World’s first 'passive house' car dealership coming to Red Deer
Garrett Scott doesn’t believe in wasting energy.
So, when an opportunity came for the owner of Scott Subaru to build the world’s first passive-house compliant car dealership in Red Deer, he jumped at the chance.
“I don’t believe in consuming energy just to consume it,” said Scott. “We’re building something more robust and really unique that’s never been done before.”
Passive House is an international energy-based standard that aims to reduce a building’s ecological footprint by adhering to strict energy-efficient design elements and construction requirements.
Scott knew that building a passive dealership would be a long and expensive undertaking, but he’s confident the up-front costs will pay off down the line. Not only will the stronger building construction last longer than a traditional dealership, but the energy-efficient features are expected to eliminate 80 per cent of the building’s heating and cooling costs.
Passive house elements
Prior to beginning construction in 2017, Scott and the building team spent two years studying aspects of traditional dealerships to learn how to incorporate design and construction elements that would adhere to the Passive House standards.
“Because we are a franchise car dealership, there were certain image requirement from the manufacturer we had to adhere to,” said Scott, who pointed out this was a huge factor during the construction process.
“There were obviously some challenges during construction,” said Scott. “There were people we hired who’ve build passive houses before, but never car dealerships with specific design requirements.”
The exterior walls are one of the most important features of the 14,000 square-feet passive dealership. Three-feet thick, they’re built with three layers of insulation, which create an impenetrable seal around the building to help control the temperature inside and minimize air loss.
The floor-to ceiling windows – a design element synonymous with car dealerships – are triple-paned, energy-efficient glass equipped with automated blinds that control the amount of sunlight entering the building.
Further, a moss bed underneath the porous concrete parking lot will collect and control the water and help eliminate mold and mildew.
Inside the building, energy-efficient air circulation systems eliminate the need for central air, furnaces or air conditioning units.
“Because we’ve built the building so robustly with a thick exterior shell, heating isn’t really a challenge,” said Scott.
A heat recovery ventilation system pulls wasted heat from appliances, lighting and body heat to help circulate the air inside the building and regulate the temperature. The exterior seal around the building also helps regulate the indoor temperature since it greatly reduces the amount of air escaping the building, which means it’s easier to keep a constant temperature, even during the hot summers and old winters.
However, Scott said one of their biggest challenges was figuring out how account for the large service doors that open and close many times throughout the day.
During the two-year planning stage of the project, they ran simulations for an entire year to determine how many times a day the bay doors opened or closed, and how many people entered and left the building.
“There was a lot of planning with building something that is a first,” said Scott. “We learned a lot about how much we could save if we took the time to get it right.”
As well as building a space that is more environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient, Scott said he’s also looking forward to the extra-benefits of a passive house construction.
The air is fresher and cleaner, which will improve employee productivity and decrease the likelihood of headaches and air-borne illnesses, like the common cold.
Scott also said the extra-thick exterior walls not only keep it quiet on the inside, but they will also eliminate noise-pollution escaping from the car shops.
“I live my life off a waste-not-want-not kind of philosophy,” said Scott, who hopes this project will set the standard for future dealership builds.
“If we don’t have to consume all of the energy we do now, why should we?”