What Is A High Performance Home?
The home building industry throws around lots of confusing jargon regarding the form and nature of housing. One term that get used is High Performance. Many people can identify what a high performance car is, but how does this translate to houses?
Today, most homes in BC are built to the minimum standard defined in the British Columbia
A High Performance home is one that aspires to exceed minimum standards for details such as; indoor air quality, sound performance, even temperature distribution, durability and of course energy use. The best way to ensure that a new home meets a better standard is to measure it against a 3rd party certification program.Building Code. Did you know that the building code is the lowest standard one can build to and stay out of jail? Even though we have seen improvements in the code over the years, it still remains a minimum standard. Even most luxury homes, beneath the veneer of expensive finishes, still reflect a minimum standard of construction. Much like putting the body work of a Ferrari on the chassis of Chevy.
Current programs include:
- Holmes Approved Homes
- Energy Star
- Built Green
- Passive House
- CHBA's Net Zero standard
Utilizing one of these 3rd Party Certifications ensures your home is tested and measured against a recognizable standard. If your builder is not certifying their homes, there is little guarantee that the homes will actually meet the desired performance.
Here is a brief description of the various standards, and how they measure the performance of a new home or renovation.
This is a certification offered by the Holmes Group. You might know Mike Holmes from his reality renovation TV show, Holmes on Homes. Mike got into the TV business to try and raise the bar on residential construction. Around 5 years ago he became very frustrated that The Holmes Group was still getting upwards of 80,000 call a year from people who had suffered from faulty construction practices. The Holmes Group decided to set up a certification standard that would only accept the top builders in the country. This is not a standard you can apply to participate in, you have to be selected by the Holmes Team. To date there are 38 builders in Canada, so this is a pretty elite group. This certification focuses on the quality of the build behind the walls; the places that you, as a home owner, would never see until there is a failure. RDC was the 1st builder to be selected to join Holmes Approved Homes in BC.
This is an energy certification standard offered through Natural Resources Canada. Using a software called Hot 2000, a home`s energy use is measured at the design stage. The software creates an Energuide rating; a measure of the total energy use for the home as designed. Among other things, to qualify as Energy Star the home needs to meet a minimum EnerGuide rating, have all appliances rated as Energy Star (including the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)) and achieve an a certain air tightness standard (2.5 Air Change per Hour). RDC is an Energy Star builder.
Built Green is a similar standard to Energy Star in that it requires a minimum Energuide rating. While Energy Star is strictly an energy standard, Built Green is a more holistic green building standard that has a checklist requirement for things like indoor air quality, green building practices, site protection and environmental stewardship. Built Green can be applied to both new homes and renovations. (Bob Deeks chaired the committee that developed the renovation standard). RDC has been a Built Green member since 2006.
While LEED is better known for its green certification of commercial buildings they also have a residential certification standard. It is similar in nature to the Built Green standard but with a heavier requirement on the documentation process.
This is the granddaddy of all certifications developed in Canada in the 1980's. The Hot2000 software program was originally written to support R2000. R2000 was also used to help develop the German Passive House standard. R2000 is an energy and indoor air quality certification that is a bit of a hybrid between Energy Star and Built Green, but with a much stricter energy efficiency requirement. RDC is qualified to do R2000 but has never certified a home as we have focused on Built Green and Energy Star.
This is a German certification that has seen some uptake in North America over the last few years. The goal of a passive house is to design the home such that there is little or no requirement for heating or cooling equipment. The energy rating of a Passive House would be similar to that of a Net Zero Energy (NZE) home. RDC is planning to become Passive House certified this fall.
CHBA Net Zero Standard
This is a new certification from The Canadian Home Builders Association. It is designed to certify new homes and renovations. This new standard will measure a home’s ability, as designed, to produce as much energy, (through renewable energy such as photovoltaic solar panels on the roof) as it uses. RDC is one of the 1st builders to be qualified to build to this new Canadian standard. Look for our 1st Net Zero Energy home some time in 2017!
Over the last 10 years RDC has certified numerous homes as Built Green or Energy Star and we are really looking forward to our first Net Zero Energy home next year. If you are interested in this type of construction for you and your family, please connect with me; I enjoy talking about the benefits of high performance housing and we would love to be your high performance builder.
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016