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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

How and Why Cedar Siding is Environmentally Friendly

Cedar Versus Birch—Who Will Win?

Choosing between a softwood and a hardwood can be tough when you’re not aware of the properties of all the different types of wood. Depending on the use, from furniture to flooring, selecting the right species of wood is important not only for the project at hand, but for the longevity of the end product. Cedar and birch are two types of popular woods and both have a variety of uses. Nevertheless, cedar is a softwood and birch a hardwood. Regardless of how the term sounds, softwood is not weaker than hardwood, but can be less expensive. Fortunately, armed with further information, you can easily compare the two wood types and see which one wins for your building purposes.

BIRCH HARDWOOD

  • Two main varieties of birch for building purposes are yellow and white.
  • Yellow Birch varies from pale yellow to white in colour, with reddish-brown heartwood.
  • White Birch has a whiter colour resembling the light, creamy colours of Maple Wood, and can be indistinguishable between the two.
  • Birch is harder than Cedar, stable, and relatively easy to work with.
  • Birch is less expensive than several types of hardwoods and is readily available.
  • Birch doesn’t gouge easily and is therefore practical to work with.
  • Often used in the manufacturing of fine furniture and millwork, birch is also commonly used as veneer over plywood instead of solid wood.
  • Staining can be tricky with Birch since it can get blotchy and may require painting.
  • Birch holds screws well and is strong, making it ideal for bracing and other structural components, such as tables and cabinets.
  • Birch has good shock resistance and takes both stain and polish well.

CEDAR SOFTWOOD

  • The most common variety of cedar wood is Western Red Cedar which has a reddish colour, although there exists over a dozen species of cedar belonging to several different families of trees.
  • Western Red Cedar has a reddish to pink-brown heartwood and a light yellow-white sapwood.
  • Cedar has one of the most aromatic wood scents making it a pleasing addition to the interior and exterior of any building.
  • Cedar is an ideal choice for decks, patio furniture, wood shingles, and fence posts due to its inherent durability to withstand the elements.
  • Cedar has a straight grain and is known for its narrow, knotty planks because of its slow growth.
  • Western Red Cedar can withstand moist environments without decaying.
  • Additionally, it can be pre-stained in any colour you choose or left in its natural state. Western Red Cedar readily accepts colours and finishes and may be purchased in a wide range of grades, textures, and dimensions.
  • Biodegradable and recyclable, cedar provides excellent insulation.
  • Cedar wood decking is lighter and therefore, easier to work with than many other types of decking material.
  • Cedar softwood is also affordable and sustainably sourced.
Certainly, it depends on the type of project you require the wood for that will win your choice. After careful consideration of the pros and cons of each wood type, the decision should become clear which type of wood is best suited for the job.  

Net Zero Houses

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.

Benefits

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.