Capital Home Energy https://capitalhomeenergy.com BC Energy Advisor Tue, 12 Oct 2021 17:12:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.5 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/cropped-71755053_395580874666149_8588757929874685952_n-1-32x32.jpg Capital Home Energy https://capitalhomeenergy.com 32 32 Monthly Featured Project | Call for Entries for 2022 Georgie Awards | Indigenous Community New Home Program https://capitalhomeenergy.com/newsletters/monthly-featured-project-call-for-entries-for-2022-georgie-awards-indigenous-community-new-home-program/ Sat, 09 Oct 2021 03:35:00 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=9791







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FEATURED PROJECT

High Performance Home in in Whistler

Check out this impressive high performance home under construction in Whistler by RDC Fine Homes .  This beautiful and complex build home is aiming for Step Code 4 compliance, and is part of the Holmes Approved Holmes program of quality assurance.   The house was designed by Stark Architecture, and is built into the side of a mountain. 
 
We just recently completed the Mid Construction air leakage testing, and the house scored very well at 0.58 ACH @ 50Pa.
 
Capital Home Energy also provides the Holmes Approved Holmes inspections throughout the construction process.  The program is designed to give the Homeowners 3rd party quality assurance above and beyond that of the builder.

  • Foundation walls: ICF
  • Main walls: Mixture of ICF and exterior 4” exterior rigid insulation + 2×6  R-30 2lb spray foam
  • Roof: Exterior rigid R-36 + TJI R-18 2lb spray foam
  • Windows – High Performance double and Triple glazed (USI 0.85 to 1.42)
  • Air Tightness 0.57 ACH (air changes per hour- that’s very tight!)
  • Ventilation – Lifebreath HRV +70% Sensible recovery efficiency
  • Heating system: Dettson condensing gas high efficient furnace
  • Air tightness: AeroBarrier by AirTight Solutions
 

INDUSTRY NEWS

FortisBC: Indigenous Communities New Home Program









FortisBC is expanding the New Home Program to qualifying applicants in First Nation communities as of July 28th!

These applicants will be eligible for New Home Program rebates that are approximately 30% higher than the current rebates. Also, the EA and builder incentives associated with Indigenous New Home applications will be $400 and $1600 respectively, to help cover some of the additional travel costs associated with Indigenous applications.

To be eligible for these higher rebates, applicants must be a First Nation Band under the Indian Act and the residential housing must be primarily for low-income households.

For more information on this program, please contact conservationassistance@fortisbc.com

INDUSTRY NEWS

REMINDER: Call of Entries for 2022 Georgie Awards Still Open



Call for entries for the 2022 Georgie Awards is still open!

The 2022 Call for Entries for the Georgie Awards is still open

Projects and products built, renovated, developed, created and/or marketed for the period of January 1, 2020 – November 1, 2021 are eligible for the 2022 Georgie Awards. 

The online entry form closes at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 2021. All completed online entry forms must be submitted by this time. There will be no extensions.

For more information on participating in the 2021 Georgie Awards, click here

UPCOMING EVENT

CHBA: Net Zero Home Leadership Summit
 

 
When: Monday, November 22nd to Thursday, November 25th 10:00 am – 1:30 pm PDT
 
Location: Event is held virtually

 
                                                        
 

What you will learn
The 2021 Net Zero Leadership Summit is a live, interactive online event where participants will gain insight and explore the innovative, industry-leading efforts in Net Zero for both new homes and renovations. You’ll be part of the dialogue – interacting and providing input during each session to work though the opportunities and challenges. Focused on valuable content and participant engagement, the Summit will convene leaders in the industry: builders, renovators, energy advisors, product manufacturers, service providers, utilities, developers, government, and academia from across Canada.
 

REGISTER NOW

TOP 4 ACH OF THE MONTH

Integra Homes
New 3,100 ft² house
Courtenay
Final : 0.54 ACH

RDC Fine Homes
New 4,000 ft² home
Whistler
Mid Construction: 0.58 ACH

Custom Coastal Homes
New 2,100 ft² home
Bowen Island
Mid Construction:  0.63 ACH

Pheasant Hill Homes 
New 2,200 ft² home
Gabriola
Mid Construction  0.68 ACH 

DEFINITION OF THE MONTH

Nominal vs Effective R-Value

Nominal R-Value is the rated insulation value that is provided by the manufacturer, for the individual product.

Effective R-value measures the final thermal resistance of an assembly, taking into account all of the different components of the assembly including framing, drywall, insulation, exterior sheathing, etc.

Please remember to book your mid construction and final tests at least two weeks in advance!

Friendly reminder to all builders needing to book their mid construction and final blower door tests. Please give us a call two weeks in advance to ensure we can have you on the schedule and to ensure a quicker turnaround time for your reports! We recommend contacting us for your mid construction test when insulation has started.

Any Questions? 

For information on the BC Energy Step Code, EnerGuide ratings, Blower Door Airtightness tests, Thermal Imaging, BuiltGreen, Net Zero Homes contact Vanessa at manager@capitalhomeenergy.com 

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Backdrafting In Our Homes https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/backdrafting-in-our-homes/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/backdrafting-in-our-homes/#respond Thu, 25 Feb 2021 00:59:16 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=8986

What is backdrafting?

Backdrafting is the reverse and unwanted flow of exhaust gases from fuel-fired appliances back into a home.

Fuel-fired appliances use the oxygen present in air for the combustion process, and also use air to dilute toxic gases in the exhaust vent pipe or chimney. Combustion and dilution air can be supplied directly to the appliance (direct-vent) or can be pulled from inside the home (natural vent). The image below illustrates the mechanisms of a naturally vented gas furnace.

In some circumstances, when the house is under negative pressure, air will try to make its way into the home by any means necessary. If fuel-fired appliances are not direct-vented, air might backdraft from the chimney or exhaust pipe causing combustion gases to spill into the house. (See image below).

Sometimes, backdrafting is obvious. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you may occasionally see smoke escaping into the room for example. Or if you have a dark stain on the wall above your fireplace, this could indicate combustion product spillage into the room.

In other cases, spillage may not be so evident, in part because combustion gases, especially from natural gas and propane, are hard to detect. They are invisible and odourless. In addition, the space heating equipment and water heater are usually located away from the main living areas of the home and might not be visited often.

The causes of backdrafting

As we build more airtight homes, less natural air flows through the holes, cracks, and leaky areas through the building envelope to our living spaces (this is a good thing! see our blog post about airtightness here). However, the problem of backdrafting may occur when air is pulled out of the home via kitchen & bathroom exhaust fans or other exhaust devices like clothes dryers. The pressure inside the home then drops which may lead to combustion spillage or backdrafting.

Backdraft prevention

When building a new home, the use of direct-vented appliances is highly recommended (and even required by Building Codes in some areas) in order to separate the combustion process from wanted or unwanted air flows and depressurization issues in the home. Likewise, the proper installation and sizing of ventilation systems is crucial. It should be noted that a well-balanced ventilation system should not be mistaken for make-up air or combustion air. Make-up air may be required for exhaust appliances that induce negative pressures in the home.

When renovating an older drafty home, the unintended consequence could be introducing the risk of backdrafting the fuel-fired appliances. Something as simple as a new kitchen range hood fan can cause negative pressure and induce combustion spillage. Make sure to perform an exhaust devices depressurization testThis test will check whether make-up air is necessary to equalize pressure in the home and avoid backdrafting. Capital Home Energy has qualified Energy Advisors who can perform an exhaust device depressurization tests and speak with you about the causes and effects of backdrafting.

Remember, combustion spillage or backdrafting is a serious safety concern.  It is extremely important to install Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors as well as smoke detector on every floor in your home (check with local building codes on the requirements and where to locate CO and smoke detectors).

To remediate a potential combustion spillage problems, talk to TECA qualified ventilation contractor in your area.

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Air Barrier vs Vapour Barrier https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/air-barrier-vs-vapour-barrier/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/air-barrier-vs-vapour-barrier/#respond Sat, 20 Feb 2021 00:45:24 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=8701

The difference between air barrier and vapour barrier systems is often misunderstood.  These are two distinct components of a building’s assembly, and both have a different purpose. The function of an air barrier is to stop air leakage between a conditioned space and an unconditioned space, while the vapour barrier prevents the diffusion of vapour through an assembly. The National Building Code of Canada specifies that the principle air barrier material may have a maximum air permeance of 0.02L/s·m2 (liters per second per square meter) @ 75 Pa. The BC Building Code defines the acceptable materials suitable for a vapour barrier as a material with a vapour permeance of <60ng/Pa·s·m2 (<1.0 US perm).

We typically see polyethylene (poly) used as both the air and vapour barrier. However, we’re quickly leaving those days behind as Energy Codes continue to get more strict on airtightness. Builders are also using alternative, more advanced air and vapour barrier strategies. The air barrier must be continuous and sealed to cover the entire building enclosure. According to the Canadian Home Builders Association’s Builder Manual:  

“The vapour barrier however needs only to be continuous, but the joints and penetrations do not need to be sealed. The vapour barrier must cover as much area as possible.”  

In our cold, Canadian climate, the vapour barrier must be installed on the warm side of the assembly. This will help to prevent condensation from forming. The air barrier, on the other hand, can be installed anywhere in the assembly. Specific tables can be found in the building code. These define where the vapour barrier should be located.

“…at a location where the ratio between the total thermal resistance of all materials outboard of its innermost impermeable surface and the total thermal resistance of all materials inboard of that surface is not less than that required by table 9.25.5.2.”

How does water vapour (moisture) travel?

Water vapour is driven through the building envelope by air movement. This is controlled by the air barrier system. Moisture movement can be further prevented via vapour diffusion, which is controlled by the vapour barrier.

Why is airtightness so important?

Air leakage through a 2x2cm hole in 1m x 1m sheet of drywall will result in the accumulation of 30 litres of water over the course of one heating season. Vapour diffusion through the same sheet of drywall with no hole will result in the collection of only 0.3 litres of water over the course of the heating season. This is why air-sealing our homes is critical in the mitigation of moisture-related issues, especially in Canada’s colder climates.  Building airtight is also the most cost-effective way of saving energy as it minimizes heat loss due to air transmission.

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Building Airtightness Targets and Standards https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/building-airtightness-targets-and-standards/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/building-airtightness-targets-and-standards/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2021 03:53:50 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=8017

We can’t stress enough the importance of airtightness. Durabilitycomfortenergy efficiency, and healthy homes all relate back to airtightness. If you haven’t read our blog post about airtightness, see HERE.

Airtightness requirements in building codes and energy performance standards are becoming increasingly stringent. Recent codes and standards have now begun to include targets for whole-building airtightness as a way of achieving consistently higher levels of performance.

However, there is confusion in the industry with regards to testing standards, as different building types require unique testing targets and standards (methods to conduct and capture data for air tightness testing). Codes and standards typically specify airtightness performance targets using either of two metrics: Air Changes per Hour (ACH) or Normalized Air Leakage Rate (in L/S per m2 of building enclosure area). Both metrics are reported at a specific pressure difference, usually 50 or 75 Pascals (Pa).

The below table summarizes maximum air leakage rates and testing standards across British Columbia for different Building types, Code requirements, Home Labeling, or Certification programs.

Click HERE to read the full bulletin from BC Housing “Building Airtightness Targets in Code and Standards Across BC: Appendix A“

At Capital Home Energy we specialize in blower door testing.   Contact us for more info.

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ABS vs PVC piping https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/abs-vs-pvc-piping/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/abs-vs-pvc-piping/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2021 03:50:45 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=8013

What’s the difference and which one should I use?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the white, black, and grey plastic pipes running through the walls and floors and around the perimeter of your home? Unless you’re a plumber by trade, probably not. But in case you’re curious, here’s a brief rundown of the difference in plastic piping.

Pipe colour is actually used to distinguish the material of the pipe. PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) is white, while ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is usually black or grey.

ABS piping is typically stronger than PVC and is more resistant to thermal shock from extreme cold, but it may warp if left exposed to direct sunlight. This makes ABS well-suited for underground pipe applications. Advantages of PVC are that it is less affected by exposure to sunlight and muffles sound better than ABS. The two types of pipe are comparable in price.

Lengths of ABS pipe can be connected using one cementing compound, whereas PVC requires a two-stage connecting process using a primer and then a cementing compound. So, if you are connecting many lengths of pipe, you may prefer to use ABS to minimize the labour required.

However, the decision for which type of pipe to use for a given application is often dictated by the local building code, so you may not need to weigh out the pros and cons anyway.

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What’s all the fuss about airtightness? https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/whats-all-the-fuss-about-airtightness/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/energy-efficiency/whats-all-the-fuss-about-airtightness/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2021 03:41:58 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=8005

If you’ve been paying attention to the ever-evolving home building requirements throughout BC, you may have noticed that municipalities are asking more and more from their builders to achieve high levels of airtightness. Most people in the industry view this as a positive development that will expand the knowledge base and improve the quality of work delivered across the industry, but there are still stakeholders who don’t fully appreciate why there is so much emphasis on achieving sufficiently high levels of airtightness in buildings. There are a many reasons why it is important to build airtight, and in this article, we will briefly describe three of them.

 

Durability – Moisture in wall cavities

Air leakage through the building enclosure can lead to significant amounts of moisture transported into wall cavities, which can lead to mould growth and decay of building components. Air leakage typically contributes to moisture issues in roof and wall assemblies when warm moist interior air condenses onto cold surfaces within the building envelope assemblies (exterior walls, attic ceilings, roofs, exposed floors, foundation walls, etc.)

The mechanisms by which condensation forms within envelope assemblies often depends on where the dew point is located, but also where the primary air barrier is placed within the assembly (i.e. whether the air barrier is located towards the interior or exterior to the structure). Two examples of how this can occur are described below.

For interior air barrier systems, such as the interior sealed polyethylene approach, warm moist interior air enters the wall cavity through detail interfaces, punctures, tears, and other possible deficiencies in the air barrier. When this air comes in contact with a cold surface such as plywood sheathing that is not insulated from the exterior, the air cools below its dew point temperature and the water vapour within the air condenses to water droplets that deposit within the assembly.

In exterior air barrier systems, such as the sealed sheathing wrap approach, deficiencies in the air barrier can permit cold exterior air to enter the wall cavity and cool down components in the assembly near the point of cold air entry. When warm, moist, interior air comes in contact with these cooled surfaces, this air can cool below its dew point temperature and will deposit liquid water within the wall cavity.

In a cold wet climate such as that in the Pacific Northwest, moisture caused by air leakage can accumulate in building envelope assemblies from fall until spring with little to no opportunity to dry, leading to mould growth and decay in materials susceptible to moisture damage. The amount of moisture that can be transported through air leakage is surprisingly large when compared to moisture transported by vapor diffusion: air movement (air leakage) accounts for 98% of all vapour movement in wall cavities[1].

 

 

Wasted Energy

Energy Advisors obsess over airtightness because we know that planning for and paying careful attention to airtightness during construction of a new building is the simplest, most cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption in your home. Why spend thousands of extra dollars to oversize your HVAC equipment and then continue spending hundreds and thousands of your hard earned dollars every year to heat outdoor air when you can just do a good job of air sealing in the first place?

A common metric for measuring airtightness is air changes per hour (ACH). Older homes built before the 1970’s will typically have air leakage rates of 8-12 ACH­­. For comparison, the airtightness requirement for new construction of Part 9 buildings in BC’s Energy Step Code is 3 ACH or less for Step 2 and less than 1 ACH for Step 5. As shown in BC Housing’s Illustrated Guide Achieving Airtight Buildings, an example wood frame multi-unit residential building in Southwest B.C. with an airtightness score at 5 ACH will have approximately 2.1 times greater heating energy demand than the same building with 1 ACH.

Not only does air leakage take money out of the pockets of home owners, it exacerbates our reliance on fossil fuels for heating our homes and emits needless greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute climate change, ocean acidification, and a number of other environmental impact categories.

Make sure when shopping around for a builder you ask them what their most recent ACH result was. Or what their air barrier strategy is.  If they don’t know, it might be wise to look elsewhere.

Occupant comfort

Have you ever been in an old building on a cold, blustery day and heard a gust of wind outside and literally felt the wind’s chill coming through the building? You don’t need to quantify the heat transferred through the wall or the amount of moisture transported into the wall cavity from this event to empathize with a homeowner grappling to understand why they have to put up with this discomfort just because the homebuilder didn’t pay close enough attention to detail. Homeowners and renters spend so much of their hard-earned income on their home and we as building professionals, owe it to them to ensure they get a quality product and that they are comfortable in their homes.

Still think that BC municipalities are asking too much of their builders in adhering to increasingly stringent airtightness requirements? Check out Natural Resources Canada’s publication Keeping the Heat In and BC Housing’s Illustrated Guide Achieving Airtight Buildings for more information about airtightness in buildings and to see how simple it can be to achieve high airtightness results in new construction with just a little bit of planning ahead.

It should be noted that any conversation about tightness should mention the importance of ventilation as the two go hand in hand.  We’ll talk about ventilation in an upcoming post…… stay tuned.

[1]“Moisture Control” retrieved from ://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/moisture-control

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Indoor Air Quality: What are we breathing in? https://capitalhomeenergy.com/in-the-news/what-are-we-breathing-in/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/in-the-news/what-are-we-breathing-in/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2021 03:37:14 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=8002

According to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, an average adult breathes in around 15,000 litres of air every day[1]. Statistically, people spend 90% of their time indoors[2].  The majority of that time is spent at home, therefore it is extremely important that our homes provide a healthy living environment.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within buildings and structures relating to the health and comfort of their occupants and is influenced by the interaction of many variables and processes. Some of those variables are external to the building, while others are controlled/determined by the architect, builder, and occupants.

Indoor Air Quality  is a complex subject to discuss as  we are still learning the long term effects on human health from different materials, off gassing,  high humidity levels, and soil gases in our homes.

What we can be sure of is: indoor air quality is an important design consideration when building or renovating a home. Unfortunately, IAQ is often overlooked.

What are the factors that affect indoor air quality?
  • Relative humidity

Relative Humidity is one important factor that affects comfort and health. Air that is too dry can result in chapped skin, bleeding noses and respiratory problems for some people. Air that is too humid can cause mould growth. Health Canada recommends that a home’s relative humidity be kept between 30-55 percent (depending on your climate zone) as shown on the graph below.

  • Airborne particulate matter

Airborne particulates vary in size from visible dust to nanoparticles and can penetrate deep into the lungs. Small particles tend to agglomerate to larger particles. Larger particles will settle rapidly and deposit on surfaces like carpets, flooring and furniture. Particles are also excellent sorbents and thus carriers for Semi Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOC).

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

VOCs are emitted from materials, cleaning and consumer goods and have a major effect on air quality. Some VOCs can be clearly detected by their odours but others are non-odorous at “normal” indoor concentrations. In other words, the absence of odours doesn’t mean the absence of potential harmful contaminants! Most common VOCs found in homes:

  • Benzene: paint glue, carpeting and gasoline combustion
  • Butanal: emissions from barbecues, burning candles, stoves and cigarettes
  • Ethanol: glass cleaners, dishwasher detergents and laundry detergents
  • Formaldehyde: floor lacquers, particle boards and certain molded plastics
  • Mould

Moulds are microscopic fungi. They grow on organic materials and can proliferate forming spores. Mould needs oxygen, water, organic nutrients and a suitable temperature (between 0°C and 38°C) to grow. When mould grows on building materials, the resulting spores may become airborne and trigger various adverse health effects. Mould can grow on nearly all organic materials, like paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products. Paint, wallpaper, some insulation materials, dry wall, carpet, fabric and dust can also support mould growth.

  • Combustion gases

When there is a negative pressure inside a house, naturally vented appliances such as fuel-fired furnaces, wood burning fireplaces, and natural aspirating domestic hot water tanks can draw combustion gases into the living spaces. The source of combustion air should be properly sized and located following building code compliance.

  • Radon

Radon is an odourless, colourless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally when the uranium in soil and rocks break down. Outdoors, radon is diluted in the air and is not a concern. However, radon can move through small spaces under a house and seep into enclosed spaces, like basements, and can sometimes accumulate to relatively high levels and become hazardous for health; radon is the leading environmental cause of lung cancer[3]. See more information about radon on the Radonaware website. For code changes to the 2018 BC Building Code regarding radon, click here.

How to design for good air quality?

Designing for good indoor air quality involves all members of the designing and building team to work collaboratively and to maintain their focus on the goal of achieving good indoor air quality. The strategies for good indoor air quality and energy efficiency are complementary; both require a well-sealed  building envelope and controlled ventilation.

  • The building site

The building site determines the ambient air quality. Knowing that we can’t always choose the site location, it is important for designers and builders to incorporate appropriate measures to eliminate potential problems ( ie radon and other soil gases).

  • Overall Architectural design

Making sure there is adequate room for ventilation systems such as an HRV (heat recovery ventilation) and paying attention to home owners’ hobbies and activities is important. For example: Adding extra ventilation for fry kitchens, work shops, and art studios is crucial for healthy IAQ.

  • Airtight building envelope

Constructing a durable building envelope that is airtight will prevent deterioration and protect assemblies from moisture issues. This will help reduce the possibility of rot and mould growth. It will also ensure outdoor air does not sneak into the house and will allow homeowners to control the fresh air intake through a well designed balanced and properly sized ventilation system.  This has been especially relevant in the past few summers in British Columbia, and other parts of Canada, where smoke from forest fires were damaging buildings and homes. See our post on smoke and air tightness here.

  • Ventilation and Climate control

Ventilation and air filtration systems are necessary to minimize problems related to humidity, building pressure, particulate matter, and combustion gases. High-humidity rooms like kitchens and bathrooms should have exhaust fans and ventilation filters should be cleaned/changed frequently.

  • Materials selection

Material and product selection is crucial for minimizing the concentration of chemical contaminants in our homes.  There are many options for choosing low or zero VOC materials for example: low-formaldehyde or sealed wood products for cabinetry, zero VOC paints, green rated carpets (such as Green Label Plus). Other options to consider would be limiting the use of carpeting and synthetics like vinyl wall coverings and plastic moldings, using low-emission duct sealants, tapes, and caulking, and using ceramic tiles or pre-finished hardwood flooring.

  • Construction process and occupancy

VOC emissions from building materials, furniture, and cabinetry may sometimes last for the lifetime of the home. Providing increased house ventilation during and after the installation of high-emitting materials such as caulking, coatings and carpet will improve the air quality as well as actively ventilating at the beginning of the occupancy if the homeowners move in quickly after construction.   We can all relate to the “new car” smell.

How to improve indoor air quality?

The below image from Heath Canada gives homeowners recommendations on ways to maintain and/or improve the indoor air quality of their home.

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BC Energy Step Code – Are You Ready? https://capitalhomeenergy.com/step-code/bc-energy-step-code-are-you-ready/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/step-code/bc-energy-step-code-are-you-ready/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2021 03:34:28 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=7998

Climate adaptation is one of the major challenges of our time. Now more than ever governments at the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal levels are realizing the effects of Man-made climate change.  Today is the time to find solutions for a more sustainable future. The Province of British Columbia has a strategy to transition to Net-Zero energy ready buildings by 2032. How is it going to happen ….. ?

One step at a time.

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

 

The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary Provincial standard for new builds that was introduced in December of 2017. The new BC Energy Step Code is designed to increase energy efficiency in new home construction across the housing sector.  Another main objective of the Step Code, is to help harmonize local building codes across the Province. This will help eliminate red tape and confusion for stake holders such as Builders, Developers, and Home Owners, who build in multiple jurisdictions.   It provides a series of measurable, performance-based energy-efficiency requirements that go above and beyond the Prescriptive path of the BC building Code.

The standard consists of a series of steps (1 to 5) that local governments may use to incentivize or require a level of energy efficiency in New construction. Builders can also voluntarily choose to build to higher Step Code levels.  Rebates are available from FortisBC for reaching the Step Code targets.

How does it work?

The BC Energy Step Code is a new performance-based compliance approach. It gives the builders flexibility to achieve the required metrics with different configurations of envelope details, insulation levels, increased performance from windows and doors, and HVAC systems. Unlike the old prescriptive path approach the goal is to exceed code minimum and build energy efficient homes that perform well as a system.

Which municipalities have adopted the BC Energy Step Code?

All information below is regarding Part 9 residential buildings: Single family homes, coach houses, smaller townhouses (under 6,000 sq.ft) as of October 15th, 2018 for the Lower Mainland jurisdictions.

 

For Implementation updates, click here.

An important element of the Energy Step Code is that the final “as-built” home needs to reach the target set at the design stage. We are Energy experts and will assist throughout building process to safeguard there are no surprises at the end of the project.

BC Energy Step Code Rebate for new builds

The Province along with FortisBC have introduced New Home Rebates that relate to the Step Code.

Our goal is to help strengthen the building industry, and the BC Energy Step Code is a great way to guarantee that success. Together let’s build healthy durable homes, that last generations.  Why not Add Capital to your Home!

Feel free to contact us for more information at info@capitalhomeenergy.com or 604-562-0387

For more information and resources for the Energy Step Code, you can visit their website here.

What role does the Energy Advisor play?

The Energy Advisor assists builders and homeowners along all stages of the building process. At Capital Home Energy, we provide pre-permit Energy Modeling which helps identify strategies to optimize the home’s energy usage, air tightness, and overall thermal comfort of the house.

We also provide Blower Door air tightness tests at key stages of the construction. The mid-construction blower door test, or pre-drywall test, is the key to success when building any airtight home. It offers an opportunity for the builders to improve an already air tight design and address any deficiencies in the air barrier.

The Final Evaluation ties the whole process together. We measure the home’s final ACH (ACH = air changes per hour) and energy consumption and issue an overall EnerGuide Rating score. This rating measures a home’s overall annual energy consumption and is used across Canada to compare a home’s performance.

The final air tightness score will highlight how air tight a home is. A typical new construction in the City of Vancouver achieves 3.5 ACH, while the most air tight designs often score lower than 1 ACH. The lowest score we’ve seen is 0.24 ACH, for a Passive House design.

Contact us to start on your next Airtight project.

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Want to Keep Toxic Smoke Out of Your Home? Here is How We Can Help https://capitalhomeenergy.com/help/smoke-out-of-your-home/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/help/smoke-out-of-your-home/#respond Wed, 03 Feb 2021 23:40:58 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=7923

Hard not to notice the thick smoke that has choked our sky for the past weeks. An Air Quality Advisory has been issued for most of BC including Metro Vancouver, due to concentrations of fine particulate matter. All those small floating particles are harmful to our lungs and hearts. Chronic exposure to those particles year-in and year-out can lead to long-term health issues. Authorities recommend to stay indoor and to limit outdoor recreation time. But, are we really safer indoors? Well, it depends on the airtightness of the building and the quality of the ventilation system used.

What is Airtightness?

An airtight house is one that has been so carefully built that no (or very little) air leaks in and out. Air leakage occurs due to deficiencies in the homes air barrier. There are many factors which can cause those breaches such as poor preliminary build designpoor craftsmanship, or low qualityimproper materials. Extremely airtight houses provide a healthier indoor environment and comfort. Heat losses are reduced but most importantly (especially during wildfire season), outdoor contaminants like smoke particles, stay out of the house! The Airtightness of a house can be measured in *ACH at a certain pressure. (ACH = Air Changes per Hour). This is a measure of how many times the entire volume of air in the home gets exchanged in one hour, when we depressurize the house.  This simulates a 30-40km/h wind on all sides of the home.  The lower the ACH the better.

(*ACH @ 50Pa is the metric the industry uses measure the air tightness in residential construction)

How a good ventilation system will help

It is crucial to opt in for a good ventilation system in order to supply the house with adequate fresh air. We strongly recommend an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). The HRV is a balanced ventilation system which exhausts warm stale air, while also providing fresh air to the home.  The heat from the stale outgoing air is used to warm up the fresh air coming from outside, hence the name “heat recovery ventilator”.  Of course, the fresh air entering the home is filtered and using the correct filter is important.  Air filters are rated in MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). Higher MERV ratings capture more than 90% of the large particles and even the smallest particles (<0.3 microns) from the incoming air and contribute to a healthier indoor air quality. Proper duct design and equipment installation is extremely important when installing an HRV. Make sure to hire a TECA qualified ventilation contractor, when building your home.

How to build Airtight?

It is important to think about airtightness at the design stage alongside your air barrier strategy. For example, square houses have less corners and are easier to detail for a continuous air barrier. Choosing high quality windows and a proper air barrier is crucial. The choice between interior and exterior air barriers can also greatly affect the design down the road. A few considerations during your design include:

  1. At the building stage, nails and screws leave puncture holes all around the house. Those are negligible compared to openings needed for pipes, ducting, electrical conduits and cables. All of those cavities have an impact on the global airtightness of the house and have to be properly sealed. A site supervisor should also make sure all contractors keep airtightness goals in mind when performing their work.
  2. Before the drywall is installed, testing the house is essential. A Blower Door test measures the ACH, but most importantly it identifies and targets any deficiencies in the air barrier. You can walk around the house during the test and see where the drafts are coming in! We like to use an Infrared Camera or smoke puffer to help identify air leakage issues.
  3. Air tightness is not only about reducing the amount of unfiltered air in a home, but also about reducing condensation and moisture problems in the home. A properly built air tight house, with sufficient ventilation, will have a longer lifespan. Air tightness leads to a more comfortable, durable, healthy home.

What role does the Energy Advisor play?

The Energy Advisor assists builders and homeowners along all stages of the building process. At Capital Home Energy, we provide pre-permit Energy Modeling which helps identify strategies to optimize the home’s energy usage, air tightness, and overall thermal comfort of the house.

We also provide Blower Door air tightness tests at key stages of the construction. The mid-construction blower door test, or pre-drywall test, is the key to success when building any airtight home. It offers an opportunity for the builders to improve an already air tight design and address any deficiencies in the air barrier.

The Final Evaluation ties the whole process together. We measure the home’s final ACH (ACH = air changes per hour) and energy consumption and issue an overall EnerGuide Rating score. This rating measures a home’s overall annual energy consumption and is used across Canada to compare a home’s performance.

The final air tightness score will highlight how air tight a home is. A typical new construction in the City of Vancouver achieves 3.5 ACH, while the most air tight designs often score lower than 1 ACH. The lowest score we’ve seen is 0.24 ACH, for a Passive House design.

Contact us to start on your next Airtight project.

Did you like this article? Sign-up for our monthly newsletter to receive updates on BC’s Energy requirements, resources, links to recent blog articles, upcoming events and courses. Sign-up here.

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Update to Vancouver Building Bylaw 2018 – March 1st, 2018 updates https://capitalhomeenergy.com/bylaw/update-to-vancouver-building-bylaw-2018-march-1st-2018-updates/ https://capitalhomeenergy.com/bylaw/update-to-vancouver-building-bylaw-2018-march-1st-2018-updates/#respond Wed, 03 Feb 2021 23:29:02 +0000 https://capitalhomeenergy.com/?p=7916

Today the City of Vancouver has introduced new updates to the Vancouver Building Bylaw 2018  (VBBL).

Since 2014, only 1&2 Family residential housing were effected by the VBBL. Now, in the New Vancouver Building Bylaw 2018, all low-rise (less than 4 Storey) MURBs (Multi Residential Buildings) will require air tightness testing, EnerGuide Ratings, and Effective R-22 Walls. This will also impact 4-6 Storey Residential buildings, except they will not require an  EnerGuide Rating.

 

Update to Vancouver Building Bylaw 2018 – March 1st, 2018 updates

Here are some other highlights of the Vancouver Building Bylaw update:

  1. Large Homes over 325 m² (3500 ft²) will require a GHG Calculator  (Green house gas)
  2. 1&2 Family  will now require Effective R values for all assemblies
  3. All residential townhomes, 6 stories or less will require effective R values for all assemblies
  4. New pre-permit and pre-drywall checklists.

These new Vancouver Building Bylaw 2018 updates will impact all permits starting on March 1st 2018. The updates align with the City of Vancouver’s 2020 Cleanest City targets.

The Greenest City Action Plan is divided into 10 goal areas addressing three overarching areas of focus:

  • Zero Carbon
  • Zero Waste
  • Healthy Ecosystems
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