A new project by Chris Magwood and the team from Endeavor Center is pushing the envelope of green building technology. Unlike other projects of its kind, this home in Peterborough was built without the help of grants or subsidies, but as a purely commercial effort. This is because Chris believes that the market is changing and the building industry must emulate that change to meet the growing demand for greener homes: “Placing the house on the open market will hopefully show other builders that there is an appetite for homes of this type. We believe that the market is changing and that owners are willing to invest in a home that has very low operating costs and a high degree of resilience, and which makes their health and wellbeing a priority,” said Magwood.
Carefully considered construction
The greenest home in Canada has a number of revolutionary green building technologies combined to form a harmonious system that works to reduce consumption and promote healthy living. Each element of the building design was carefully considered and the building process was designed to have as little impact on the environment as possible. For example; most of the building materials were sourced locally (within 250 kms) and materials were chosen for their low embodied energy (like straw bales).
The walls of the home were constructed from Naturebuilt prefabricated straw bales while the basement walls were constructed using insulated blocks; “We’ve got R-80 in the attic, R-35 in the walls, R-28 in the basement walls and R-16 under the basement floor,” said Magwood. With careful monitoring by the occupants, the HVAC energy consumption could be covered by the photovoltaic array on the roof. Monitoring energy consumption is made easier by the energy monitoring system with touch-screen display. This system can also be controlled with a smart phone from anywhere in the world. Should the home run off the grid, the costs would be about $325 annually.
Indoor air quality
Having an effective building envelope was of the utmost importance to Chris and his team and they managed to achieve an airtightness of 0.63 ACH/50, almost on par with Passivhaus standards. This made it essential that the indoor air was kept clean. The team opted for non-toxic materials and avoided materials containing fire retardants. The interior was finished with plaster and wood rather than drywall.
An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) supplies the home with fresh air without compromising the heating or moisture content of the home.
One of the most revolutionary additions to the home is the water and plumbing systems. The aim was to make the home as self-sufficient as possible and so rainwater collection plays a major role with a clivus multrum composting plumbing system in the basement. Rainwater collection systems mean that the homeowner can be self-sufficient if they choose with a hookup to municipal water if the need that too. The clivus multrum system is waterless with foam toilets upstairs which divert waste to the basement where it is composted. The home produces no sewage, but gray water is transported to municipal waste water system.
For Magwood, the home is meant to represent a very attainable standard in green building:
-We did not want this home to be a “one-off” specialty home. Any contractor or homeowner can reproduce the results of this home with materials and products that are off-the-shelf.
-We intentionally did not choose materials or systems that would require skills, sourcing or maintenance that are outside the scope of any builder or homeowner.
-While aesthetics are a highly personal matter, we wanted to create a home that fit into an existing neighbourhood. The exterior is intended to be attractive without being “showy.”
The home costs about $80 000 more than conventional builds which makes it a competitive option. With a completely non-toxic home with no off-gassing or chemicals and with a lifetime of energy saving and all the compost you can use, this additional cost will certainly be worth it in the long run. This is a great new step in a greener direction.
See the video here: http://vimeo.com/67578592