Wood Burning (part 2)


A Scan Andersen 10 woodstove, installed in the MCNZH.

People commenting on a recent national CBC article about Edmonton’s NetZero Energy houses spent a lot of effort criticizing the fact that the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) has a wood burning stove. Besides proving beyond a doubt that the only thing worse than an ignoramus is an anonymous ignoramus, the comments taught me a bit about what messages to send in a sound bite culture such as ours.

For the record, the MCNZH will consume net zero annual energy without taking the wood burning stove into account. Even if we never burn a fire, the house will consume about 8000 kWh of electricity per year and its PV modules will produce about 8000 kWh per year.

Our Scan Andersen 10 wood stove has been installed, and we really love the quality of warmth that it radiates. Our source of wood will be construction waste from renovation projects in the neighbourhood. If we heated only with wood, here’s how big a pile the MCNZH would use annually:


A pile of tightly packed construction waste this size will heat the MCNZH for one year.

The pile is 1500 litres in volume, and it represents two thirds of a cord of wood (the cord would be 30% bigger because of the extra spaces between split firewood). We’ll be able to burn the wood very cleanly, because the stove is surrounded by the thermal mass of the concrete floors and a brick mass wall that will installed behind it. A quick clean hot fire will radiate heat into the mass, which will slowly release it into the house for hours afterwards.

Because the heat from the fire will be displacing electric heat from our baseboard heaters, we will in effect be converting construction waste into electricity. The wood stove should make the MCNZH a net electricity exporter of 2000-2500 kWh per year. Because the construction waste wood would have rotted in a landfill anyway, I consider it to be completely carbon neutral. That’s good for the environment, and wood heat provides a good deal of the resiliency that the times ahead will demand.

(cross posted at raisingspaces.com)

Media (1)

We did some media yesterday, and there are some interesting conversations going on:


The CBC article that the conversations are based on was innacurate in that it states that we will have paid $100,000 extra for the home. The cost will be closer to $75,000 extra. It also implies that the home in the background is ours, when in fact it's the Riverdale NetZero Project.

We also go written up in the Edmonton Sun right here, which was surprisingly accurate given my experiences in the past. Why did they have to mention my wife's age though? Sheesh! Way to get a guy in trouble!

Open House


We had a successful open house yesterday, with over 400 people attending. It was really fun meeting so many different people. I was impressed with how knowledgeable everyone was. The term “thermal mass” didn’t make anyone’s eyes glaze over, and the questions were very informed.

My gratitude goes out to the volunteers who helped make the day a success.

We’ll have another open house in a couple of months, when the solar awnings and solar hot water system are complete.

Open House!


We’re having an open house next Saturday. Please stop by if you like. We’ll have the main and second floor concrete floors poured by then, and we hope to have the wood stove installed too. I’d love to meet you if you’ve commented on the website before. Actually, I’d love to meet you regardless!

The idea is that you can see the two houses in different stages of construction. The Riverdale house is completely done. If you haven’t been down there yet I highly recommend it. My house uses many of the same techniques as the Riverdale house, and many of the construction details are still visible.

See the flyer attached to this post for more details. See you on the 14th!