As laboratories go, the comfy, newly-built Wilden Living Lab is already a winner.
The Wilden Living Lab, a side-by-side comparison of two purpose-built homes, opened last week in Wilden’s Upper Canyon neighbourhood. The two 2,700 sq. ft. ranchers are the subject of a real-world study on sustainable homebuilding. Over the next three years, UBC researchers will compare the energy usage of the identical structures that have been built with different energy-efficient technologies.
“These two homes represent a milestone accomplishment in a long and proud history of Okanagan College’s trades programs supporting our communities,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “What is most striking about the project is the unique collaboration between the partners. I’m looking forward to watching the project develop as UBC continues to conduct research on the efficiencies of these two homes.”
Blenk Development President and CEO Russ Foster told a gathered audience at the official opening last week how the technology in the two homes is different: from triple-paned windows, dual zone heating, heat-recovery ventilation, to energy-efficient appliances right down to a heat-pump dryer that doesn’t need to be vented to the outside.
The Home of Tomorrow, as it is called, also incorporates additional features including a geothermal heat pump, water-saving toilets and faucets, photovoltaic solar panels, net metering, LED lighting, and insulation levels that include R-24 in the walls and R-70 in the ceiling. It is expected to be more than 50 per cent more energy efficient than its twin neighbour The Home of Today.
That house, built to current building code standards, includes 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. Students in Okanagan College’s residential construction trades program helped with construction and the homes represent collaboration and innovation that can’t be matched in this region,
Over the next three years, the homes will be studied by researchers in UBC’s School of Engineering. Listed for sale, once the homes are purchased and occupied, the true test of the science will begin.
“A manifestation of federal and provincial investments in innovation, this project is a perfect example of research that impacts communities both local and global,” said UBC Deputy Vice-Chancellor Deborah Buszard. “The Wilden Living Lab is the outcome of true collaboration. It demonstrates the value of the partnership between Okanagan College and UBC, educating the skilled workforce we need and creating new knowledge.”
The pioneering initiative is collaborative three-year learning and research project by Wilden developer Blenk Development Corp., AuthenTech Homes, Geotility, UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College, FortisBC and Honeywell. The collaborative research is being conducted by UBC Professor Shahria Alam and Wilden, with support from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada over the three-year project.
And this past weekend, the project came away with a top prize at annual Tommie Awards, organized by the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) Okanagan chapter. The project won the gold FortisBC Award for Building Energy Efficiency. The Wilden Living Lab was also the silver medal finalist for these awards:
- Excellence in Show Home $500,000 & Under
- Best Environmental Initiative in Construction (Residential or Commercial)
- Excellence in Public or Private Partnership
The month of February has been set aside for public open house tours.