Ken Soble Tower certified as world’s largest residential Passive House EnerPHit retrofit

The Ken Soble Tower in Hamilton has become the world’s largest residential building retrofitted to the Passive House standard, according to ERA Architects (ERA) and PCL Construction (PCL).

Image credit: Codrin Talaba

The 18-storey, 146-unit CityHousing Hamilton building has achieved a 94 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 91 per cent reduction in heating energy demand. 

“We could not be more thrilled that the Ken Soble Tower project has achieved Passive House – EnerPHit certification. With over 10,000 towers across Canada in need of deep energy retrofits, the team at ERA Architects, PCL and CityHousing Hamilton have shown great leadership and we congratulate them on this tremendous achievement,” said Chris Ballard, CEO, Passive House Canada. 

Using the Passive House EnerPHit standard, the Ken Soble Tower was retrofitted to support resident health and climate resilience, with embodied carbon in the building’s structure being saved through building re-use and revitalization of 146 units of senior’s housing. 

The retrofit also included a reconfiguration of all indoor and outdoor spaces to accommodate aging-in-place. Over 20 per cent of apartment suites now meet barrier-free standards, with expanded community facilities that support seniors’ programming. 

Image Credit: Doublespace Photography

Using 2050 temperature projections as a guiding foundation for the design, the Ken Soble Tower is climate resilient, supporting indoor health and comfort during both extreme heat and cold climate events anticipated in coming decades.

Building performance was achieved in part through an ultra high-performance building envelope, with exterior and interior insulation that meet stringent airtightness requirements, triple-glazed windows, and heat recovery in all building penetrations. Obsolete and unhygienic HVAC systems have been fully modernized to provide fresh air to each suite.

To achieve EnerPHit certification, the team had to confirm that the final building was constructed and performed as designed. This was achieved through a comprehensive air tightness testing and quality management program that was developed by the project team and guided by PCL’s in-house envelope engineer and construction team.

The effectiveness of PCL’s quality program was demonstrated by final operational whole building airtightness tests that bettered targets by more than 50 per cent at 0.235 air changes per hour (ACH) at 50 pascals pressure (Pa).

Image credit: Codrin Talaba

“We are very proud to have worked alongside CityHousing Hamilton to realize the renewal of the Ken Soble Tower as affordable and resilient housing, and one of the largest EnerPHit projects in the world,” says Graeme Stewart, Principal, ERA Architects. “Showcasing that low carbon retrofits are the path for a resilient future, offering health, safety and comfort to residents, the Ken Soble Tower is a true model for addressing the growing climate and housing crises of our time.”

Project Team:

Client: CityHousing Hamilton
Lead Architect, Interiors and Landscape Design: ERA Architects
Construction Manager: PCL Construction
Structural and Building Envelope Consultant: Entuitive
Mechanical Consultant: Reinbold engineering group
Electrical Consultant: Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd.
Passive House Consultant: JMV Consulting & Transsolar
Third-Party Passive House Cer­tifier: Herz & Lang GmbH
Building Envelope Testing: Engineering Link
Commissioning Consultant: CFMS Consulting Inc.

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