An energy-efficiency research project involving industry, UBC and Okanagan College broke ground today.
Known as the Wilden Living Lab, the project will see two homes constructed on separate building lots. The lots are valued at about $200,000 each and were provided by the Blenk Development Corporation.
One home will be built to current building code standards including the use of a natural gas furnace, standard plumbing fixtures and appliances, double pane windows, incandescent lighting, and insulation levels that include R-22 in the walls and R-40 in the ceilings.
The Home of Tomorrow will incorporate a number of additional features, including a geothermal heat pump, water-saving toilets and faucets, triple pane windows, photovoltaic solar panels, net metering, ICF wall construction, LED lighting, and insulation levels that include R-24 in the walls and R-70 in the ceiling.
“For our company, the Living Lab is a groundbreaking partnership that will greatly contribute to the future of home building,” says Wilden Director Karin Eger-Blenk. “As a company that has long invested in renewable energy, we’re very proud to work with our partners to give the next generation of engineers and tradespeople first-hand experience in sustainable homebuilding.”
In addition to the four original partners—the Blenk Development Corporation, AuthenTech Homes, Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan—FortisBC has now joined the research initiative. FortisBC will provide funding, assistance in selecting energy-efficient appliances and lighting, advanced metering for accurate and timely consumption monitoring and net metering to credit the homeowner for the electricity produced by the solar panels.
“FortisBC appreciates the leadership that UBC, Okanagan College and their industry partners have shown in this initiative,” says Danielle Wensink, director, conservation and energy management, FortisBC. “Utility costs are an important consideration for families; projects like this help move the market towards more energy-efficient homes which will help families reduce energy costs.”
The homes are being constructed by AuthenTech Homes and Residential Construction students from Okanagan College.
“Our company is excited to be involved in a project that will truly show the real life comparisons of some of the energy efficient technology that is available to today’s homebuyers,” says Scott Tyerman, president of AuthenTech Homes. “We’re not aware of any other project of this kind and we look forward to the results.”
Both the developer and builder feel it is critical to have student participation in construction, representing significant support to Okanagan College’s Residential Construction program.
“With a province-wide skills gap on the horizon, we deeply appreciate the way Wilden and AuthenTech Homes have stepped up in support of the next wave of tradespeople,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The Wilden Living Lab presents a tremendous opportunity for our students to receive hands-on training and work with local industry leaders.”
Once the homes are completed and sold, UBC researchers will use sensors built into the homes to monitor the energy use of both dwellings for a period of three years.
“Sustainable energy usage and homebuilding practices are important issues for our community,” says Deborah Buszard, deputy vice-chancellor and principal at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “UBC Okanagan is pleased to lend its research expertise to a project that will encourage sustainable development here at home and provide tools for others around the world to follow in our footsteps.”