About the Design

The Cottonwood Passivhaus is located on a pie-shaped corner lot in a new subdivision of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The area is currently the “edge of town,” so the site enjoys views toward the North Saskatchewan river valley to the southwest. The ground slopes down significantly from the front yard to the rear yard, allowing for a basement walkout.


The owners wanted a house that could function on one level, which meant including amenities such as main-floor laundry and an elevated rear deck. Electrical and plumbing service will be roughed-in in the basement should future owners wish to relocate the laundry, or upgrade the basement to a standalone guest suite.

The main floor is roughly organized along a north-south circulation axis — from the main entry, through a hall into the kitchen/living area, and out to the rear covered deck. The house footprint is kept compact to minimize total envelope area and thus minimize heat loss. Primary living spaces – bedrooms, living rooms, kitchen – are oriented toward the south with generous glazed openings to capitalize on passive solar gains.


Architectural controls imposed by the land developer largely dictate overall aesthetic themes to achieve a consistent neighbourhood character. While somewhat at odds with sustainable lifestyle choices (e.g. requirement for an attached two-car garage), the outcome still proves to be an environmentally high-performing design that is expected to achieve official Passive House Certification.

We hope the project demonstrates that exceptional energy efficiency is possible with minimal additional investment not only under ideal conditions, but also in a suburban context.