Air Leakage Testing a New Off-Grid High Performance House

We had the great pleasure of air leakage testing a new off-grid, high performance house last week. It was the most air tight building we’d ever tested!


Situated on a hill overlooking the sweep of the Saugeen River below.

Builder Steven Dennison of Dennison Homes and building envelope consultant Patrick Andres, a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) have officially produced the most airtight home we’ve ever tested in Ontario for an off-grid build going up in Saugeen Shores. If there’s a tighter one we want to test it!


From left to right; high-performance tester Shervin Akhavi (BlueGreen Group), Certified Passive House Consultant Patrick Andres and builder Steven Dennison of Dennison Homes take moment to celebrate the home’s air tightness record for Ontario.

This lovely house built on a hillock in farm country, overlooking the Saugeen River had a traditional look. Using Nudura Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) for the basement walls and 8 inch Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) for the above grade walls Steve took it up to 11 and added more insulation!

The exterior walls were clad with another 1.5” of extruded polystyrene and the interior also had an interesting product from Nudura – expanded polystyrene with integral wood strapping at 16”oc.


  • R 24 underslab insulation
  • R30 below grade walls
  • R 58 above grade walls
  • R 75 cathedral roof
  • R 80 truss roof
  • Doors were from Fibercraft Door Company in Hanover, Ontario.
  • Windows were produced by  Southwall Insulating Glass of Chicago with a pair of Heat Mirror 88 film in the sealed glazing.



The poly air barrier on the top floor being puffed in by the air tightness test.

The Southwall super-insulating glass with suspended film in a fiberglass window frame were beautiful. These units have a high frame R-value and come in multiple colours with optional stainable wood veneer interiors. George Strickland, the manufacturer’s representative, has been promoting the line in Ontario for the last two years. George says “The Southwall glass units can be included in any type of window frame allowing for adaptability in style and design, in commercial or residential applications.”

George also supplied the exterior thermal doors which were made by Fibercraft. These high performing single and dual (French) doors are made with Fibergalss skins and come in smooth or wood grain stainable finishes. They also came with the Southwall glass built-in.


Window detail showing the Southwall’s super-insulating glass with suspended films in a fiberglass window frame.

The air leakage rates, with a leaky cellar door came in at an amazingly low 0.52 Air Changes per Hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50) with a mere 32 square inches of equivalent leakage area (ELA). Though the wood stove and HRV were not in yet, this basement door was super leaky and the drywall wasn’t clamping the poly on the second floor.


Driving in we crossed a half dozen wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo).

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Comment by Greg Labbe on December 2, 2013 at 9:35am


I didn't do the WUFI or the PH consulting on this project. Patrick Andres may be able to help you with your query:

Comment by Dennis Heidner on November 22, 2013 at 4:35pm

What does WUFI show for the drying ability?  

The heat pump is there for spring,summer and autumn cooling to (prevent over heating) correct?

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