Glass Canada

Features Architectural design Contracting
Creativity meets common sense

August 31, 2023  By Rich Porayko

The combination of panels and windows created challenges for sizing and spacing that the glazing contractor had to overcome to achieve the highest sustainability standards.

AT A GLANCE – 825 Pacific Artist Hub

  • Architect: IBI Group
  • Developer: Grosvenor Americas
  • Window Manufacturer: Cascadia Windows
  • Glass Fabricator: PFG Glass Industries
  • Glazier: VIP Window Installations

825 Pacific Artist Hub is an innovative arts incubator located in the heart of Vancouver. Since its opening in 2021, 825 Pacific has become a hub for creativity and collaboration, encouraging emerging artists to build their own communities and share their work with the world.

825 Pacific is a seven-story concrete multipurpose arts and culture hub designed and certified to the Passive House Standard. The building is 100-percent electric powered with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. 825 Pacific is currently the tallest certified Passive House building in B.C. and the first certified Passive House multipurpose arts and cultural building in the country. 

As the architect of record, IBI Group worked with Passive House consultant, Morrison Hershfield, and design architect, ACDF Architecture, to deliver the tallest Passive House building in Vancouver for Grosvenor Americas.


The space offers artists access to affordable studios, public performances and workshops from top industry professionals. It is also home to a variety of events, including art exhibitions, screenings, lectures and workshops. From gallery openings to live music shows, 825 Pacific Artist Hub provides unique opportunities for people to explore diverse creative expression in an inspiring atmosphere.

Cascadia Windows was recognized with a 2022 Vancouver Regional Construction Association Silver Award for their Cascadia Universal Series fibreglass-framed windows installed at 825 Pacific. With an overall effective U-value of 0.80, the Passive House Institute-certified windows feature Cardinal 366 and Cardinal 180 triple-glazed insulating glass units fabricated by Langley, B.C.,-based PFG Glass Industries.

According to Mike Battistel, president of Cascadia Windows and Doors, not only did Cascadia’s high performance fiberglass Universal series window enable the project to achieve Passive House certification, the project stakeholders gave the advantage to fiberglass because of it’s durability and long-term performance. 

“Fiberglass has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion and contraction,” explained Battistel.  “Fiberglass and glass have almost the same coefficient of thermal expansion contraction. There’s almost no stress on the seals and gasket during the lifespan of the window. The tightness levels and the water penetration resistance lasts much longer than window systems that have materials with differential movement.” 

Battistel shared that Cascadia’s products are often used in the far north. “We do a lot of hospitals and schools and community centres in Alaska, the Yukon, and Nunavut, including Baffin Regional Hospital Iqaluit and Iqaluit Community Center. They wouldn’t think of using anything but triple units with fiberglass frames. It’s so expensive to build that they need windows that can last 50 years or more. That means the materials need a low thermal expansion coefficient so to prevent expansion and contraction with the big temperature swings.”

All of Cascadia’s windows on 825 Pacific are rated for 730 pascals water penetration resistance, the highest in North America. “We have our own testing facility in-house and we test about five percent of our products as they come off the line,” said Battistel. “We test everything at 730 pascals, and we have had a 100 percent success rate so far in 2023.”

In Vancouver, a lot of people still remember the leaky condo crisis back in the in the early 2000s. “The building envelope consultants and architects on projects like 825 Pacific prefer having our windows because they have more assurance that the windows are going to perform from a water penetration resistance perspective.”

In Passive House construction, there’s much more stringent air tightness testing. “Cascadia’s windows also meet an extremely high air tightness rating so when they completed the whole building air tightness testing, our windows were never an issue.” 

“The design of this building is a combination of the windows and panels,” explained Zahra Mosharzadeh, a certified Passive House designer and project manager for Cascadia. “The alignment between these materials is what dictated the size of the windows. It was complicated to figure out the exact spacing between these panels and align with the size and configuration of our windows.”

“A basic rule of Passive House is to have more windows on the south side and fewer windows on the north side,” said Mosharzadeh. “There is also a specific ratio of operable, in-swing windows to fixed windows for fresh air circulation. With an inward swing casement window, if the sill is below 42 inches, it can create a fall hazard. We had a lot of conversations and meetings around this condition.” 

The solution was a small, operable hopper window on the bottom that only opens four inches maximum. Fresh air with no fall hazard.

According to Mosharzadeh, normally in a Passive House project aluminum window frames would need to be further recessed to achieve a better thermal performance. However, fibreglass enabled the performance requirements without having to be extensively recessed. 

“Our involvement in the 825 Pacific Passive House project has provided us with an opportunity to leverage our expertise in insulating glass design and manufacturing techniques, as well as contribute ideas on how we can improve efficiencies,” said Steve Nielsen, president of PFG Glass Industries. “With every new project, we strive to push the boundaries of energy saving building materials and make positive contributions to the environment. We look forward to continuing our work on important Passive House projects.” •

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