NEWS RELEASE                                                                                             DECEMBER 16, 2014

Laneway house grand opening and solar panel fundraiser
Photo, video and interview ops for media of new green residential building

What: Open house and media tour of the Ethel Lane House, with photo/video/interview opportunities for a new green residential building project

When: 3:30pm, Wednesday December 17, 2014
Where: 1949 Ethel St., Kelowna (located off the alley behind 1951 Ethel St.)

KELOWNA, BC – The sustainable house of tomorrow is here today.

The first registered Living Building Challenge project in Kelowna will be move-in ready for its new tenant in time for Christmas.
The Ethel Lane House is a pilot project undertaken by the Thompson-Okanagan Collaborative of the Cascadia Green Building Council. Registered with the global Living Building Challenge, the Ethel Lane House meets the world’s most rigorous design and construction standard and certification program.

The 640-square foot laneway home includes water and energy saving features in its design and has been built to suit the needs of an assisted-living adult. In order to increase energy efficiency, the family has started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to purchase photo-voltaic solar-panels to help the home meet its energy-saving targets.


Deren Sentesy, building contractor with EnCircle Design Build Inc., led the design and construction of the Ethel Lane House.

“It was such a wonderful experience building for Jordan and his family,” says Sentesy, who chairs the Thompson-Okanagan Collaborative of the Living Building Challenge.


“I look forward to seeing him move in and experience independent living in a home that is good for him and for the environment. I am excited to see how the building performs over the next year and obtain official Living Building certification. The photo-voltaic solar-panels are a crucial component of that certification process.”

The Ethel Lane House is hosting a move-in party for the occupant. An open house, including a tour of the sustainable home, takes place at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 17, at 1949 Ethel St. The laneway house is located off the alley behind 1951 Ethel St. Media organizations are invited to tour the Ethel Lane House and interview members of the Thompson-Okanagan Collaborative of the Cascadia Green Building Council, and invited guests.


The Living Building Challenge comprises seven standards of high-level building performance: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty. Builders with registered projects must meet these rigorous standards to claim their project as one of the most sustainable and green buildings in the world.

More information:





  • There are 15 Living Building projects registered in Canada, including eight in BC. The Ethel Lane House is the first residential building in the Thompson-Okanagan and the third in BC. The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College in Penticton is the first institutional building to meet the Living Building criteria.
  • There are currently five Certified Living Buildings in the world. More than 116 registered Living Building challenge projects are in various stages of design and construction world-wide.


Deren Sentesy

Thompson-Okanagan Collaborative of the Cascadia Green Building Council


Super Insulated Walls

We have been talking with Roxul  makers of the arguably the best batt insulation available. They are interested in being part of our project and of suggested that their newer product called Comfort Board would be a better way to reach our goals of R44.  This product would be installed exterior to the building sheathing, on the outside of the framing.  Exterior insulation like this makes for a continuous building envelope that is more efficient.  With any luck Roxul will be able to support our project in a big way.


Super insulated Slab

At long last we have come to a decision about insulating our slab.  We installed 6” of EPS foam under the slab of the house with 3” of insulation between the slab and foundation walls.  In the garage we put only 3” under and 1 1/2” insulation around the perimeter.   Our crawl space will have 3” of rigid board installed on the walls with plywood over top to assist in mounting plumbing pipes and pumps.

With this system we are leaving all of the concrete exposed to the cold, choosing instead to bring the insulated layer around to the inside of the concrete.  Our 12” thick wall will cover the 8” concrete wall and 3” of foam before the slab starts.


Wall-Details---Double-Wall-System-Crawl-Space-Detail Wall-Details---Double-Wall-System-Slab-Install

Digging has begun

We have broken ground on the 8th Living Building Challenge project in BC.  The ground was easy and sandy.  Ground water was found about 8’ below the surface.  This was expected due to the spring rains and high water tables of the nearby creek.  Our rain water tanks and earth tubes will be kept 1’ above ground water.  Our foundation and footings are well above this level (2’ required by local code).


The Heating and Air Conditioning system (HVAC)

Integral Design Group used their expertise and experience in the designing of this unique system.  The HVAC is designed to take fresh air and return air through a number of 4” diameter pipes called earth tubes.  In the process the air takes on the temperature of the ground.  According to studies the earth tubes an have change the temperature by up to 13 degree Celsius.   In the building world there is lots of discussion about this use of this passive technology.  The long and short if it is, it works.

“We love the earth tube system installed in our home” Chris and Cathy Jennens, Kelowna, BC

In this house we will be running all of the air supply to the house fan through these tubes.  Manually adjusted dampers will mix the approbate amounts of fresh air into the system.  These dampers will be adjusted in the spring and fall.

Many materials for the earth tubes were considered.  (More detailed discussion can be found here ) Concrete, steel, HDPE, PVC, and polyethylene, .  Concrete works well for larger projects but is expensive and laborious to install without the use of heavy machinery.  Steel when coated offered an attractive alternative, however it’s proximity to water table and cost of install put questions in our mind about longevity and ruled it out of this project.  HDPE is available in many sizes including the 18” diameter we required, but the costs of the piping and heat welding required to connect the joints was expensive.   PVC is toxic and not permitted on LBC projects. That left us with polyethylene or “big O” as it’s referred to.  This piping is inexpensive, flexible, but only comes in 4” diameters.  Our challenge now is to bury the 18 4” pipes, each 100’ long, into the space beside the Ethel Lane House.


The Systems of Ethel Lane

Integral Design Group has been excellent in helping with the design of Ethel Lane House.  Their scope of work includes:

  • Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC),
  • Plumbing Design
  • Alternative solutions
  • Energy modelling to achieve Net Zero Energy
  • and consultation Well building standard

Here is a wonderful explanation of the systems of Ethel Lane House prepared by Integral Group.


Fresh energy

Returning from Living Future in Portland we have once again found new purpose.  There are so many cool people doing amazing things.  Looking forward to connecting with everyone again next year at LF15 in Seattle. But we trust that there will be many more opportunities to connect, like Groundswell and Collaborative Summit in September.


Ethel Lane House Launch Party

Fantastic event.  Thank you to everyone that took the time to join us.  Thanks to Jordan Lige’s family for making this possible.

The goal of the night was to share with the community an overview of the project and introduce the family to the community.  We opened the event by presented a brief overview of the project and how it relates to the Living Building Challenge.  Then we heard from Jamie and Trevor of Integral Design Group about the thought behind the mechanical systems. Lastly the owners Joanna and Nathan shared a few thoughts about the process and their hopes for the project.

The evening was also attended by:

The Joanna and Nathan Lige family, Integral Design group, En Circle Design Build, UBCO Eco Art video documentary team, Allen & Mauer Architects, Hugh Bitz Architect, Stonebridge Contemporary Originals, Tatham Design Associates, Waterplay, Bench Landscape Architecture, and many other brilliant minds.

We look forward to our onsite workshop coming up in August/Sept.


Earth Tubes

With the help of Trevor Butler and his company Earth Tubes we will be installing buried earth tubes in Ethel Lane House similar to the ones in the picture.  Over the centuries this “technology” has been used around the world but only recently have designers and engineers begun to revisit these systems.

Our goal is to install the equivalent of 12” diameter duct into a trench around the perimeter of the building.  This trench will simply act as a method of cooling the fresh air supply in the summer or warming it up in the winter.  We will be using 100” of polyethylene Big “O” similar to the material used in perimeter drains.

Earth Tube Diagram
From David Suzuki Earth Tubes also may be referred to as air-ground heat exchanger, earth warming/cooling tubes, earth channels, earth air tunnels, underground air pipes.

Moving Water Systems

As noted in our last post we have had to do away with a full house craw space.  Instead we have opted for a hybrid of sorts.  We will digging a dropped crawlspace under the the bathroom to accommodate the composting toilet.  This space will hold the systems for the Black, Grey and fresh water supply.  All pumps and systems that can be damaged by water must be installed above the high water mark, which is only a couple of feet down from the ceiling.   Our composting toilet has no electrical or mechanical systems that will be damaged by water, and our backup sump pump is submersible.

We have also moved the rain water tanks out of the crawlspace to a hole to be dug under the deck.  This will eliminate the chance of hydraulic lifting that might happen in flood situations.  Our choice of tanks has also changed and we will be installing only one Super Tank from Premier plastics that will be buried below grade close to spring ground water levels, which are rumoured to be 8’ below ground in that area.