Edmonton Housing: The Bad and the Good

I work in Windermere (on the southwest edge of the city - south of Henday Drive) and see the kind of houses that are being built and find it kind of depressing.  Houses are framed with significant thermal bridging, there’s no thought towards orienting the streets or individual houses for maximum solar gain, many homes have just double pane windows and there’s not a single solar panel anywhere.

It’s not possible to squeeze another north-facing window on this house. These will be a net energy loss every year for the entire life of that house.

When I was a boy if we didn’t close the entrance door fully in the winter time, my father would chastise us by saying “What are you doing, trying to heat the great outdoors?”.  Apparently that’s what this house is designed to do as it has an outward facing gas fireplace built in to its side.

It was against the backdrop of the above that I ran across Oxford Phase 2 - a neighbourhood that requires all homes to be certified by either BuiltGreen Canada Gold, LEED Canada for Home, ENERGY STAR, R2000, or achieve a minimum EnerGuide rating of 80. Not only that, but people lined up overnight just for a chance to buy a lot!



There is a demand for energy efficient homes in Edmonton.  I suspect that one of the primary reasons for someone to buy a lot in Oxford is the fact that you wouldn’t have to risk developing an advisarial relationship with your builder by pushing them to build a high efficiency home.  By building in Oxford, you can make the city the bad guy and say “I’d love to buy your standard home but, gosh darn it, the city is forcing me to get a certified house” then get the house you really wanted in the first place.


Passive House in New Brunswick . . . Someday

OK, I know that GreenEdmonton is about living green here - i.e. in Edmonton - but I have something I wanted to share with you.   My wife and I have started the planning process for a Passive-House designed house in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

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Congratulations to Peter Amerongen and Habitat Studio & Workshop Ltd.

Congratulations to Peter Amerongen on winning "Net-Zero Energy Home Champion of the Year" and to the team at Habitat Studio & Workshop Ltd on winning "Net-Zero Energy Home Product of the Year" for their PV Awning.  I believe this is the very awning that is on Conrads house.

Check out: http://netzeroenergyhome.ca/2011-award-winners


How to Monitor Changes to the Energy Efficiency of a Home

Unlike vehicles where it is easy to compare efficiency by comparing the mileage (expressed in either miles per gallon or litres per 100 km), comparing efficiency of two houses - or comparing efficiency before and after improvements to a house - is much more difficult.  If a homeowner makes an investment in improved energy efficiency it is difficult to compare the effect of the improvement from one month to the next due to seasonal changes.  Comparing a months worth of post-improvement energy consumption with the same month of the previous year or even the average of that month over the previous X years is an improvement but still doesn't really provide a direct “apples to apples” comparison as the month immediately following the improvement may have been warmer or colder than usual.  read more... »