A demonstration house in Canada shows new approaches to energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive construction.
Synopsis: This is a good primer on Canada’s Advanced House project, launched in the 1990s to produce energy efficient, environmentally green housing. The project is an outgrowth of the R-2000 Home Program to dramatically lower energy consumption over standard construction.
Canada has the highest energy use per capita of any country in the world. That’s not unexpected, given the country’s climate. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, for example said to have the coldest winters of any capital city outside of Siberia temperatures can drop as low as -48°F. But in summer, temperatures can soar: The highest recorded in this prairie city of 600,000 is 108°F. That kind of climate boosts both space-heating and air-conditioning costs.
During the oil embargo of the mid-1970’s, the Canadian government started the R-2000 Home Program. Houses built to R-2000 standards consumed half the energy of the typical houses being built at the time. The reduction was achieved by increasing insulation, reducing air leakage, improving window performance, using more efficient heating systems and installing a mechanical ventilation system, usually a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV).
But the R-2000 homes still used too much energy. So in 1991, Energy, Mines and Resources Canada started the Advanced House program and proposed building as many as 10 low-energy, environmentally “green” homes across the country to showcase cutting-edge and traditional technologies to chop energy bills to one-quarter of those attributed to a typical house built in 1975.
The program targeted not only space-heating and air-conditioning costs but all energy use, including embodied energy, the amount of energy it takes to produce, manufacture, distribute, install, operate and, eventually, dispose of everything that goes into a house.
The Advanced House had to be comfortable and convenient to live in, not forcing major changes in lifestyle. And its design had to have market appeal. There’s little…