Building costs are high and affordable housing is a challenge in many areas of our cities and towns. For obvious reasons, inexpensive construction by means of cheap labour and inexpensive materials are often the chosen path. However, those days are quickly disappearing, being replaced with green builds and an eye to a more affordable and energy efficient lifestyle; builds assembled with sustainably-sourced, toxin-free materials, designed for reduced energy consumption in both use and during construction.
This style of advanced construction follows an assessment for building design and construction. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification program that awards four levels of certification based on a point system. Points are bestowed for energy efficiency, water usage, air quality, and building materials used, in addition for environmental factors, like access to public transportation and responsible land use.
Thankfully, there are increasingly more contractors, architects, and companies getting on board with LEED certification and all the benefits extended to both the company and the individual.
REASONS WHY LEED CERTIFICATION IS IMPORTANT
- Pollutants in an unhealthy building, possibly made with toxic materials or made with inadequate ventilation, cause all kinds of respiratory illness and consequently, employee absenteeism. LEED certification standards establish minimum indoor air quality (IAQ) performance. A healthy workplace thereby promotes healthy productivity and well-being of employees.
- Another element of a LEED certified build is the use of natural light. Workers are exposed to more natural daylight which makes them more effective and improves quality of sleep at night. It also provides an attractive, bright place to function.
- Tenants benefit from reduced living expenses when they invest in a LEED certified build. Savings are achieved through reduced energy and water costs, as well as reduced water and energy consumption with energy efficient appliances.
- A LEED certified build retains a higher property value over time than one without.
- Tax credits may be available in certain cases.
- LEED builds are made with natural, sustainable building material, such as the untreated, completely biodegradable Cedar available from Longhouse.
Individual well-being is rapidly becoming more important than blind over-production and work demands. Productivity improves in a healthy work atmosphere and home environment. Individuals today want to know how their company is contributing to a healthier, more sustainable future because he or she seeks the same goal.
Indeed, certain architects believe LEED certification is essential for modern builds. Environmentally conscious millennials are eager to not only live in sustainable homes, but also want to work for corporations who’ve adopted green initiatives and committed to LEED certified buildings. Longhouse continues to be involved and supportive of LEED certified projects worldwide and we remain passionate on persisting our journey on the higher road.
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.
The days are longer with increased daylight and now is the time to begin planning your outdoor living space and get back to basking in the great outdoors. But where to begin? Designing a splendid outdoor deck for your family and friends to chill this summer may initially feel intimidating, but with preplanning and basics, you can design the outdoor deck of your dreams.
Cedar softwood decking provides the idylic warm and luxurious aesthetic for any deck. With different stains to choose from, cedar decking also merges seemlessly with nature already outside your door.
You want to get the most out of your leisure time. Inhale the fresh air with these fresh outdoor deck design ideas and start celebrating!
15 BASIC DECK DESIGN STEPS
- First, consider your needs. Do you want to incorporate an outdoor kitchen, hot tub, or cosy reading area? Perhaps a fire pit to enjoy stargazing and socializing on warm summer evenings? Your new cedar deck can be as complex or simple as you like.
- Visualizing outdoor space can be daunting so invest time in scanning online deck pictures, collecting inspirations along the way. Pinterest and Houzz.com are perfect sites to gather ideas of what interests you, as well as what is possible (or not) in your space.
- Walk through where to place furniture and leave space for walkways in the deck area and start rough measuring.
- If you’re hiring a contractor, he or she can take care of building permits and codes. If not, it’s up to you as the homeowner to check with the city and apply for permits and ensure building codes are followed. Don’t be afraid to ask staff for help along the way. Accept that your deck design may change as you go along.
- Calculate a general budget to help avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the build. Tools, materials and deck décor add up quickly.
- You may want to contact local authorities to mark underground utilities like gas lines to avoid upsetting and expensive deck design mistakes.
- You don’t need to be an artist to sketch down rough plans for furniture, plantings, and BBQ placement to help actualize your deck space.
- Also think about conveniece and flow of the indoors to the outdoor deck. Ease of access and an outdoor kitchen and dining area that makes sense for your needs are primary points to consider.
- Contemplate outdoor scenes and whether they need to be disguised with creative greenery or left free of deck railing for unobstructed views.
- What type of plantings do you desire around the deck? Select potential trees, flowers, and plant containers; then, make note of required space.
- Additionally, consider shade and sun. You’ll likely want a covered seating area and a modern cedar pergola can do the job. Or perhaps an awning or umbrella will suffice, with spots for hanging planters and strings of patio lanterns.
- Depending on the area, you may want to have multi-level decking that creates different spaces and flow for a seating area and a hot tub, for instance. A water feature also adds a touch of nature with the soothing sounds of running water. Serene koi pond with bench seating, anyone?
- Furthermore, privacy screens are essential for comfort and intimacy from neighbours or less than spectacular views, so design seating areas carefully.
- Remember to go big rather than small—you’ll want your deck to be spacious enough to place outdoor items without being cluttered.
- Good lighting delivers the relaxing or romantic mood people appreciate in the evening. Consider where you want garden and deck lighting for optimal ambience.
Undoubtedly, creating a luxurious outdoor living space makes it easy to take full advantage of warmer seasons. Since cedar is naturally resistance to decay, it’s an ideal choice to become the foundation of your outdoor deck and withstands harsh weather. With pre-finished, custom cut cedar decking, you can select from Yellow or Western Red Cedar. Staff at Longhouse are happy to help you find what suits your needs best. Soon, when you step out on your new deck, you’ll smell cedar wafting in the air and know you’ve attained backyard bliss.