The District of Invermere is taking a leadership role in green construction by offering a $5,000 rebate to new homes that achieve an Energuide rating over 80, and a new home on 12th Avenue is the first to reap this benefit.
Meredith Hamstead, who was a partner in the green home project and owner of thinkBright Environmental innovations, said that in order to build a green home cost-effectively, the process must start from the beginning of the construction.
“Everybody involved in the construction needs to be aware that they’re building an air-tight home,” she said.
The builders, FRSP Holdings Ltd. and Norcon Developments, decided to stay with a simple, low-tech approach to accommodate a typical budget.
In the end, the house achieved an Energuide rating of 81, meaning it is a premium green-built home, for the cost of $130 per square foot.
Further rebates of $2,000 (from BC Hydro for achieving an Energuide 80+ rating) and $800 (from the district for meeting criteria for visitable residential accessibility, which includes lower light switches, higher electrical outlets, and a manoeuvrable bathroom, among other conditions) allowed the purchase of a special stove/range that properly accommodates people with wheelchairs and walkers as the single-family dwelling houses a secondary suite fully accessible for people of all ages with a wide range of physical disabilities.
Because of the rebates, not to mention the reduced energy consumption, “the payback period is both immediate and ongoing,” said Ms. Hamstead. “We’ve proven that you can build a premium home with no additional premium.”
The house is constructed mainly out of wood, stucco, and corrugated metal, and also exceeds the air barrier standards, which was achieved through the builders’ attention to detail and commitment to outcome. And while the “green” criteria doesn’t require water efficiency, the homeowner decided to install eco-friendly faucets, as well as efficient dishwashing and laundry machines.
Double-thick, super insulated walls, which reduce the need for heating and cooling, allowed the builders to install an extremely cost-effective heating system — a ductless mini source heat pump that was installed in lieu of a furnace, and is projected to reduce the home’s heating costs by over 30 per cent annually. The system looks similar to an external air conditioning unit, and is able to convert energy from the air outside, and convert it to whatever temperature is demanded inside.
Ms. Hamstead said the house would not have achieved an Energuide rating greater than 80 without the ductless mini source heat pump.
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