Here on the West Coast of British Columbia, and indeed worldwide, sustainability and environmental protection are top of mind with eco-conscious builders and homeowners. Certainly, many of us strive to protect the beauty of our precious environment while pursuing innovative ways to live greener every day of our lives.
Builders and homeowners embrace a greener way of living by supporting the construction of Net Zero Energy homes. These homes are the pinnacle of energy efficiency, designed and constructed to produce as much energy as it consumes annually.
What is Net Zero?
The definition of a Zero Energy Building or Zero Net Energy Building is a structure with zero net energy consumption. In other words, the total amount of energy used by the building each year approximately equals the amount of renewable energy created on site. Consequently, these types of buildings generate a smaller amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than traditional builds.
MIKE HOLMES: “Net-zero homes produce as much energy as they consume. Given rising energy costs these homes are becoming increasingly more popular.”
Photo Credit: Joern Rohde, RDC Fine Homes
A further definition, according to Mike Holmes of HGTV online, “A Net Zero home produces its own energy locally and should aim to produce at least as much energy as it consumes. EnerGuide rates the energy performance of the home; the higher the rating, the more efficient the home. The lower the EnerGuide number the better energy performance of the home is. In order for a home to be completely Net Zero, it will most likely need to incorporate solar power or utilize some form of renewable energy source.”
Concerned individuals choose a net zero home build because they’re up to 80% more energy efficient than typical new home builds. They produce as much clean energy as they consume. All this plus a more comfortable living space and reduced future energy costs for the homeowner.
The features that enable a Net Zero Energy Home to do what it does comprises sourcing passive heat from the sun, using air-sourced and ground-sourced heat pumps, as well as the installation of solar panels.
There are further benefits to living in a Net Zero Home:
- All home features work together to minimize the household’s environmental footprint.
- Comes equipped with water-saving fixtures and appliances.
- Produces as much clean, renewable energy as the structure consumes.
- Empowers homeowners to help protect against climate change and preserve our natural resources.
- Provides a quiet, peaceful living atmosphere due to superior insulation.
- Provides clean fresh air indoors via a filtration system that reduces allergens and other air pollutants for a healthier living environment.
- Delivers outstanding year-round comfort with advanced construction methods and materials, in addition to heating, cooling, and ventilation systems that maintain comfortable, consistent temperatures everywhere in the home.
- Offers durability with high-performance windows, superior insulation in walls and roofs, all built to higher standards than conventional homes.
- Protects the homeowner from future increases in energy prices.
- Generates minimal year-round utility bills.
- Built with an advanced foundation system with superior insulation qualities.
Why Choose Net Zero?
Net Zero Houses are important to us for several reasons. For one, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation describes a substantial rebate on your mortgage insurance premium when you invest in a Net Zero Energy Home. Furthermore, they’re not limited to new builds, although it takes some planning, renovating an old home to a net-zero home is possible and the energy savings are worth the effort.
In order to build a net zero home, the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) has a labelling program to guide consumers. They are also a rich source of information to help plan a net zero build.
Longhouse has long been a supporter and partner in a number of sustainable building projects. We are proud to support these types of endeavours and believe they’re a mainstay of our future. If you’re searching for a more efficient, sustainable way of living, a net zero home is a sensible choice.
Timber buildings have been around for centuries. Thankfully, over time, code restrictions have been revised and changed, with concerns of fire safety topmost in many architects’ and builders’ minds.
New height restrictions have been introduced for wooden structures in the newest Mass Timber Code Proposals guide. Specifically, Code Change Proposals G75-18, G80-18, and G84-18 deal with tall wood buildings. The three code changes state that height, number of stories, and allowable area, should be reviewed only after one becomes familiar with the types of construction.
In the News
According to a recent news article, ‘Peter Busby designs a 40 storey timber tower proposed for Vancouver’, posted on treehugger.com, a new timber tower is in the works. Peter Busby of Perkins+Will Canada is the designer onboard the proposed green-build project. According to their website, Perkins+Will has one of the highest numbers of ‘Certified Passive House Designers’ of any design firm in North America.
One of the founders of the Canada Green Building Council (CGBC), with which Longhouse remains a member, Busby has a vision towards reducing energy consumption in new builds. To paraphrase, the tower is the tallest Busby thinks can technically be made with wood today. The building is to be predominantly made out of cross-laminated timbers (CLT) and dowel laminated timbers (DLT). This timber is manufactured in British Columbia and culled from damaged trees. Busby is optimistic it can be built between 35-40 stories high.
However, several people doubt the project will in fact go ahead due to the revised building codes. The new codes permit wood structures up to 12 stories with exposed wood elements, and up to 18 stories with wood enclosed in gypsum board. Procedures may be taken that permit variances from the code but could be time-consuming. To date, the tallest wooden skyscraper in Canada is the Brock Commons at UBC, at 18 stories.
Furthermore, zoning on the site in question has a limit of 14 stories. Unquestionably, every project should be studied to be suitable to the existing neighbourhood. Although wood is having a renaissance, there seems to be much debate about whether the proposed 40 towers is too tall for the site.
Longhouse Specialty Forest Products has played a role in thousands of exciting custom projects worldwide. We’ve had the pleasure of working with several talented individuals in the design and construction industry. Dedicated to sustainable construction methods and growth, in addition to maintaining as tiny of a carbon footprint as possible, we’re keeping a close watch to see how these new height restrictions affect future modern projects.
Designing a deck distinct from identical, cookie-cutter ones around you is a visionary’s dream. And certainly, creating an outdoor living space with worldly charm can be seamlessly tied into your home when prudently thought out.
Knowing what types of plants are native to each area, along with typical local decor, can assist you in constructing your exotic patio area. With these concepts from other countries, you too can feel like you’re on vacation as soon you step outside your home.
Canadian East Coast
East Coast decks are strung with lanterns and lights for evening outdoor entertainment after hard work days. Toss in some Muskoka chairs, teak furniture with bright red Canadian colours for a true Canadian feel. Wood or interlocking stone decking. Ornamental grasses that tolerate salty, humid coastal conditions.
Canadian West Coast
A typical modern West Coast style deck is constructed from locally sourced British Columbia cedar wood, conveniently sourced through Longhouse in Yellow or Western Red Cedar. West Coast patios are open, often accented with modern wicker furniture or teak, and outfitted with an outdoor kitchen. Patio covers are also constructed for our unpredictable rainy weather. Large pots varying heights, of greenery, ornamental grasses and blooms placed thoughtfully throughout the patio space accent our naturally beautiful outdoors as well. Strings of lighting to brighten cool coastal evenings on the patio.
The casual ambience of a Balinese patio offers tufted floor cushions and hanging lanterns for romance. Mix and match seating a further candle light mimic the magical space. Tropical greenery planted (palms) and stone sculptures often accompanied by a water feature.
An outdoor California patio may overlook a pool for an inviting oasis built with paving materials that withstand the sun. The design may incorporate a greenhouse for fresh, organic vegetables. You may find an old growth tree and perhaps a living wall with native plants, built out of reclaimed wood. A pergola climbing with honeysuckle also offers day to night enjoyment. There is also a rich array of wild flowers and palms.
A rose garden is a popular planting with a cosy cottage feel. English gardens are often overflowing with blooms and colourful pots of flowers, and a seating area for much-loved afternoon. Concrete pavers create quaint garden pathways.
Sleek and modern with an aim towards minimalism, showcase the palms flowing in the breeze. Alternately, they may be jazzed up with patterned seat cushions and colourful, tropical throw pillows for comfort. Modern lanterns hung add cool ambiance for late night soirées.
Think European vibes with a Parisian bistro set, beside a lush teak pergola climbing with clematis. Toss on black and white striped cushions for an authentic Parisian feel. French countryside patios often come with a variety of sweet potted plants and a statement repurposed mirror or frame as a focal point.
For a tropical feel, go with bright tropical print cushions, plenty of palm trees swaying, and a cement patio that withstands the humidity. Open-aired Place carved tiki accents and torch lighting for an authentic island feel.
Think Positano without the breathtaking views, unless you’re lucky to already have one of those! Italian marble sculptures are typical for outdoor living spaces, along with potted plants, wisteria, and climbing ivy. Throw in a gazebo for an intimate dining area to search those fresh Italian pasta dishes. Comfortable cushioned chairs, a long dining table for lots of family and friends, and pendant lighting setting the mood.
Beautiful handcrafted Mayan hammocks and dazzling hand painted tiles and pots accent Mexican terraces, along with drought tolerant potted plants. A trellis or pergola adds shade as well. Covered sundeck for plenty of outdoor entertainment as Mexican families love to spend time together enjoying delicious Mexican food. Wood deck made from coconut palm wood.
A Moroccan terrace, you’ll find brilliant coloured cushions, sheer drapes swaying in the breezes for a romantic, laid-back ambience. Elegant and confident. Beautifully patterned textiles mixed in, metal Moroccan style lanterns, and hand painted Moroccan tile flooring. No Moroccan garden is complete without some super-sized palms or heat-loving exotics. Not only do these architectural plants create cool, shaded areas, they also form beautiful shadows on smooth pools of water, they also create a year-round lush garden. Evergreens contrast with richly painted walls too; a common colour scheme used is a deep raspberry pink plaster and aqua-green tiled floor which blends beautifully with the foliage of towering banana plants. Plant them in enormous terra-cotta pots for added impact.
A Turkish patio might be constructed with local marble, accented with brass details, and finished with a terrazzo flooring. Iroko wood is a teak-like material used. Gorgeous Turkish lanterns add warmth and exoticism to the space.
Travel lovers can find all sorts of inspiration observing patio designs. Fortunately, Longhouse is Vancouver Island’s source for amazing outdoor deck design and can bring your exotic patio dreams to fruition.