How to affordably lower your GHG emissions by building a better home
There is a lot of talk these days about greenhouse gas emissions and our responsibility as Canadians to do our part. One area that governments at all 3 levels have begun targeting is the built environment and in particular new housing. Very recently the National Building Code introduced new requirements for energy efficiency for new homes; these have been adopted by a number of provinces including British Columbia. For anyone living in the city of Vancouver, you have experienced significant changes to how new homes are built and renovated as a result of the changes in energy efficiency requirements in the Vancouver Building Bylaw (Vancouver is unique in BC as having its own building code).
The recent changes at all 3 levels have resulted in increased construction costs; much debate has ensued as to what is the best/most cost effective approach and there is growing concern/panic on what the future might hold for ongoing changes to energy efficiency requirements and its impact on the cost of housing and the residential construction industry. BC is on track to require that all new housing will be built to a standard that would allow houses to produce as much energy as they consume by 2032; this is starting to be referred to as Net Zero housing and would be similar to current Passive House requirements for energy and ventilation.
At RDC Fine Homes we have been building super energy efficient homes since the early 2000's. Each time we complete and test a new project we learn new lessons; both in the measure of the clients feedback and in the testing we do on each and every home. The one thing that has stood out is the importance of ensuring our homes are air tight. We have experimented with a number of different approaches, and over the years have lowered the cost of air tightness and significantly improved our performance. With the right approach, attention to detail from the entire team (including subs) and proper testing, homes with very low air leakage can be achieved easily and at an affordable cost.
While most of the emphasis seems to focus on the energy savings and GHG emission reductions, the true value of an air tight home, with proper mechanical ventilation and intelligent design, is a home with dramatically improved thermal comfort and exceptional indoor air quality that is super quiet and durable.
Air tight construction (with proper ventilation) is really the 1st step towards building that better home with lower GHG emissions. As a primary focus during construction this begins to bring the cost of the Utopian high performance home within reach of every home owner; but only if it is considered at the time of construction. Retrofitting existing homes can be very expensive, so it is important to do it right the 1st time. Given how fast the building code is likely to change, do you want to risk building a drafty home with high energy bills that will quickly not conform to a modern standard when just by hiring the right builder you could have that home today?
A new option when considering an energy certification standard is the Net Zero Energy Label developed by The Canadian Home Builders Association. RDC is one of the 1st builders in Canada to be qualified to certify under this label.
Building your dream home to a standard the will meet or exceed future building codes and protects your families health can be affordable if you partner with the right design and construction team. At RDC we have been practicing this for over 15 years and are recognized as an industry leader across Canada. If you are curious as to how you might build an air tight home to the modern standard and reduce your GHG emissions please connect with me, I love to talk about a better built home! We really do believe in building you a healthy home for your happy family.
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2016