New Air Tightness Record in Ontario (Dare I say Canada?)

It happened again yesterday: a new record (tell me if you know of a tighter house in Ontario if not Canada!) for air tightness was broken in Oakville by Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) Ed Marion of Passive House Ontario.

And this was just a pre-drywall test, so it can only get better from here.

Builder Ed Marion atop the new Ontario record holder for most air tight home! Forget the fact that the house has the greatest attention to detail for long-term durability; this attic has a walk way replete with electric lights and yes an electrical outlet in the attic! Talk about attention to detail!

And to think that only in November of last year I was bragging that we’d tested “The Most Air Tight [Off Grid] House in Ontario!” and now, though this house isn’t Off-Grid, its the most air tight we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing.

You’ll recall the last record air tight house built by Dennison Homes came in at 0.52 Air Changes per Hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50) with an Equivalent Leakage Area (ELA) of 32 square inches. For the record, the Passive House Institute in Germany requires that all Certified homes have no more than 0.6 ACH50, so these two Ontario-built homes beat the requirement by a country mile. And now, as of Cinco de Mayo 2014, Mr. Marion’s build takes the top prize with and ACH50 of merely 0.29 and ELA of 13.3 square inches. That’s right, Mr. Marion beat the German air leakage requirements by over 50%!

Builder Ed Marion showing the double wall assembly detail of the new build going up in Oakville Ontario. Yes it was a brutal winter, but the taping went on and it sure paid off in air tightness results. With most of the house insulated using cellulose (installed by the specialists at GreenSaver) the vapour open building assembly will produce a durable and very comfortable new home.

To put the air leakage into perspective, many new homes are so willy-nilly on air tightness (there’s no minimum air leakage in the Ontario Building Code and most new homes are NOT tested for air leakage – which is a real shame given the increased durability, comfort and reduced call-backs when you ensure the house is more air tight… but I digress! ) that you could ride an upright bike through the cumulative hole, but this house, you’d have a hard time passing a small Timmy’s double-double through it. Might have to use a straw come to think of it…

Congrats Ed, we’re very honoured to be able to work on your builds, it was impressive watching it come together these past few months.

As for the rest of you, if you can find me a 3rd party tested home in Ontario – make that Canada – that’s more air tight (less than ELA 13.3 than this, I’ll eat crow, blog about it and I’ll buy you a large double double and supply the straw so you can drink it! But until then, I will assume this is the most air tight house in Ontario if not in Canada.

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Tags: air, ed, home, in, marion, most, oakville, ontario, tight


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Comment by tedkidd on May 8, 2014 at 2:25pm


Contests foster creative solutions.

Think Indy 500, Solar Decathlon, XPrize..."


How about ranking contractor performance so consumers can actually SEE "better"?  They need a tangible reason to pay more for better, so let's make performance tangible.  The data is available: 

Comment by Greg Labbe on May 8, 2014 at 12:17pm

Ed Minch, I think Craig nailed it for me. Sure its about reducing heat loss by way of air leakage, sure it reduces the odds of moisture migrating in a super insulated house and wreaking havoc (Cold climate), but its mostly about taking pride in your work.

You're right in that the difference in yearly savings is insignificant, but really, the builder didn't put any more effort that he would have if he was going for 1ACH

Respectable builders have an air tightness range in mind and test their work. When they beat their goal, everyone celebrates kinda like shaving milliseconds on a 1/4 mile track!

Comment by Craig Savage on May 8, 2014 at 11:27am

Contests foster creative solutions.

Think Indy 500, Solar Decathlon, XPrize...

So if an air tightness contest leads to simpler, cheaper, better ways for builders to get lower ACH, I think the effort is worth it. And if it raises public awareness it's even better. 

Comment by Ed Minch on May 8, 2014 at 9:05am

What is the dollar savings per year between .6 and .3 ACH50.

Great to have a contest, but is the extra effort worth it?

Comment by Craig Savage on May 8, 2014 at 7:54am

Turning Air-tightness into a contest is a great way to bring EE concepts to the average home buyer. 

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