High Performance Building Lab

British Columbia Institute of Technology

New requirements for energy efficient housing and buildings require changes to existing building envelope design and construction techniques. In addition, construction in the coastal region of BC is sensitive to high moisture levels resulting in materials deterioration and failure. It is essential that construction technologists, designers, and builders are familiar with building envelope application technologies and even more so with high energy efficiency envelope systems.

The new BCIT High Performance Building Lab has been developed in partnership with BC Housing in order to provide hands-on training in high-efficiency building envelope. This lab helps to create space for education that will elevate the state of practice of high performance buildings in BC.

This building lab comprises of display cut-away assemblies, practice walls, an air tight house and a lecture area. The display cut-away assemblies demonstrate a variety of framing, insulating, taping, and window interfaces. The practice walls are real size structures where students can practice the different high performance construction techniques. The airtight testing hut is a small-scale building that brings together all the aspects of a high performance building system in a coherent example that is used for blower door tests training. It is also used to find and repair air leaks in the building envelope, and will soon be used to balance a residential HRV system that includes heat recovery. Finally, the lecture area is located within the practice area and its open design allows easy back and forth between theory and practice.

This new BCIT School of Construction and the Environment lab includes:

  • Practice walls, including (but not limited to) the following HPO 22+ High Performance designs:
    • Split Insulated Walls
    • 2×4 studs (R-12 batts) blower
    • Exterior Insulated Walls
    • 2×4 studs (no batts)
    • Double 2×4 Stud Walls
    • Deep Stud Walls with Service Wall
    • EWI (Engineered Wood I-Joist) (Larsen Truss)
  • Airtight testing house (10’x15’), including
    • Blower to perform blower door tests
    • Two windows, Two exterior doors
  • Display cut-away models showing finished wall assemblies (gypsum board to cladding) related to the practice wall types and including a portion of window sill
  • Lecture area, including
    • Audio-visual
    • Wi-Fi
    • Class space (tables and chairs for up to 45 students)
    • Educational permanent signage
  • Lab space, including
    • Open space for hands-on training
    • Tools required for trades training

BCIT concurrently launched for the first time in Canada a Passive House Tradesperson Training Course. This five day course provides the knowledge and practical hands-on skills that building contractors, designers, consultants and advanced students need to build to the Passive House standard; an internationally recognized ultra-low energy standard. This course focuses on building enclosure optimization and provides a foundation in passive house principles, while stressing the importance of construction fundamentals and proper sequencing and using a variety of materials. An introduction to heat and energy recovery ventilators will be provided. Students who complete the course are eligible to write the exam to become a Certified Passive House Tradesperson – Building Envelope Specialization through the Passive House Institute.