Passive House Renovation Cheaper than Replacement

Property owners of multifamily buildings regularly wrestle with the cost comparison of maintenance, renovation, and replacement. Some are discovering that Passive House retrofits (EnerPHIT) can actually be the least expensive way of maximizing the value of the property as an asset.

I'm not a fan of creating a sea of towers, but some areas are full of precast concrete - or sometimes structural brick - residential highrises that were built in the 60's and 70's. As the owner, do you:

a) continue to spend money on maintenance to keep them habitable,

b) spend money on renovating them to give them a new lifespan, or

c) spend money to demolish them and build anew?

Riverside Drive is an example of a building that was cheaper to convert into a Passive House building than to do anything else.

The 20-storey multifamily rental building is owned by the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation (WECHC). The owner calculated that over the course of the next 30 years, maintenance would be something like $40M if I recall correctly. Building new would be perhaps $30M - and would take years to get a design, city approvals, have built, and to find new homes for the residents. The estimated total cost of an EnerPHIT upgrade and operation over the same period was about half that.

It wasn't simple at all, but the upgrade has improved the living conditions, eliminated the resource expenditure of building new, and dropped energy usage to a tiny fraction of what it was.

For less money.