FPInnovations, member-company 475 High Performance Building Supply, and the Canadian Wood Council partnered to oversee the building of three residential projects that meet Passive House standards located in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and B.C., to demonstrate the suitability and versatility of wood-fibre insulation panels in diverse Canadian climate regions. The partners’ aim is to speed adoption of the product in the market.
Construction began in 2018 and the last home is expected to be completed this spring. Contractors used wood-fibre insulation panels imported from Europe instead of rigid foam to insulate the homes’ exterior walls. The partners believe the panels can be manufactured in Canada far less expensively than in Europe, with an R-factor rating equivalent to rigid foam panels.
The renovation project near Collingwood, Ontario adds a two-storey contemporary addition to a 150-year-old pioneer log house, while the Saskatoon co-housing project consists of a nine-unit co-housing development. The Gibsons, B.C. single-storey prefabricated house is built to meet LEED Platinum standards.
“Dry process wood-fibre insulation panels are the future of building insulation in Canada because we have the natural resources and industry to produce them economically,” says FPInnovations lead scientist, Bob Knudson, “We have excess fibre from sawmills for their production, and they offer superior performance and insulation, in addition to being environmentally safer than rigid foam insulation.”
“We believe these panels will lead to a transformation of the North American construction industry towards making durable, high-performance Passive House and zero-energy buildings more common,” says western regional manager of 475 High Performance Building Supply, Lucas Johnson.
FPInnovations designed tests to determine the fire safety, stability, durability, and insulation rating of the panels. Wood-fibre insulation demonstrates superior fire performance compared to polymer foam insulation that is currently used in North America, and the panels also show superior moisture management in wall and roof systems compared to polymer foam insulation.
“Wood-fibre insulation is not a structural panel plywood or OSB. It’s a superb insulation panel that offers exceptional thermal and acoustic insulation in both partition and structural walls,” says municipal affairs and technical manager of Wood WORKS! B.C. and the Canadian Wood Council, Peter Moonen.
Each home’s performance is being monitored by FPInnovations for at least a year and meaningful results are expected by mid-summer. Knudson says education is key to building a Canadian market. “When the data are analyzed, the results will demonstrate their effectiveness and reliability, and then I’m sure manufacturers will come forward.”