Recently, I was privileged to participate in the Local Energy Efficiency Partnerships (LEEP) program in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. LEEP is an initiative out of Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) and was sponsored in the Lower mainland by The Home Owner Protection Office (HPO) , BC Hydro, Fortis BC, the City of Vancouver, and the City of New Westminster.
LEEP is intended to assist home builders find and try innovative construction solutions to help them build high performance homes better, faster and more affordable. It is delivered on a regional basis with the intent to establish a critical mass of builders that are capable of pulling the best innovations suited for the region which can in turn pull through a responsive supply chain.
The following 3 innovations are products or practices that our LEEP builder group looked at and we at RDC really believe in; RDC will be implementing these technologies in our projects this year.
After reviewing the cost benefit analysis and understanding the impact that high performance windows can have on the overall energy efficiency of a home it is very clear that even in the relatively mild climate of the Lower Mainland this is one of the first things to consider when looking to renovate or build. Check out this energy calculator link from Cascadia Windows and Doors.
The energy calculator very quickly demonstrated the enormous impact low performance windows can have degrading the overall energy performance of your walls and roof. At RDC we specify triple pane windows for all our homes.
Recently, as energy efficiency in residential homes has improved, (in part as a result of changes to the building code), home owners have noticed that their furnace systems were not performing. Humidity was not kept in check and people were complaining their home were uncomfortable. The problem? The systems had not been sized correctly to match the energy needs of the high performance homes. The result was short cycling limiting the equipment’s ability to properly deliver conditioned air through out the home and properly manage humidity levels.
I wrote a LinkedIn blog post on this topic some time ago, See Top 5 Benefits To Designing A Comfortable Home. Through LEEP we were introduced to a Canadian company that has one of the only small furnaces stems available in North America called Dettson. RDC will be installing Dettson furnaces and their proprietary ducting system on 2 projects this year.
One of the most critical components of a high performance home or renovation is a right sized heating system. The Home Owner Protection Office is presenting a great webinar next week called New HVAC Code Requirements. This will be a an important seminar to attend if you are interested in how to ensure you have right sized equipment in your new home. (I am also the MC for the day).
While heat pumps have been around for many years they are notoriously noisy and are typically partnered with a gas furnace as they were unable to efficiently produce heat below 5 Celsius. Today a number of companies are offering heat pumps that can operate with incredible efficiency (providing up to 2 units of heat – or AC- for every unit of energy purchased).
The LEEP group had a presentation from Mitsubishi on their industry leading technology; we recently used the Pumy model by Mitsubishi on 3 new homes and have been very impressed. Dettson also offers a cold climate heat pump option as part of their furnace package and this is what we will be using this year.
LEEP was a fantastic opportunity for the builders who participated. If you see this opportunity in your local area (it should be coming to the interior of BC later this year) I highly recommend it. It is time very well spent. Kudos to NRCAN and HPO, BC Hydro, Fortis and the lower mainland communities who provided the funding.
While the LEEP group looked at a number of other innovations these are our top 3 for this year. If you are interested in learning more please connect with me, I love to talk housing technology.
– Bob Deeks
Update: January 2018 Bob worked with BC Housing to create the video above showcasing our energy-efficient homes.