Builders participating at NRCan’s LEEP Technology Forums are invited to build an energy efficient home using some of the technologies they learned about. This section profiles some of the builders and the field trial homes they built.
Most recently, builders in BC selected new combinations of energy-efficient technologies. A number of the LEEP builder participants went on to build field trial homes with the new technologies with the objective of achieving energy performance levels ranging from Energy Star all the way to Net Zero Energy Ready. They accomplished their energy performance goals and now share their stories in a series of videos created by LEEP’s BC partners (BC Housing, BC Hydro, Fortis BC in the Lower Mainland of BC in 2015/2016). Led by BC Housing, the videos are available on BC Housing’s web site or accessed directly through the video links below.
LEEP Builder experience Overview / The builders’ perspective
LEEP New Westminster/Importance of energy modelling for R2000 micro-homes
LEEP Agassiz/Energy Star with Continuous Rigid Insulation
LEEP Chilliwack/R2000 home with focus on ventilation
LEEP Squamish/Right-sized mechanicals
Bob Deeks, Owner and Master Builder of RDC Fine Homes, shares the importance of right-sized mechanical systems. His team built two energy-efficient homes with the help of an energy advisor and HVAC designer.
Garth Campbell: This is my home, this is my parents’ home; and they’re both high efficiency houses.
Bob Deeks: We built two houses side by side, one for the kids who are 50 and one for their parents that we’re in right now.
This home is different because it’s an Energuide 85 home. It would be one of the most sustainably built energy efficient houses built in Canada today.
Garth Campbell: For the high efficiency home, the envelope is critical. The heating system, the air exchange system. Door seals triple glazed windows all combined to make it such an incredibly comfortable perfect house to be in.
Bob Deeks: As we design the house, one of the most important members of the team is your energy adviser.
Ryan Coleman: A home is the biggest asset that you’re most likely going to own in your entire life, so you want to make sure that that asset is performing to the best that it is capable of. So achieving a well operating system starts with doing room by room load calculations.
Bob Deeks: Measuring every room, measuring the volumes, measuring the insulation the windows. If we bring in energy adviser and it’s like measuring something twice and cutting it once.
The vast majority of houses today, when the mechanical contractor looks to come in to size the mechanical system, tells you… like that … uh, you know, 30,000, 70,000, 100,000 BTUs.
Ryan Coleman: It’s not rule of thumb. It’s not, “Hey I’ve got a certain size house so it needs a certain size system”. You need to be more sophisticated than that.
Bob Deeks: Here we’ve got the heart of this system isn’t this an amazing furnace. You know it’s so small and compact. When we first engaged with our HVAC contractor they wanted to put a 70,000 BTU furnace in here. Once we did the mechanical design with you guys, and we understood exactly what our heat loss was, we’ve ended up with a 30,000 BTU unit.
Ryan Coleman: And then I guess, when you look at the actual system itself, we’ve got a very high performance efficiency rating at 95. It’s obviously Energy Star certified. Fits really well into this mechanical Room.
Bob Deeks: And you know that’s one of the biggest challenges we’ve had with our architects is they always want to shrink our mechanical room. We finally have a furnace here that fits in to a nice compact space.
Ryan Coleman: So a properly sized system delivering its operating intent sounds like a good idea to me.
Bob Deeks: And an Energy Star certification to meet our performance goals.
Ryan Coleman: Things like HOT2000 and the EnerGuide rating system, it’s really a foundational element to all high performance homes in Canada.
Bob Deeks: One of the amazing things about this home is the way it’s designed is that the floors feel warm. Most people walking into the house would actually think that we had heated floors.
Ryan Coleman: People don’t really think about that when they when they think about forced air. They think about hydronic. I loved when the homeowner was talking about that actual level of level of comfort was achieved in the house. It’s fantastic.
Bob Deeks: You know, the concept was that it would blow the air across the room and create that even thermal comfort.
So everybody wants to know what’s the payback on my energy efficiency house. What you get for that extra investment is you get a healthy environment for your family; a place that’s comfortable warm in winter, cool in summer.
Garth Campbell: Being satisfied and happy where you are, it’s the best value for the dollar. It’s all about quality of life.
Bob Deeks: It’s an amazing view isn’t it. It’s unbelievable. You know, these two lots side by side, view of the wilderness in this urban setting here.
Garth Campbell: Couldn’t have workedout better.
LEEP Thompson Cariboo Region/Advanced Mechanical Technologies with Focus on the Envelope
This video highlights the Alkali Lake Health & Wellness Centre, which received a Net Zero Energy Ready label from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). This is the first such project in a First Nations community and in a northern climate to achieve this recognition. The Esk’etemc First Nation, in partnership with health authorities, opened this five-bed facility to provide indigenous residents of the Thompson Cariboo region with culturally appropriate recovery services. LEEP introduced Sam Zirnhelt, owner of Zirnhelt Timber Frames, to technologies and experts he chose to work with on this project.
Charlene Belleau: Cutting the ribbon it’s like okay we’re here, it’s happened. It’s real. You know we’re standing in the facility. A lot of the timbers that are a part of this building come from our land. Come from within the Esk’etemc Nation.
Sam Zirnhelt: Today was really a special day. It was great to see the different generations and also just how many people came from different communities, the pride felt there from the community members and some of the friendships we’re starting to develop there seem to really come together today. It was very enjoyable.
Eric DenOuden: What intrigues me is the way it was constructed to be a very energy efficient structure and to be net zero ready.
Sam Zirnhelt: Once we started down the design path and realized hey, this is going to be a really cool building that’s going to be here for a couple of hundred years the way we’ve built it. What else can we do to make it better?
That’s where we got some interest from Natural Resources Canada and their LEEP program as well as BC Hydro and BC Housing.
Joe Hart: To have something like this that’s finished and monitored and something that we can look at and learn from is just a huge step.
Sam Zirnhelt: The way the building is designed unlike traditional timber frame there are no protrusions through the envelope so the building is extremely airtight. It’s just under 0.5 air chambers per hours. The primary focus for achieving net zero is to upgrade the envelope. We wanted to take it significantly further. We needed an overall minimum of 60% reduction in energy usage.
Eric DenOuden: We’re celebrating something. It’s the first building like this in northern BC and also it’s a first net zero building for the First Nations people. So it’s a first in a couple of ways and I think we’re here to show it off and to brag about it throughout Canada.
Sam Zirnhelt: During the design process where the modeling, like using HOT2000 for example comes in. It starts to tell you once you’ve improved the envelope you can really start to refine where your money is best spent.
Some of the other elements that were important were triple glazed windows as well as a super insulated foundation and under slab insulation.
Then once you get into the mechanical system it’s what level of efficiency you require in the HRV, what do we gain from installing heat pumps.
We’ve heavily emphasized in the last ten years on prefabrication. I think it’s the way to go. It allows us to keep people working in the shop in a controlled environment, reduce waste and really perfect the product itself more than we are able to with site building. It’s a meaningful project. It’s worth getting excited about. It’s worth putting extra effort into.
Charlene Belleau: It’s just a beautiful building. I can’t say enough about what we can do in a space like this.
Eric DenOuden: It’s the way of the future. We’ve come a long way in new homes. This is the leading technology that we’re using, a very energy efficient home, easy on our environment.