green building

Flex House (part 1)

MCNZH, First Floor

We have a bad habit in North America of not planning for the future. In our built environment, one way in which this habit manifests itself is disposable buildings. Tearing down a building after 30 years, a practice that would shock most Europeans, is completely normal here. We need to change this mindset.  read more... »

Insolate and Add Mass

Insolate

in·so·late [in-soh-leyt] verb: to expose to the sun's rays

When planning a cold-climate eco-home, you first insulate and seal, then you insolate. That is, you design the house to capture as much energy from the sun's rays as possible.

The Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) will be situated on a lot that is 33' wide from East to West. Local bylaws dictate that the sideyards of a house must be a least 4' wide. That leaves 25' of width for our all-important south wall. As you can see from the above picture, we have maximized the opportunity.  read more... »

Location, Location...

This is 84th Avenue. The street on the left is 99th street. The green arrow is pointing at the future location (tearing down in May) of the Mill Creek NetZero Home.

I have been learning about ecohouses for years now. One thing you discover early is that a great deal of them are built in the country. The people who value energy efficiency and green building often have an affinity for a more natural setting than a city like Edmonton provides.

The thing is, most often these people work elsewhere. In fact, I've never heard of a green home in the country that was within walking distance to any jobs (I guess it could exist on a farm).

So you build green, but you commute two hours a day in your dinosaur burner?  read more... »

Insulate and Seal

This is Rob Dumont's home (see this pdf file) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It was built in 1992, and it still stands as one of Canada's most energy-efficient homes. Rob Dumont was also involved in building the Saskatchewan Conservation House in Regina, in 1977. That was the prototype house that proved that the best building technique for cold climates is to build highly airtight, highly insulated houses.

So, when building a home like the Mill Creek NetZero Energy Home - that is, a cold climate home that produces as much energy over the course of a year as it consumes - the two most important steps to take are to insulate and seal it.  read more... »