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Parcel 21 at Simon Fraser University provides energy efficient housing on campus

Located on Simon Fraser University’s campus in Burnaby, BC, Parcel 21 is a model for energy-efficient housing, incorporating Passive House principles, a rigorous energy-efficient design standard. Completed in early 2022, the residential complex consists of a four-storey wood-frame building situated on top of a concrete parkade, as well as a six-storey wood-frame building and a steel pavilion building. Owned by the SFU Community Trust, the facility includes 90 affordable rental apartment units dedicated to SFU students with families. There is also a central courtyard and community space, along with amenities such as study rooms and secure bike storage. 

Parcel 21 project incorporates Passive House principles for energy conservation

Local Practice Architecture retained Associated Engineering to provide structural and electrical engineering services on this $23 million project. Structural Lead and Engineer-of-Record, Jermyn Wong, tells us, “To meet the rigorous BC Energy Step Code requirements, our team applied many Passive House principles in our design. These included a well-insulated building envelope, a continuous air barrier to minimize leakage, high-performance windows, engineering and detailing of connections to minimize thermal bridging, a heat-recovery ventilation system, canopies and other structures that are thermally separated from the building envelope, and sunshades that help prevent overheating in the summer."

One of the key challenges that the project team addressed was wood shrinkage, an important consideration in the design of mid-rise, wood frame structures such as Parcel 21. Jermyn says, "We carefully considered the structural detailing to mitigate vertical shrinkage of the structure. We used engineered-wood floor I joists; prescribed a moisture content limit for all wood studs and wall plates; and detailed the interface between the floor framing and masonry elevator shafts to ensure the wood structure could shrink vertically near the shaft walls."

To preserve the continuity of the thermal envelope, the team specified out-board insulation to eliminate potential thermal bridging between the exterior stud walls and each level of the floor structure. The team specified insulation in the wall cavity of the first level of the residential interior walls, in combination with horizontal insulation on top of concrete slab above the parkade to minimize thermal bridging at that interface. In addition, detailing of the cantilever canopies and sunshade connections to the exterior walls was carefully undertaken to minimize thermal bridging.

Addressing the high seismicity in the Lower Mainland was another challenge. Jermyn tells us, “We used continuous tie-down rod systems at the ends of the shear walls to resist seismic overturning. These rods have take-up devices to compensate for the vertical shrinkage at each floor. The shear walls were laid out so they continue for the full height of the building, despite varying room layouts at each level.  Also, special drag strut details were necessary due to the lack of a concrete floor topping."

Parcel 21 also includes passive heating and cooling, using a heat exchanger to transfer heat from the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility to generate hot water on demand. 

Project Manager, David Woo, says, "In 2019, SFU Parcel 21 was selected as one of 11 winners of the Net Zero Energy Ready (NZER) Challenge competition in BC, a provincial CleanBC incentive program for large building construction. The program provides financial support for developments targeting NZER." 

Parcel 21 also received the Residential (Large) Award at the 2023 SAB Magazine Canadian Green Building Awards.

Our key personnel on the project included David Woo, Jermyn Wong, Esaly Wu, Louis De Lange, and Eunice Fang

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