SoLo is an off-grid zero emissions Passive House certified home overlooking the breathtaking Soo Valley, north of Whistler in British Columbia. The valley has an extreme climate, with temperatures dropping to 20 degrees below zero, so architects Perkins & Will designed a protective heavy timber outer shield which cocoons the heavily insulated inner layer from the harsh weather.
The home was built as a prototype to test low-energy systems, healthy building materials and prefabricated and modular construction methods. The narrow seasonal construction window and the site’s remote location were responsible for these construction methods and allowed for local builders to be pre-fabricating off-site during the winter season so the building could be erected quickly in summer. Building off-site and raised structural footings also minimised any disturbance to the site.
The warm and inviting interior of the home features only six materials – with Douglas Fir used extensively on walls, ceilings, floor, furniture and joinery. An important consideration throughout the projects was to choose performance led materials without harmful chemicals.
SoLo is powered by a 32kW photo voltaic solar array, made up of 103 panels, which completely covers the southern facade of the home. In heavy weather the valley can be covered in deep dumps of snow so to ensure the solar panels always remain clear, they were installed vertically. The southern facade is punctuated by double height windows which open up the home to the valley’s incredible views and wash the timber-lined interior with natural light.
If you like the design of this project, check out: Tom’s House
– Off-grid zero emissions home
– Passive House Low Energy Building certified
– 32kW Photo voltaic solar array covering southern wall – 103 panels. Panels are mounted vertically so they don’t get covered by snow in winter
– Battery system is used to store the solar energy
– Hydrogen fuel cell is used as a back up energy source
– Rainwater retention tanks
– Treats it’s own drinking water
– Processes all waste water onsite
– Timber is the primary construction material
– Double glazing
– Prefabricated modular building elements produced offsite – due to small seasonal construction window and the remote location
– Footings are keep to a minimum to minimise site disturbance
– Interiors materials palette features only 6 materials, focussing on performance led selections which exclude harmful chemicals
– Careful consideration was given to ways to reduce thermal bridging
– High performance fittings and fixtures to minimise energy consumption
– 2 foot thick insulation
– Airtightness blower door test was done after construction stage to minimise draughts and heat loss
– Heat recovery ventilation system provides fresh air
– Cross ventilation from well-placed windows is used for cooling in summer
– Radiant underfloor heating is provided by a ground source heat pump uses energy from the sun and is stored in the ground
– Future provision for wind power
SoLo is not a typical alpine home. With Delta Group’s intention to pioneer a future zero emissions approach to building, we designed a prototype that demonstrates a unique approach to building off-grid in a remote environment where every choice has consequences. Performance led, the home expresses a restrained material palette while generating more energy than it uses, eliminating fossil fuels and combustion from its operation.
Challenging conventions in both aesthetics and construction, the prototype acts as a testing ground for low-energy systems, healthy materials, prefabricated and modular construction methods, and independent operations intended to inform the approach to larger projects such as Canada’s Earth Tower. A Passive House certified building, wood was chosen as the primary structural material and is authentically expressed and exposed it its entirety throughout the home — a ‘temple to Douglas Fir’.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.