operating in Central Alberta since 1968, is comprised of Kipp Scott GMC Buick, Kipp Scott Cadillac, Scott Subaru, Subaru of Cranbrook, and Scotts 180 Collision. Scott said they spent two years planning the project and had input from the Passivhaus Institut out of Germany. He said these types of builds are usually reserved for residential use and that many questions arose related to the normal use of the dealership.

The dealership group has partnered with Sublime Design Studio, Cover Architectural Collaborative and the Peel Passive House Consulting to help design and execute the project.

Ground was broken in October and he hopes to complete construction sometime this fall.

At just under 15,000 square feet, the list of unique qualities on this one-of-a-kind project starts with the walls. The exterior walls are composed of three layers and are two feet thick. The outer layer is a breathable membrane that takes moisture out of the building while the second is thick, non-breathable layer aimed at separating the exterior temperatures from the inside.

There is a collection and redistribution system for rainwater and snow melt and Scott said they are still looking at the potential of installing solar panels on the roof. Sitting on just over two acres of land, Scott Subaru is using porous concrete for the parking lot that will have a moss bed underneath to help collect and hold water.

“It’ll look a little weird in the middle of summer as we’ll have a perfectly green moss bed on our lot, but people can drive on it. It will be a point of differentiation, for sure,” he noted.

The thick walls will combine with expensive glass, thermal reflective blinds and custom doors with specialty frames to provide a very quiet experience inside the building. Heating the store through Red Deer’s traditionally long and cold winters (the city averages -11 degrees Celsius in February), will be a highly efficient heat pump system used only when the internal passive heat and solar gains are not enough to cover the heating demand in the depths of the winter season.

Scott said the store would have a heat recovery ventilation system that recovers the heat from body heat and the mechanical functions and passes it to the incoming fresh air. An air exchange system will move the air around the building and ensure that no matter where you are in the dealership, it will always have fresh air at a comfortable temperature.

One of the biggest challenges was incorporating service bay doors. Scott said they had to track how many times the bay door went up and down for a whole year and factor those large air exchanges into the modeling.

Assuming everything goes according to plan, the estimated annual cost to heat and cool the 15,000-square foot dealership will be less than $200 a year. Scott said his bill for the current Subaru facility is roughly 20 times higher.

Bigger Picture

But what does all this cost? The short answer is that it isn’t cheap.

He confirmed his passive house store would cost more than a normal build would have, though an exact final cost won’t be known until the project is complete.

Experts with Cover Architectural Collaborative said this type of construction standard historically carries a 20 per cent premium, though they noted it is yet to be determined how that applies to this project as it is being built as a cost plus contract rather than a stipulated sum contract.

Despite the added cost, the dealer said he’s confident the concept lends itself well to the site, the brand and its customers.

“We were also inspired by the plant in Indiana,” Scott added, referring to the Subaru of Indiana Automotive assembly plant in Lafayette that became the first zero-landfill factory in the U.S.

“We have been to the facility a few times and that really led to us wanting to do a building that is a little different. We wanted to be leaders in Alberta.” Grant Patterson, manager of dealer development at Subaru Canada, said the company is excited about the project.

Patterson confirmed head office completed a facility review with the dealer to ensure the design still met image guidelines and that they were able to satisfy Subaru’s requirements and the standards for passive house construction.

And while the question of cost did come up, Patterson said it was something the dealer was comfortable with so it wasn’t an issue for the factory.

“I know it would have been easier to not go with this passive house design, but we are thinking long term,” Scott said.

“This is a big year for us as we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of our GM store in Red Deer. Now with our Subaru project, we’ll have a structure here that will truly be a legacy project that will cost us virtually nothing to heat and cool the building. That’s pretty cool.”

Black Creek Developments building Canada’s most energy efficient car dealership!

Article originally posted on Todayville

Red Deer’s new Scott Subaru will feature fuel efficient cars “inside” the most energy efficient car dealership in Canada! For this project, Black Creek Developments of Sylvan Lake has adopted an extremely rigorous standard of energy efficient practices known as Passive House. Developed in Germany with hands-on experience in Canada’s harsh climates, Passive House projects take just a fraction of the energy necessary to operate a typical building. Builders must be specially trained to learn all the necessary techniques.

Black Creek Developments sent key personnel to a two week course covering the various aspects of the build before starting the Scott Subaru build. Learn more about this thrilling project in this short video.

Remember… when this project is complete, there will be a permanent Passive House display in the Scott Subaru showroom. You be able to stop by to learn about this unique technology anytime.

Black Creek Development is dedicated to forward thinking construction science. You can see a demonstration of this Passive House project at the Red Deer Renewable Energy Fair + Workshop coming up October 20th.

Scott Subaru in Red Deer Alberta builds world's most energy-efficient car showroom

Article originally posted on Green Energy Futures

While touring the Subaru plant in Indiana, Garrett Scott was hugely impressed by its zero-waste strategy and the wildlife reserve that surrounds the plant. He came back home to Red Deer, Alberta inspired to create his own groundbreaking eco-friendly legacy project.

Scott’s the principal behind Scott Subaru. His family has been in the Red Deer auto business for 50 years, ever since his grandfather, Kipp Scott, moved to the city to start a GM dealership.

In designing his dealership’s new showroom, Scott wanted a project that would set the standard for decades to come. Working with the folks at Cover Architecture, they came up with the idea of building to the most rigorous energy efficiency standards in existence: Passive House.

At first blush this sounds crazy ambitious. After all what is a car showroom? Floor to ceiling windows, with giant doors opening and closing all day—pretty much the worst-case scenario for energy efficiency

Go big or go home

But Scott is a go-big-or-go-home kind of guy. He loved the idea of building what might be the world’s first passive-house-compliant car dealership—and doing it in Red Deer.

Prior to this project, Scott’s experience with energy efficiency was essentially nil. But, when we asked him to explain the crazy efficient wall systems to us on video, he nailed it first take. He’s passionate about the project and has a refreshingly holistic vision.

“Why waste if we don’t have to?” Scott wonders. “Why build something that’s just ho-hum, that everybody else has done before? And, if you’re going to be in one spot for 50 years, or want to be here for 50 years more, let’s build a legacy project that means something today as much as it would 20 years from now.”

The passive house standard is a major undertaking, but Scott is convinced the investment will more than pay for itself in the long run. “We’re talking about eliminating 80 per cent of our heating and cooling costs,” he says. “And that is the reason we did it. That’s cool. That’s really quite exciting.”

Scott believes these values will inform his entire business model. “Being as efficient as it is from an energy standpoint motivates us to take our business and follow a similar trend—where we try and make the most efficient process for our customers, from an in-purchase standpoint, from a repair standpoint.”

He also believes it will be good for staff: “Passive house buildings are considered much more livable and much more enjoyable than your standard commercial building,” says Scott.

Insulation is key

Given Alberta’s climate, it’s not surprising that insulation forms the backbone of the design. The exterior walls are 22 inches thick, with several layers of insulation. The doors and windows, imported from Germany, feature passive-house-certified, triple-paned super-energy-efficient glass. A block of thermal barrier material surrounds the concrete pad and insulates it from below. “Essentially, an unbreakable blanket around the building keeps it insulated from the environment outside,” says Scott.

There is no furnace. In its place are heat-recovery ventilators that remove more than 80 per cent of the heat from exhaust air, and air-source heat pumps that are 370 per cent efficient.

Here are the specs:
Concrete slab – R42 insulation underneath
Walls – 20+ inches thick with R63 insulation
Roof – an unprecedented R126
The proof of concept came in late 2018 when they conducted their first blower door test.

At first blush this sounds crazy ambitious. After all what is a car showroom? Floor to ceiling windows, with giant doors opening and closing all day—pretty much the worst-case scenario for energy efficiency

“A blower door test is the test for how much air is escaping the building,” explains Scott. “You need to be able to achieve a number of 0.4 air exchanges per hour. Our results came in under that––we were in the 0.3 range.

“The folks conducting the test had not tested a building in that 0.3 range in the entire existence of their company,” says Scott.

Subaru is coming out with a new plug-in-hybrid car in 2020. Alberta may be a step behind when it comes to embracing electric vehicles, but Scott senses an impending opportunity. “There are plenty of other places around the globe where the plug-in hybrids, full electric vehicles are all starting to grow hugely in popularity. And it’s just it’s the next step in our industry.”

Interested in learning more or seeing the passive house car dealership? Mark your calendar, “We just had our fiftieth anniversary of our family being in Red Deer on May 5th of 2018, and we’ve scheduled our Subaru grand opening for May 10, 2019,” says Scott.