The Casa Verde Project: Thinking About Greening Your Home? Part 2
In the May issue, we first introduced you to Casa Verde, the net zero home being built by Rudy and Stella Reger, of Energy Smart Canada. The home is now well on its way to becoming a reality. In this issue we’d like to share with you the progress of the build and how it looks to date. Every aspect of this home’s design has been geared toward both energy efficiency and longevity.
The house will be net zero, with the end game plan to become completely off-grid. If you are building a new home with geothermal and solar, it doesn’t make sense to not have the rest be energy efficient as well. To that end, the Regers have been working with award-winning Dave Wolfe of Greener Homes, enlisting his expertise in the field of energy efficient homes. Cal De Jager of Touchstone Homes is involved in the construction of the envelope. The building envelope of a house consists of its roof, sub floor, exterior doors, windows and of course, the exterior walls. The envelope construction and materials play a crucial role in the overall energy efficiency of the home.
Each part of this home’s design uses the most up to date energy efficient materials on the market. In fact, the wall design was created by Cal De Jager and this is the very first home to utilize his design. This home will truly be a first on many levels and is a very exciting project and culmination of a dream for this couple, who have been in the business of offering energy efficient products for over 20 years. Every detail, large and small, of this home has been well-thought out to maximize energy efficiency. From the build, to esthetics, to appliances, each facet contributes to the overall greening of the home.
The home will also feature “smart” technology, with internet-enabled electrical outlets, plugs, power strips and switches. They add convenience to any appliance and can make a big dent in your electric bills by keeping unused appliances turned off and reducing “standby” consumption. You can turn devices on and off remotely from anywhere with an internet connection, set automation rules for intelligent home behavior that adapts to your own lifestyle and usage habits, and monitor power consumption in real time.
Construction began early Spring with the framing of the house. Next was building the wall system, which has two layers of insulation on the outside rather than the inside because of having the structural integrity of the wall on the inside. This creates an R50 value that is more than double the provincial code lessening the cost for heating and cooling and raises the comfort level. For the attic, the minimum requirement is R49, Casa Verde will have a R100 rating, also over twice the required amount.
The insulation consists of spray foam and additional batt insulation and an inch of styrofoam insulation-backed siding to complete the envelope. The cladding they chose to use is hardie board. It is best known for its longevity, appearance and resistance to fires and storms. This siding is completely rot and insect resistant and can even handle salt spray from the ocean. Hardie board siding is 90 percent sand and cement which is what makes it fire-resistant.
The Regers decided to go with the Accelera® E Heat Pump Water Heater from Stiebel-Eltron, which they have sold and installed at Energy Smart for years. They have found them to be not only extremely efficient but very reliable. For every watt that an Accelera's compressor and fan uses, the equivalent of 3-5 watts of hot water is generated. They believe this to be the most efficient water heating technology available. The low-flush toilets in the home are made by Caroma and interestingly enough,have the tank hidden in behind the wall with just the seat/base of the toilet actually in the bathroom. This is a great space saver, and visually appealing.
Rather than powering fans to redistribute accumulated warm air downward, they have included air returns installed about 30' above the main floor level. By taking in this warmer make-up air, rather than the cooler air at floor level, the efficiency of the heating system improves.
Windows have also been installed. They are a European tilt and turn style, triple pane glass, compared to standard dual pane windows. The triple pane glass allows two more sides of glass to have coatings applied to help keep the heat inside in the winter and the cool inside during the summer.
Outside of the home, over 52 trees have been planted. The “pond” has been dug out and pipes placed in the bottom for the geothermal field. Water will be circulated through the pipes and the heat will be extracted from the water for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.
The pond was recently filled with over three million gallons of water and will also be used for irrigation, fire suppression, swimming and fishing (Rudy wants fish, Stella is not so sure). There is even a small island in the pond! Rocks have been placed up to eight feet down the banks of the pond to help maintain stability of the bank and help to prevent erosion.
A trench has been dug to house the electrical cable for the solar array that will produce all the electricity for the home. They have also installed a septic tank (for sewage) and cistern (for pot-able water).
The home is really starting to take shape, and with the majority of the shell completed and systems being put in place, next will be the interior finishings; cupboards, appliances, painting and décor.
While Rudy and Stella will be showing their new home by appointment to those interested in greener homes, that isn’t the reason they are building. This home has been their dream. Rudy says they wanted to build a “forever” home that reflects their values. They value lessening their carbon footprint, living in a space that contains clean air, not depending on the ups and downs of fossil fuel costs, and providing a home for family that will last. If by doing this, it creates a curiosity for other people to go greener, he’s more than happy to answer any questions they may have.
2825B 2nd Avenue South (Crowsnest Trail) 403-327-4129