Saturday, November 5, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Nice and warm inside the Passive House no Furnace and 20 plus degree Celsius Windows and Doors show less than 1 degree difference between Wall , Frame and Glass.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Do nothing and still save money? Who realized his dream of home ownership as a passive house may not claim this formula for its heating bills. A mere 15 kilowatt-hours may consume such a building per square meter per year. This is possible only with an excellent thermal insulation. And that begins with the insulation of the floor plate. The XPS insulation holds in this field of application of the building weight and the moisture from the soil was playing while making the necessary reliable, high insulation values.
A passive house is designed so that it can do without a heater. Even in freezing temperatures prevail in the interior of the room a pleasant temperature. The heat comes from the sun, whose rays reach south-facing windows in the house, the waste heat from electrical appliances and the body heat of the residents.Compared to conventional heating systems is the amount of heat, of course, very low. The heat is thus a valuable asset, which needs to be kept inside the house. Triple-glazed windows, a ventilation system, which preheats the fresh air, and the perfect insulation of the building envelope are the barriers that prevent the loss of energy. The insulation thicknesses are from 25 to 40 centimeters - whether on the roof, wall or under the floor slab. The principles of the Passive House Institute (PHI) to see for all non-transparent parts of a building envelope thermal transmittance (U value) of less than 0.15 W / (m² K). When used under the floor slab, the material must bring more than excellent insulation properties.
The XPS insulation is made of the plastic polystyrene, which in a special production process - is first heated and then use a slot die, foamed - extrusion.In this way the material is a closed cell structure. It is therefore very stable under pressure and holds loads of up to 30 tons per square meter - more than enough for the load of a building. Moreover, XPS can not absorb water and is impervious to moisture. XPS is the strong foundation for heating costs
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
By Heather Scoffield, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The federal government is reviving an energy-efficiency program meant to encourage consumers and companies to cut their energy use.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is putting $78 million over two years into collecting and spreading information about buying more efficient vehicles, houses, buildings and appliances.
He says the program will assess existing technology and encourage higher energy standards, leading to an anticipated reduction in emissions of four megatonnes by 2016.
The goal is to push provinces to strengthen their building codes, and to provide consumers with detailed information that will allow them to compare energy-efficient products to more conventional products.
The money will also help beef up energy-efficiency measurements for appliances, and encourage better energy labelling and training for workers.
"These initiatives will help Canadians and Canadian businesses save money while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions," Oliver told reporters.
The funding only lasts two years because the government is facing budget constraints, Oliver said.
"We have to balance the environmental objectives with the fiscal situation."
Environmentalists welcomed the announcement, but said it was only a small fraction of what is needed to get Canadians to embrace a more energy-efficient lifestyle.
Tim Weis with the Pembina Institute said the government money will fund solid and useful information and set some higher standards, but it's a far cry from a co-ordinated national strategy with concrete targets to improve energy use.
"It's a foundation to build on," he said.
The program launched Wednesday is the latest version of the EcoEnergy efficiency initiative, a multibillion-dollar program that began in 2007 but expired last March.
In the last budget, the wildly popular home-retrofit side of the EcoEnergy program was extended for one year, with $400 million. At the same time, the government set aside an additional $86 million over two years to promote energy efficiency, but did not release details on how the money would be spent.
Wednesday's announcement explains the renewal of the smaller and less-known efficiency initiatives. Officials did not immediately respond to requests to explain why the amount of money had dropped to $78 million from $86 million.
Oliver stressed that the $78-million investment will create jobs, but added that he did not have a number for new positions.
Rather, officials explained that department would spend the money on research, analysis and gathering information which would encourage industry to invest in energy-efficient options for consumers — indirectly creating green jobs.
"This is about job creation and a clean energy future for Canadians," Oliver said.
Ottawa has committed to a 2020 target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels, mainly by regulating industrial production in lock-step with the United States.
Environment Canada has attributed much of the rise in emissions over the past decade to an increase in oil-and-gas production and a surge in vans, SUVs and trucks on the road.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Green Building Council for inclusion in the Green build 2011 Tours Program.
I am pleased to inform you that your Green Revelation proposal has been accepted by the US Green Building Council for inclusion in the Greenbuild 2011 Tours Program.
Your home will be featured with 2 other high performance residential infill homes. The tour description is below:
Building High Performance Infill Retrofit Homes
There are approximately 7,000,000 existing homes in Canada, many of which do not meet today’s building code standards for energy efficiency. As utility rates rise, there is a greater focus on sustainable renovations and remodelling of our existing houses to significantly reduce the country’s GHG emissions. This tour focuses on three designers and builders who have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability by renovating their own homes as a model for others. Visit two homes that use the Passive House concept and one targeting LEED Silver. See sustainable features such as grey water and rain water harvesting, a PAUL heat recovery system, and a green roof.
The half-day tour is scheduled for Friday, October 7 and participants will leave the Metro
Saturday, April 23, 2011
ROMA LUCIW - The Globe and Mail
We recently had dinner with good friends: four adults, three boys and a baby crammed around a dining room that in pre-children days had felt spacious but was now clearly cramped. Over pork chops and couscous, we mulled their housing dilemma.
Our friends bought their stylish but small two-bedroom home seven years ago. With two energetic, growing boys, the house is now too small. They adore their neighbourhood but prices have spiked dramatically and they cannot afford to upgrade to more spacious digs in their area, leaving them with two options. Option one is to sell and buy something bigger in another area. The second is to do a huge renovation, one that entails digging out their basement, adding a third storey and expanding their kitchen, which would then eat into the backyard.
The problem with option one is that housing prices pretty much everywhere have gone through the roof. Just last month, our friends lost out on a place that might have been their dream house – if it had not been located on a bustling main street. Had they bought it, however, they would have tacked an additional $500,000 onto their mortgage.
That experience left them thinking that perhaps the renovation is the way to go. Although it would let them stay in a neighbourhood they love, the price tag for their desired reno is around $300,000, a large amount of debt to take on for a home that will always have a small lot and compact feel to it. And with the housing market leveling off – if not perched on the edge of a drop – they are reluctant to pour money into a house that might not pay off down the road, should they decide to sell.
Reiner Hoyer, a Toronto-based renovation coach, says when you're deciding whether to renovate or move, there's more to consider than meets the eye. People often forget to take into account the transaction costs of buying or selling a house, for example. A combination of legal fees, real estate commissions and land transfer taxes can quickly translate into tends of thousands of dollars.
But homeowners also overlook many important costs when considering a renovation, Mr. Hoyer says. “Generally, you can take whatever number they assume it will cost and double that.”
To avoid walking into a financial disaster, Mr. Hoyer believes in putting all the reno costs on the table and coming up with a worst-case scenario. “Most people do the opposite,” he says. “They forget this and that and try to believe they can do it for half of what the job is going to cost.”
Instead of just going out and getting a quick estimate from a contractor, homeowners seriously contemplating a reno need to do a real cost analysis. “Soft costs,” such as an architect, a structural engineer, various surveys, variances and building permits, can leave people $10,000 to $20,000 in the hole, he says.
“Good planning is very important; it is not an optional thing,” he added, since a set plan will enable your contractor to give you an accurate estimate of what the job will cost.
“If people want to build a third storey, they need to investigate whether structurally their house can support it.”
Moving fees are another large cost that people should factor into the cost of the reno, Mr. Hoyer says. Although some couples decide to live through the dust and dirt, that decision almost always backfires because the job takes longer and in the end costs more.
Make sure to let your insurance company know that you are undertaking a major reno and/or moving out, he says. Although your monthly insurance bill might go up, you will need the coverage.
And when signing the contract, go over the fine details with your contractor and set up a payment schedule that is based on milestones, Mr. Hoyer says. Decide on a time – say five months, along with a grace period of two months – to get the job done, after which your contractor is responsible for paying your cost of living. Lastly, he added, make sure to hold back at least 10 per cent of the final bill for at least 45 days, which will protect you in case your contractor fails to pay his subcontractors.
My husband and I wrestled with the should-we-stay-or-should-we-sell debate when we were expecting our second child. For those of you struggling with that decision, this website has several helpful tools, including a remodeling vs. moving calculator. My husband and I shopped around, saw the inflated housing prices, and quickly realized that we love our street, our neighbours, our yard and our home. We bit the bullet and renovated. As a reno survivor, I can tell you that the experience is not one I want to repeat but we now have a gorgeous home that fits our family and, hopefully, we will never have to move again.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Energy consciousness is at an all-time high, and scary home energy bills are one reason why. The good news is that we now have the tools and materials to do much more than just complain about how much it costs to deflect winter’s cold, cruel blasts. Infrared thermography offers the eyes to see where energy losses are actually occurring on your home and where new windows, expanding foam, and advanced weather stripping will do the most good. Thermal imaging tools are coming down in price rapidly, even to the point where simple units are now affordable by any homeowner.
Thinking of buying a new house? Market-savvy builders are now using infrared images to prove efficiency claims by lifting them out of the realm of faith and making them plainly visible. Have you just moved into a resale home and find that peak heating bills are higher than the mortgage? Applying an infrared audit of the sort offered by more and more home inspectors eliminates the mystery of exactly where all your heating dollars go.
Understanding the Ins and Outs of Infrared Thermography
To understand how infrared thermography works, you’ve got to realize something about what we see with our eyes. What we detect as visible light is actually a small part of what scientists call the electromagnetic spectrum. Energy with short wavelengths are the kind of ultraviolet radiation that inflicts sunburns and fades drapes. Energy wavelengths that are longer than what we see heats food in microwave ovens and delivers radio signals to our cars. Nestled between what we see and the wavelengths of energy that swells a bag of microwave popcorn is the infrared spectrum. Although it’s invisible, infrared energy radiation is what thermographic cameras show on screen, highlighting areas in the exterior surfaces of your home that offer the greatest potential for energy improvement.
Winter is an excellent time to conduct a thermographic home audit because the differences in temperature indoors and outside are at their peak. The brighter the area of the thermographic image, the greater the amount of heat loss in that zone. Gradients of heat output are what a thermographic camera shows.
Windows, Walls, and Roofs: Infrared Detects Worry Spots Anywhere
The lighter of the two images here show a 20-year-old window from the outside during winter. The numbers on the image show the surface temperature in ºC at that spot. The fact that the glass window surface is so much warmer than the surrounding walls proves that significant heat is being lost from inside. By contrast, the darker image shows how the surface temperature of a high performance window is virtually the same as surrounding walls. Thermography is also used to detect waterlogged areas in flat roofs, both residential and commercial. Since these structures are rarely vented, leaks can cause wetting of internal insulation that doesn’t dry out quickly or at all. Infrared thermography shows these zones as hot spots on warm summer evenings as wet sections continue to give off heat after dry areas have cooled.
Infrared Thermographical Tools
The least expensive way to make thermography a part of your home improvement work is with one of the new, compact and inexpensive infrared thermometers. They allow pinpoint measurement of surface temperatures remotely, from as far as 40 feet away. They won’t give you a complete photo image like you see here, but they will let you accurately find hot and cold spots that need attention. I’ve used the DeWALT, Milwaukee ($170) and Ryobi($80) units in my work and they all perform very well.
While it may not be quite as useful as Superman’s X-ray vision, infrared thermography can let you see deficiencies that rob you of hard-earned cash while also taking an unnecessary toll on the environment. Shed light on the culprits, foil their hidden schemes, and we’re all better off for it.
Photos courtest of Reiner Hoyer, The Reno Coach
Thursday, March 3, 2011
HomeStars – News and Updates
Thursday, March 3, 2011
We’ve written about energy saving tips for your home before and we keep stressing about the growing importance of energy efficiency for both environmental and financial reasons. But many of the tips advise on how to retroactively update your home – but what about if you are starting from scratch?
Many people advocate that buying used instead of new (houses or other goods) is better for the environment because “it reduces the amount of new stuff that has to be made.” But with number of new homes being built, there is definitely no significant reduction in the near future. In addition to updating older homes, we need to look at creating more effective and efficient homes right from the start. Energy efficiency and sustainability is what passive house design is all about.
I first came across this topic when Reiner, The Reno Coach, posted about a conference he was attending in Toronto, which would train him to be an expert on passive house design.
What is passive house design?
Passive house design was developed by the the Passive House Institute in Germany. It includes standards and techniques that drastically improve the performance of a home thorough these features:
- superior insulation
- energy efficient windows, shade considerations
- air-tightness (no drafts or hot or cold spots)
- heat recovery ventilators (these eliminate the need for conventional heating systems)
- sustainable and regenerative hot water supply
- fixtures that are energy saving (lighting, appliances)
- solar and landscape considerations
Could you imagine a house with no furnace?
While there are clearly many aspects to this type of design, I think that the most unique is the lack of a traditional furnace. As Reiner explains, “The design philosophy behind the Passive House concept is simple: instead of designing a building, then sizing the required heating system, here the building shell is optimized until the conventional heating system is no longer required. The small amount of heating energy which is still needed in a Passive House can then be supplied via the ventilation air stream.”
Take a look at the images below. The graph on the left shows a comparison of energy efficiency for Canadian heating. The image on the right shows a thermogram of heat (can you tell which one is the passive house?)
Want to know more?
There are so many aspects to passive house design it’s too much to adequately cover in one blog post. We’ll be doing regular installments on specific aspects of passive house design so that we can provide you with detailed and accurate information. In the meantime, check out the Reno Coach’s blog, Passive House TO, and see what the process is like from beginning to end. His aim is to be the first passive house in Toronto….we can’t wait!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR)
PAUL Comfort Ventilation is a leader in the field of mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR). Established in 1994, PAUL has pioneered the development of highly efficient, very quiet, domestic heat recovery units, alongside applying the same standards to commercial sized units.
Combining their patented channel counter flow heater exchangers with the very latest in low energy dc silent fan technology means that PAUL units achieve the very highest standards. PAUL products have both SAP Appendix Q listing and Passive House Institute certification.
- Real energy savings
- Lower heating bills
- Constant fresh air
- Low pollen levels
- Reduced humidity
- Quieter living
- Cooling in summer
- Constant odour & dust mite removal
- No mildew or mould
- In ground loop for fresh air intake
The Heat Exchanger
The heart of every PAUL Comfort Ventilation system is the heat exchanger. This is where the heat from the outgoing air is transferred to the incoming air. This works both ways so if the outside temperature is higher than inside the exchanger helps to maintain a constant pleasant internal climate.
The unique patented PAUL counter flow heat exchanger design has proven itself to be one of the most efficient on the market. Combined with a surface area of 60m² in the family house size units provides exceptional heat recovery of up to 99% (thermos 200 dc 97- 99% at 200m³ /h).
Designed to be Inaudible
The high quality balanced fans and attention to detail make PAUL units the quietest on the market. There is no point in building a low energy house if people don't want to live in it. Experience has shown that when constant, even low noise levels prove to be disturbing. Combine PAUL quality with the very best ducting design drawing on years of experience from Germany, the PAUL suppliers are able to provide a service of the very highest standard.
Paul Comfort Ventilation uses high quality large surface area filters that ensure a clean air supply. The large surface area of the filters provides an extended service interval and reduces loss of flow. A properly tuned comfort ventilation system prevents CO2 build up with out the need to open windows. Removing the need to open windows has the added benefit of keeping the noise of contemporary life out side the home.
PAUL Comfort Ventilation units can be fitted in suspended ceilings, horizontally in boxing over kitchen cupboards, vertically in a larder unit, or a utility room or garage. They can supply ventilation demands from 30 to 6000m³/h. The compact units utilise air source heat pump technology to provide both heat and hot water along side the ventilation requirement.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Question #1: If I have a budget of $15,000 to spend on retrofitting a home to improve energy performance, what gives the biggest bang for the buck?
The energy performance gains of three different options were studied to find out which options gives the biggest bang for the buck:
OPTION 1 Increase efficiency: improve attic and under-floor insulation, thoroughly air-seal the enclosure, and upgrade lighting and appliances to ENERGY STAR-compliant models.
OPTION 2 Replace windows: replace all existing windows with R-5 windows. Two base case scenarios were examined, one with R-1 (single-pane) windows and the second with R-2 (double-pane) windows in the existing home.
OPTION 3 Install solar system: install a 2-kW photovoltaic array on the roof.
Result: R-5 windows are the most cost-effective energy-saving solution for residential home retrofit projects when replacing single-pane windows and are cost-competitive with other options even when replacing dual-pane windows.
According to Ann’s study, R-5-and-above windows represent a game-changing entry into the residential replacement window market and into the broader realm of energy efficiency retrofit options. While in the past, window replacement was not typically viewed as offering a good return on investment from an energy perspective (though often attractive for reasons of improved comfort), it should now be considered routinely for home energy retrofit projects.
Question #2: If I’m building a new home, which energy variables have the greatest influence on the overall energy performance of a new home?
Energy variables studied included building orientation, wall insulation, roof insulation, window area, window R-values, window solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment efficiency.
Result: Window R-value often has the greatest influence on energy performance compared to other common energy variables. High R-value windows (R-5 or greater) provide excellent energy savings.
In all but one scenario modeled, window R-value (the inverse of U-value) had the greatest influence range of the variables studied. High R-value windows are likely to provide excellent performance benefits in many projects, particularly those with a high window-to-floor area ratio.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Written by Edited by Tam I Berkovitz iPHM on 05 February 2011
EU backing for zero-energy buildings has given the German construction industry a boost. As materials become less expensive, the passive house, a German invention, is likely to become a more common sight.
The German government wants to reduce the energy demand for heating by 20 percent by 2020. From that year on, all new buildings will be required to be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, which means they use less than 15 kilowatt hours of heating per square meter per year. The average house being built today uses 4 times that amount.
“Of course there are going to be increasing numbers of passive houses,” said Angela Espenbergerof the International Passive House Association (iPHA) in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
She said passive houses are being developed all over the world, including countries where the materials and labor weren’t previously available.
“Companies are finally realizing that there is a real need for products that are passive house suitable. So we have more and more certified products, such as insulation and ventilation systems, that are compatible with passive houses,” Espenberger said.
She believes this boom is going to drive new developments, which will make the technology needed for the construction of passive houses more commercially competitive.
“It’s going to force people to develop more products, which is of course going to influence the economic side of passive houses, making them a lot more affordable.”
At the moment, a passive house costs up to 8 percent more to build than a conventional house.
Karsten Voss, a professor of building physics at the University of Wuppertal, said zero-energy houses will be more commercially attractive, if people change their mindset and start factoring in the long term savings on energy.
“The technology of today can reduce energy needs by 80 percent, compared to the average building. This also means it’s reducing CO2 emissions,” he said.
Considering that buildings account for about 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the passive housing movement could help shrink the housing sector’s carbon footprint.
The zero-energy housing boom has seen the development of innovations like high-tech vacuum insulation that is only 2 centimeters thick. This product is still at the prototype stage, but it may one day replace traditional insulation, which is about 30 centimeters thick.
Energy efficient windows, which are less expensive to maintain and replace, are also being developed. If the costs can be kept low, these may eventually become more commercially attractive than conventional windows.
Voss sees Germany as a market leader in low-energy housing. “In the last 20 years, Germany has come to the poll position in that sector, so ‘Made in Germany’ is a very good label for energy efficiency in buildings,” he said.
But Voss said that more needs to be done to improve the skills of construction workers.
“I think we still are in the situation where we have to better educate the contractors in energy efficient buildings, because it’s still a small sector,” he said.
Worldwide, only about 20,000 passive houses have been built. Most of those are in Germany, where passive houses were invented. In two short decades, the country has built 13,000 passive houses.
Oliver Jirka is an architect in Berlin who specializes in energy efficient buildings. His own home is a passive house, which he says is cheaper, quieter and more comfortable than a conventional house.
“Our electricity bills come to around 40 euros per month. A conventional house built this size might pay 150 euros per month,” he told Deutsche Welle.
The passive house experience
On a chilly winter’s day in Berlin, with temperatures pushing minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), Oliver Jirka’s house stays at a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius. But the house doesn’t use radiators. This cozy temperature is maintained by the walls of Jirka’s house, which are padded with 40 centimeters of newspaper. The windows are triple glazed and filled with argon gas, which helps limit heat loss.
As light spills through the tall windows, the argon inside them absorbs the sun’s radiation and stops heat from escaping. This is great in the winter and for those hot summer days, Jirka has planted trees to shade the house and stop it from overheating.
As light spills through the tall windows, the argon inside them absorbs the sun's radiation and stops heat from escaping. This is great in the winter and for those hot summer days, Jirka has planted trees to shade the house and stop it from overheating.
The thick walls and triple glazing also make Jirka's house extraordinarily sound proof. In the past, sealed solar-heated homes often had stagnant air and were susceptible to mold. But Jirka’s home has a built-in ventilation system. This means that the building remains airtight, so none of the heat is lost, but it still gets a good supply of fresh air.
"The fresh air passes a filter and we have very clean air. You have more fresh air than by window ventilation," Jirka said.
The filters keep out dust, pollen and other particles, which would otherwise come into the house if the windows were left open for ventilation.
A heat exchanger under the house draws in fresh air from outside. In the summer, warm air is cooled because the ground is colder than the outside atmosphere. In the winter, when the ground is warmer than the air temperature, drawing the air down and over the ground heats it up.
Zero-energy housing developers are now looking for ways to install technology, which will allow more homes like Jirka's to produce energy. Jirka's house does this with solar panels on the roof, which allow him to neutralize his energy consumption.
Author: Natalia Dannenberg
Editor: Saroja Coelho
Editor: Saroja Coelho