Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Design

After much discussion here are some of the things we hope to include in the project.

  • Super efficient Double wall systems
  • High insulation values R24 foundation, R44 walls, R60 roof
  • Buried earth tubs to provide net-zero conditioning to the house all year round
  • Small electric heating coil as the building envelope will be super efficient
  • Air tight drywall insulation
  • Grid tied Solar PV array to generate electricity with goal of NET ZERO Energy
  • Rain water Harvesting for dishwasher, laundry, irrigation
  • Composting toilet
  • Triple paned efficient windows
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures
  • Materials all RED LIST READY (no bad stuff = no bio accumulative toxins)

We are excited to get this project moving.

The house will be monitored in construction and operation to verify the environmental performance as set out by the Living Building Challenge


Efficient Buildings

A number of ideas have been circulating through our minds on how to achieve the request list of our clients.  Budget is a huge consideration. So is the long term value of the project.  Since they don’t intend on moving in the near future some more interesting approaches can be considered.

The approaches we considered were:

1. LEED for Homes

2. Built Green

3. Living Building Challenge

Weighing each of these programs out Built Green is the easiest.  It’s simply a best practices in construction and building techniques.  LEED for homes came into the middle of the pack however the upfront design costs and detailed analysis required before submission meant that we are already late in applying.

From the early stages partnering with Integral Group seems to be a good strategy.  Integral group have extensive experience in all these green building assessment procedures including 30 LEED Platinum projects and 3 Living Building Challenge Buildings.

Living Building Challenge seemed like the simplest and most challenging.  Requirements are for building performance to measured over the course of a year, as opposed to LEED which requires intense modelling simulations.  As we are closely connected to the Cascadia Region Green Building Council the Living Building Challenge was the more obvious choice.


Caring for Others

Starting out our clients have had a clear vision of the features we needed to in the house

  • Energy efficient building that has low utility bills
  • Long lasting, durable, low maintenance surfaces
  • Low Construction Costs
  • Drains in water prone areas (bathroom) incase of flooding
  • Interior monitoring and ability to remotely control things like temperature, & humidity, as well as monitoring for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, radon.
  • Security system that will help ensure clients door is locked when he leaves his house
  • Occupancy sensors to turn on and off lights

Other things that we have included in this house

  • dishwasher to make sure things are clean
  • induction hot plate instead of electric range
  • apartment size washer & dryer
  • Loft space for painting & drawing

Affordable Housing

The project has been funded by the Vancouver Foundation.  This is a hugs step in supporting the affordable housing efforts in our community.  Funding like this will reduce the amount of borrowing from financial institutions, and allow us to increase the scope of the project to perhaps meet the Living Building Challenge.

Cities should be looking to fund projects like this in order to reduce the costs of health care.  Providing affordable accommodations on infill pieces of land we believe will change the scope and feel of our cities.  Having a challenged family member or aging parents living on the same property allows so many more opportunities for affordable housing in the Okanagan.

Affordable lane way housing will also result in a stronger more resilient community.  In other cities infill lane way housing has resulted in increased community interaction, safer streets, and more beautiful walking spaces.  It might be difficult for city planers and residents to see this but it will increase the happiness of the city.

Family Support

Meeting with clients to discuss project house for his brother.  The project is very compelling.  Design and build a small house for his special needs brother.  His brother has never lived alone before.  The design and build of this project would allow him a home that he has never had.  The location of the house, across the yard, is ideal for his family to look after him and help him with the various activities he is not so good at.  Both my clients and their young children are excited to see this project underway.

To help fund this our clients are applying for funding from Giving in Action a program of the Vancouver Foundation.  Funding from this foundation will go a long way to helping provide long term housing for their family member.