HVAC systems play key role in high-rise transformation

The work to bring 146 units back into use at the Ken Soble residential tower block in Hamilton, Ont., will make it North America’s first Passive House high-rise retrofit.

The federal government this week announced $10 million in National Housing Strategy funding to support the retrofit of the 17-storey tower that will provide affordable apartments for seniors.

Passive House buildings have ultra-low energy demands, eliminating dependence on fossil fuels for heating and cooling, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of this work, new air handling units with heat recovery direct ducting, electrical VAV ‘boosters’ and modernized exhaust risers will go into all suites. This means that at its peak, the total energy needed to heat or cool each unit will be equal to the energy needed to run three incandescent light bulbs (100W).

Following its planned reopening in 2020, design lead ERA Architects hopes that the 1967-built Ken Soble tower will be a model for housing quality and energy performance for thousands of postwar apartment towers across the country.