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Saanich design panel supports Canada's first "Passivehaus" seniors residence

Artist's rendering of Townley Place, a recently approved redevelopment of the Greater Victoria Housing Society's Townley Lodge property in Saanich.  GVHS

Saanich design panel supports Canada's first "Passivehaus" seniors residence

Saanich officials have granted design approvals for Canada's first "Passivhaus" seniors rental housing complex and a collection of family-oriented LEED® Gold Standard townhomes.

The redevelopment effort will replace the Greater Victoria Housing Society's (GVHS) aging Townley Lodge low-income seniors home at 1780 Townley Street with 51-units of seniors apartments and 16 family-oriented townhomes.

The four-storey seniors residence with studio and one-bedroom homes will be constructed in accordance with standards developed by the global authority on ultra-efficient construction techniques, Germany's Passivhaus Institut (also referred to as Passivehouse Institute).

Speaking to Citified in May of this year, project consultant Miko Betanzo of Cityspaces Consulting, said Passivhaus' reduction in maintenance costs for a high-density apartment complex will be significant.

"For non-profits in particular, efficiency and low operating costs are a big deal. With the Passivhaus standards we'll be able to achieve an 85% maintenance and operating cost savings compared to traditional construction techniques while budgeting for a construction premium of only 15%," Betanzo said, adding that residents will also benefit from lower utility bills as a result of efficiencies.

Together with seniors apartments, a total of 16 LEED® Gold Standard townhomes earmarked for low-to-moderate-income families will be situated on the expansive Townley Lodge property.

Although the LEED® construction standard requires a lower cost premium than Passivhaus, it too yields operating and maintenance cost savings for housing operators and tenants.

Parking at the complex will be in the form of an underground parkade that will also accommodate a car-share, bicycles and scooters.

Construction is expected to get underway by late 2017, pending full approvals from Saanich councillors. Although the construction schedule will prioritize the seniors residence, the townhomes may rise in tandem with the apartment or be phased in.

Existing Townley Lodge tenants will receive financial and other assistance from GVHS as part of a relocation effort planned for next year. The society will attempt to move as many residents as possible within its housing network and provide assistance to those who choose alternate housing. Upon project completion by early-to-mid 2019, former Townley Lodge residents will have the option of returning to the newly-built Townley Place. C

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