Glad to have attended this conference, it was fantastic and look forward to the next one. 

Having spent 2 days in Portland Maine at the NAPHN (North American Passive House Network) conference I learned a great deal about the passive house movement. What people don’t realize is that these homes come in all shapes, sizes and price levels. We saw everything from $77,000 Passive House mobile homes to high end architecturally designed homes. 

So what is a passive house? (as defined by Passive House Institute US)

"A building constructed using passive house principles is very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Energy losses are minimized. Any remaining heat demand is provided by an extremely small source. Avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load, which is similarly minimized. An energy recovery ventilator provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply. The result is an impressive system that not only saves up to 90% of space heating costs, but also provides a uniquely terrific indoor air quality.

A passive building is a comprehensive system. “Passive” describes well this system’s underlying receptivity and retention capacity. Working with natural resources, free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently, instead of relying predominantly on ‘active’ systems to bring a building to ‘zero’ energy. High performance triple-glazed windows, super-insulation, an airtight building shell, limitation of thermal bridging and balanced energy recovery ventilation make possible extraordinary reductions in energy use and carbon emission.”

Interested in learning more? Feel free to CONTACT US

Passive House Explained in 90 Seconds

As worldwide weather patterns continue to become increasingly unpredictable due to climate change, architects have responded by turning to alternative building materials that provide better protection from the elements—and that require low upkeep. One alternative cladding material in particular has seen a spike in popularity over the last decade because of its durable nature and low-cost overtime: fiber cement. 

A combination of cellulose fibers, sand, and cement, fiber cement panelling requires little maintenance once installed, and can withstand high levels of moisture, intense heat, and severe frost.

"It’s probably no secret that the American home is a bit of a porker. In 2013, the median and average new, single family house was 2,478 and 2,662 square feet respectively—higher than previous, 2007 pre- bubble figures. Compare this to 1950, when the average new home was a mere 983 square feet. And that’s not all. Fewer people are living in today’s home; average household sizes have shrunk from about 3.37 in 1950 to 2.55 today. And we are all probably familiar with the environmental implications of these bigger, less occupied homes: they require more resources to build and maintain, they lead to sprawl, requiring more resources to get to and from, yada, yada, yada.  

But somehow the McMansion pill would be a bit easier to swallow if these big homes were used. If every bedroom was slept in, every dining room dined in, every rumpus room rumped in. Unfortunately, if we are to believe a group of UCLA researchers, such is not the case.  

A book released a couple years ago called “Life at Home in the 21st Century” tracked 32 middle class Los Angelino families as they went about their daily affairs, tracking their movements and habits to see how people actually lived nowadays. With one family (#11), the researchers tracked the location of each parent and child on the first floor of the house every 10 minutes over two weekday afternoons and evenings. In other words, primetime for the family’s waking hours at home.  

What did they find? Basically, that Family 11 used a small fraction of the available area, with almost all traffic centered in the dining, kitchen and family rooms; the latter room’s activity focused around the TV and computer. Based on the above diagram, I would guestimate that about 400 of the 1000 or so of the first floor’s available square feet are used. The rest of the spaces—the dining room, living room, porch—are, for all intents and purposes, extraneous architecture.  

So the question becomes, if Family 11 is representative of the average American family, and if their home is about average size (tag an upper floor on the 1000 square feet and you’re about there) why does their home have so much more room than needed? Moreover, if we were to start fresh, if we removed the influence of developers, builders, architects, realtors and legislators—most of whom have a vested interested in building bigger homes with bigger infrastructural appetites—what would the ideal single-family home look like?”

We often post about roofing and cladding but we also offer Bison Product. Bison IP offers rooftop pedestals, Ipe and porcelain pavers and custom outdoor furnishings such as benches and planters.

We have completed several projects such as UQAM (Montreal), IWK (Halifax) and the Fortis Building (St John’s). Their products & services are second to none and we are proud to be their distributor. 

Call or email us, we’d love to help you with your next rooftop living space.

This is a great project designed by the good folks at East Coast Modern and built by the talented Brad Goodsell Design Build crew here in Halifax, NS.

The MODCLASS was built for The Halifax Independent School which was in need of additional space for their growing student population, and they wanted to do something interesting. The school found our the East Coast Modern website and contacted them to see if we could design and build a modern classroom for their students - and if they could do all of this in just 6 weeks! This is how MODCLASS was born.

If you are in Halifax drop into the school yard to take a look at the newest addition to the East Coast Modern portfolio.

We are honoured to be a part of this great project and to have supplied them with VaproShield, Firestone EPDM, Ventgrid and SIGA Tapes.

El Buro con mi y @brnnbldc (at Ciudad Condal)

Home for the past 5 days. Great use of glass for privacy, shading and good looks. (at Olivia Balmes Hotel)

Wicked #paris #marais

Somewhere near Paris


We are honoured to have been called on by Markline Industries to offer some advice on this NYC Post Disaster Housing Prototype designed by Garrison Architects. As you can see from the pictures, Markline chose to use VaproShield WrapShield SA as their WRB of choice  due to its high performance properties as well as the ability to install it on a production line without having to use primers and tapes which would ultimately slow down production. Click the link above to read more about this interesting and important project. 

This Austrian solar wonder generates more energy than it consumes. Read more.

Below is a great write up by the good folks at Maine Green Building Supply discussing the benefits of using SIGA Tapes with SIPs (structural insulated panels). We feel SIPs are an excellent choice for new construction projects but unfortunately they aren’t easy to find here in Atlantic Canada. 

Structural Insulated Panels or “SIPs” are a high-performance building system that serves as the structure and insulation of a building. These building envelopes are extremely robust, energy efficient and cost effective. Typically, SIPs consist of insulating foam core inside two structural OSB facings.  SIP building systems are airtight and extremely well-insulated, but the weakest points of the system are panel joints— if the joints are not properly sealed.

Wigluv 60 tape is designed to seal SIP exterior OSB sheathing seams, as well as rough openings for windows, doors and penetrations. All exterior panel seams (including roof and side walls) can be sealed with Wigluv tape. With extraordinary adhesive strength at high and low temperatures, Wigluv is rain-proof and impervious to water, with a slight perm rating to allow panels to dry properly. Wigluv’s material technology prevents condensation buildup on the tape, making it a smart choice for sealing exterior panel joints. In addition to effective sealing, Wigluv forms extremely well to OSB, and application is simple and clean.

Rissan 60 and Rissan 100 tapes are designed to securely seal interior SIP joints. Rissan tape is vapor closed and contains no VOC’s. Much like Wigluv, it bonds extremely well to OSB. Taping SIP joints with Rissan ensures a tight seal on the building interior, and helps prevent moisture from penetrating the weakest areas of the panels. Rissan also adheres easily around interior pipe penetrations, and guarantees a uniform air seal for the structure’s weakest points.

Upright Frameworks, a weatherization and SIP construction company in Maine, attests to the quality of SIGA Tape applications on SIPs: “We prefer working with SIPs for our new construction projects, and so we’re pretty confident that we know how to create tight structures. But when the specs require a specific ACH target, we don’t leave anything to chance. We use SIGA Tape on all our panel seams.”

When building performance is a top priority and failure is not an option, SIGA Tapes provide exceptional, high-performance interior and exterior air sealing in a SIP building system.