The most misunderstood building science topic is the requirement of a poly vapour barrier on the interior side of framed wall assemblies. Top building experts agree, careful air sealing, not vapour barriers are the key to keeping moisture out of wall cavities. Air movement accounts for more than 98% of all water vapor movement in building cavities.
Dr. John Straube, the renown Canadian Building Scientist states: “The whole reason we’re talking about vapor barriers is not because vapor diffusion control is so important, but because people believe it is so important.” ** (Diffusion is the mechanism by which moisture moves through building materials.)
The laws of physics govern how moist air reacts in various temperature conditions. The temperature and moisture concentration at which water vapor begins to condense is called the “dew point.” Relative humidity (RH) refers to the amount of moisture air can hold at a certain temperature. The ability for air to hold water vapor increases as it warms and decreases as it cools. Once air has reached its dew point, the moisture that air can no longer hold condenses on the first cold surface it encounters. If this surface is within an exterior wall cavity, the result is wet insulation and framing. If the wall is not able to dry effectively – the inevitable result is mildew, mold and rot.
Figure 1 shows that over an entire heating season, only a third of a quart of water diffuses through a whole sheet of drywall. However, under the same conditions, air leakage through just a one square inch hole in a sheet of drywall, allows 30 quarts of water vapor to pass through drywall (Figure 2). A third of a quart versus 30 quarts. Nearly 100 times as much water vapor goes through the hole in drywall by air leakage than goes through a sheet of drywall by diffusion.
“One of the problems in the building industry is that we have a spreading ‘cult-like’ mentality that worships at the ‘church of polyethylene’. This cult views the answer to all moisture problems as the installation of a polyethylene vapor barrier on the inside of buildings. This cult is responsible for many more building failures than building successes. It’s time the cult deprogramming started.” – Joseph Lstiburek, P.Eng, Ph.D. / Building Science Corporation.
National Building Code (NBC) Vapour Barrier Requirements:
NBC stipulates a vapour barrier must have a water vapour permeance of less than 60 ng/Pa*s*m2 or 1.0 Perm. However, most Professionals specify the use of a polyethylene vapour barrier (with a vapour permeance rating of 3.4 ng/Pa*s*m2) installed between the drywall and framing.
There is a cleaner, better and more cost effective solution! Vapour barrier primers and paint meet code. They easily control vapour diffusion while allowing some drying to the inside. The application is fast and simple. No poly, no black gunk, no tape and no staples. More importantly painting drywall is really easy to do and hard to get wrong. Conversely, the installation of a poly vapour barrier is complex and difficult to get right.
Most primers and paint exceed NBC requirements for water vapour diffusion, with a vapour permeance in the area of about half of that allowed by code.
Rather than using black gunk and tape to seal conventional plastic vapour boxes to poly, self-gasketing plastic boxes seal directly to drywall. Fast and effective. No adhesives required.
Not only do vapour retarder primers and paint meet code compliancy, the application of vapour barrier paint is supported by building science. There is no downside with primers and paint, they just need to be better understood.
Learn more about vapour barrier primers and paint.
Passive House is one of the most stringent energy efficiency certifications for buildings. There are a multitude of factors that affect the building’s performance, however certification boils down to essentially two aspects. Energy usage is one of them. The building must use less than a certain amount of energy relative to the footprint (15 kWh/m2a). It must also meet a certain level of air tightness (0.6 ACH). How you achieve these targets is almost irrelevant – as long as you hit them. In the end, Passive Homes end up using roughly 75-90% less energy than conventional homes.
What about the cost? It is significantly smaller than one may suspect. An investment of only 2-7% is required for a substantial pay off in energy savings. The monthly savings in energy costs outweigh the increased monthly mortgage payments. The total investment cost of the house goes up, but monthly expenditures of mortgage and utilities can stay the same if not decrease.
With many energy efficient products, the pay bay or break even is sometimes brought up. The math can be done, but I quite often pose the question: what is the payback of those expensive granite countertops? Nobody considers this, as there is no financial return to these expensive aesthetic upgrades. Meanwhile, these items can be easily upgraded in the future. On the contrary, it is quite difficult to go back and increase the amount of insulation in your home. If you are going to insulate your home (or other building), then do it once, do it right, and put the investment into it.
Invest in Quik-Therm Insulation. We can provide a variety of solutions to match the needs of each individual project. What kind of insulation needs are required for Passive House certification? Well, whatever R / RSI value will make your building use no more than the 15 kWh/m2a target. Keep in mind the 0.6O ACH air tightness that needs to be achieved. Wouldn’t it be great if you can have an insulation that can help with both of these targets simultaneously? Quik-Therm certainly thinks so!
Cornerstone Architecture has designed Canada’s largest passive house building, and Peak Construction is nearly finished building it. It is located in Vancouver, BC, and has 85 units, plus retail space on the main floor. This is a precedent for the building industry, showing that these extremely energy efficient projects are not just viable, but profitable. Since Vancouver wants to be a Net Zero city by 2030, they are paving the way for the rest of the country for what is coming up next in building codes.
For this project, they decided to use two wood stud walls, with a layer of Quik-Therm’s Multi-Purpose Insulation sandwiched in the middle. This provides a substantial amount of continuous insulation, making the wood stud walls with fibreglass batts perform even better. Since Quik-Therm has a plastic reflective facer on either side, it is also acting as the vapour barrier by taping the seams. For the floors, they are using Quik-Therm Connect to take advantage of the built-in wood inserts . A 6″ layer of Connect overtop of the concrete ensures an excellent thermal break, while providing a fastening method for flooring.
A ballpark effective R value for Passive House is R 30-50. I have seen a lot of passive house wall profiles and inevitably these walls can get quite thick. In addition, there is a significant amount of wood used – significantly more than is required. For “ease” you can design a 2×18″ wood stud wall with cavity fill and use the same old conventional way of building as is currently used for 2×6″ residential construction. However, this does not make sense and there are more efficient ways of building. For many of these walls, I like to use the saying there is an inefficient use of structural materials. Why use more wood than you need? It creates thermal bridging and lowers the usefulness of cavity fill insulation, is expensive and labour intensive, and puts pressure on the trees of our planet. In 95% of all residential homes only a 2×4″ wood stud is required for structural integrity. The only reason builders build with 2×6″ is to meet the insulation requirement: by having a bigger cavity to put in a thicker batt. (Quik-Therm helped the Home of Tomorrow by showing they can increase energy efficiency by using 2″ Connect on the exterior of a 2×4″ wall.)
A great alternative to these overly thick and structurally inefficient walls is what we are doing for an upcoming Passive House project in Vancouver. They have a conventional 2×6″ wood stud wall with cavity fill, which they can use for their electrical and plumbing requirements. Outside of that, they are putting a 6″ layer of Connect, which has the built-in wood strapping making it quite easy to fasten. This layer will also constitute as the air/vapour barrier. Overtop of the Connect they are going to attach a layer of Solar Dry to integrate a rain screen. This alleviates ALL thermal bridging, minimizes wall thickness, and provides ease and simplicity of installation.
Quik-Therm is a member of the Passive House of Canada. We have a few key distributors that have taken specialized training on how to build Passive Homes and the best way to reach the targets. Even if you aren’t looking to achieve certification, the principles can be used to increase energy efficiency in your next project. Passive House is the way of the future, and it is certainly starting to gain significant momentum. I have heard that there are “millions of square feet in the design pipeline for Passive House projects.”.
Every project is unique and different, with its own constraints and challenges. Why not contact a Quik-Therm distributor to help ensure energy efficiency for your next building? When it comes to insulating a building, do it once, do it right, and let us help you.
Have you ever been in a really nice house where you wished you wore slippers in the basement? It seems a little outrageous doesn’t it? Why in the world would you want to invest money into creating a new living space and potentially doubling your square footage, but have it uncomfortable? Yet, it happens so often. I once had a discussion with a gentleman in relation to basement floor insulation. His comment was something like: “Why would I need to insulate my floor? It won’t save that much money on my energy bill”. He is slightly correct. Floor insulation will not have dramatic effect on your energy bill. This is why it is so important to insulate your walls and rim joist effectively in basements. However, the gentleman I’m referring to missed a really important point. My response was: “Why wouldn’t you want to insulate your floors? You are in constant contact with the floors through one of the most sensitive parts of your body…your feet”. This gentleman missed a fundamental aspect of insulation. Comfort.
Comfort is one of the biggest factors in a basement renovation. You’re not going to want to sit downstairs and watch a movie while needing a mound of blankets to stay warm. What if you’re finishing the basement for your kids? Children are always playing on the floor. You wouldn’t want your children to be uncomfortable. These ideas are precisely why Quik-Therm Insulation developed Quik-Therm Warm Floor. Warm Floor is a 7/16” Type 3 high density rigid foam insulation floor underlayment. Quik-Therm has kept Warm Floor as thin as possible to avoid encroaching on headroom. Even though the product is thin it still provides an effective R-value of 3.5, and that is enough to take the chill out of your floor. The temperature difference between an uninsulated floor and a Warm Floor is up to 7 degrees Celsius. That is dramatic. Especially on an area as sensitive as your feet! Quik-Therm Warm Floor is an approved vapour barrier and will not support mould or mildew, or absorb moisture. The installation of Quik-Therm Warm Floor is probably the easiest thing you will ever do. The 4×4 Warm Floor panels are butted up against one another like an incredibly simple, life sized puzzle. It is then sealed with a reflective tape, which allows Warm Floor to act as a vapour barrier. Quik-Therm Warm Floor works very well with rigid flooring product such as laminate flooring, or engineered hardwood flooring. Due to the rigid nature of these flooring products you can install them directly over Warm Floor. No fasteners or adhesive required.
Ultimately, Quik-Therm Warm Floor is an easy to install floor underlayment that will provide you with superior comfort in the areas where you need it the most. http://www.quiktherm.com
Some of the best inventions are the simplest. When certain new products enter the marketplace, they seem like such an obvious concept after the fact. I am sure a lot of people catch themselves thinking, ‘why didn’t I think about that?’
Quik-Therm Connect is a very simple concept: integrate wood strapping with rigid insulation. Foam is an excellent insulator, however when it comes to fastening and integrating into a building, there are considerations to take into account.
Let’s say you want to install rigid insulation on the exterior of your building that will have a cement fiber board cladding. You can attach the foam to the substrate easily, but then the fiber board will have to be fastened through the foam into the studs behind. This can create deflection issues, since the fastener has a portion of non-structural material to go through. I have heard numerous issues with boards sagging and waving and not being flush due to this. Hardie will not warranty their product when there is more than 1″ foam behind it. Anything more than 1″, the cement fiber board must be in direct contact with a structural member.
(On a related note, it is not advised to put thin layers of rigid insulation on the exterior of a wall due to potential moisture issues occurring from the dew point. Rule of thumb is the thicker the outboard insulation, the better. The next blog article will deal specifically with these topics.)
When using more than 1″ of exterior insulation, you would then have to put strapping members vertically at 16″ on centre so that the cladding can be directly supported. This greatly increasing your labour and materials costs. In regions requiring a rain screen, these strapping members are required anyhow, but what about the majority of the country that does not require rain screen?
Quik-Therm Connect is an ideal solution. The built-in wood inserts located at 16 or 24″ on center allow the 4×8′ sheet to be attached directly to the studs. Any type of cladding can then be fastened just to the Connect wood strips, without having to go all the way to the studs behind. This creates structural support and complies with warranties of manufacturers like Hardie.
In the render above, you can see there is no OSB/plywood sheathing. In many regions you are not required to use sheathing where Quik-Therm Connect is installed. Builders have opted for let-in or other forms of lateral bracing. Interior drywall also contributes to the structural integrity. However, in high-seismic zones sheathing is still required.
Redoing the exterior cladding of your building? It’s an ideal time to reduce your utilities cost by adding insulation. There are also a handful of renovation grants for such applications.
Some people assume our products are for either residential or renovation or commercial, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter. Our rigid insulation products can be used on pretty much any and all buildings.
While Connect was initially designed as exterior insulation, over the years it has been used for various other applications. I am always pleasantly surprised at just how versatile the product is.
One home builder decided to use it on his ceiling, creating an excellent thermal break below the rafters. With the seams taped, it also becomes the vapour barrier and thus eliminates the need for a separate layer of poly. Drywall can then be easily fastened to the Connect wood inserts.
One architect decided to spec it into an office building, on the interior side of the concrete block wall. All in one product, it became the insulation, vapour barrier, and structural attachment point for the finishing drywall. This saved a significant amount of labour and materials compared to a conventional wood (or steel) stud wall with batts and poly. Furthermore, Quik-Therm Connect simply does a better job insulating. There is much to be said about such continuous insulation, void of the inherent thermal bridges in stud construction.
For some renovation projects it is easier to add additional insulation from the inside rather than redoing the exterior. A residential renovation proved that Quik-Therm Connect has no problem in this application. Once again, certain areas provide grants for such insulation retrofits.
Another architect decided to use it overtop of his concrete floor in a commercial building. One 6″ layer of Quik-Therm Connect was used to fasten to the concrete floor, then plywood attached to the wood inserts, and finally the flooring overtop of the plywood.
The same architect decided to use 2 layers of 6″ Connect for another flooring job. With a single layer of Connect, there is a rather small amount of thermal bridging through the screws. However, two layers of Quik-therm Connect eliminates all thermal bridging. These projects are Passive House, one of the highest levels of energy efficiency certification. For Passive House they are adamant about reducing/eliminating as much thermal bridging as they can, and the Connect is an excellent solution.
Prime Habitat Builders in Kelowna, BC, also decided to use Quik-Therm Connect for their Passive House project. Instead of the what the designer specced for the floor insulation, the builder found efficiencies in using a 4″ layer of Connect instead.
Where else do you think Quik-Therm Connect can be used? Talk to one of our distributors to discuss your upcoming projects and how Connect can save you time and money while increase the performance of your building and saving energy costs.
More and more exterior insulation is being used and specced into all types of buildings. There is great benefit to insulating walls from the outside, and this will be a blog topic unto itself. In a nutshell, exterior insulated walls reduce the condensation potential, and handle moisture better due to increasing the sheathing temperature. Mark Gauvin built a test hut in the Vancouver area with a variety of different wall profiles to see the effects of how each would handle moisture. Everyday, water was artificially added to the wall. In every case, walls with exterior insulation performed better than ones without. I would recommend taking a look at Mark Gauvin’s test hut report.
Mineral wool exterior insulation has been the go-to for many architects and builders, however is this based on performance or simply convention and getting on the same bandwagon?
While Roxul claims that their products are hydrophobic and repel water, a quick experiment shows that mineral wool may not be nearly as water repellent as we would like it to be. Dow published a study where they submerged mineral wool (as well as their own foam board) under water for 2 hours. They found that the mineral wool absorbs a significant amount of water, whereas the foam absorbs barely any. Intrinsically this makes sense – there is a lot of open air space in the mineral wool that water can get into. You can take a look at the full report from Dow here.
We tried a similar DIY experiment to see for ourselves. It’s easy – simply take a sample of mineral wool, weigh it, and submerge it under water for only 5 minutes before weighing it again. It will pack on about 35% additional water mass in that short time span. Keep it submerged for an hour, and this increases to 85% additional weight in water. Do the same experiment with any Quik-Therm product and you will see how essentially no water is absorbed. Feel free to read about this test further here.
Moisture getting into insulation is a problem unto itself. Even a small percentage of moisture absorption can degrade thermal performance significantly. In Dow’s study mentioned above, the amount of moisture had caused the Roxul to perform at only R-1, instead of the labeled R-4.2 per inch. Let’s say you have 4″ exterior mineral wool – this would only be performing at R 4 instead of about R 16. This in turn lowers the sheathing temperature and creates much higher potential for condensation in the wall cavity. Not a good situation all around.
Drying mineral wool took a long time in these studies, and would take even longer when trapped behind cladding in a real world application. It would take days – if not weeks – for the product to dry out to its initial state. During this time it is quite likely it will simply absorb more moisture with water infiltration. Once mineral wool gets wet, it can be quite difficult for it to dry and perform at the stated R 4.2 again.
I heard someone say that ‘where there is rain screen, there is going to be rain.’ This makes perfect sense, and in such an event, why would you want to put anything fibrous that can absorb moisture into your exterior wall system? It reminds me of putting fibreglass and poly in an interior concrete (usually residential basement) application, where the chance of condensation and other issues is so high it is coined as a ‘guaranteed failure.’ I have a difficult time believing any type of fibrous product on the exterior can stand up to the elements. Both water absorption and wind washing degrade the thermal performance, and isn’t thermal performance exactly why we use insulation?
Many builders and architects are hesitant to have an exterior vapour barrier. It can be done with relative ease, as long as a few criteria are met, and they end up in many cases performing better and are more air tight. However, some prefer building with products and applications that allow breathability to the exterior. Quik-Therm developed Solar Dry precisely for this purpose.
Solar Dry is an exterior rigid insulation board that has grooves on the sheathing side. This offsets the insulation from the sheathing to allow for drainage and breathability to the exterior. While the product itself is impermeable, the way it is made and the application it is in allows for ventilation.
The product’s impermeability is used as an advantage. The plastic reflective facer will not allow moisture penetration, will not be affected by wind washing, and maintains a stable R-Value. Such cannot be said about fibrous insulation. Solar Dry’s grooves ensure that should any moisture get into the wall cavity, it can be drained, vented, and dispersed to the exterior.
Next time you are looking for ‘outsulation,’ consider a product that won’t absorb moisture. Quik-Therm’s Solar Dry Insulation is the perfect alternative to the pitfalls of mineral wool.
One of the many things I like about Quik-Therm products is just how versatile they are. Some builders/architects/others in the industry assume that our products are only for residential, or only renovation, or some other classification. Truth is Quik-Therm products can be used in any construction project. Whether it is stock residential homes, multi-million dollar custom homes, commercial, institutional, warehouse, or any other project – be it new or renovation – Quik-Therm products have a place. While some of the products are more innovative and easier integrated during the design phase, keep in mind the Multi-Purpose Insulation can be used wherever rigid insulation is called for. It saves both material and labour costs over the conventional blue/pink board.
Blue Sky Manor is an apartment building located in Lethbridge, Alberta, and was in need of some energy efficient renovation upgrades. Before the architect knew about Quik-Therm Connect, the plan was to install strapping on the exterior directly overtop of the stucco, apply spray foam insulation between the strapping, install a layer of sheathing, a layer of building paper, and then finally the cladding. Not only does this contain a substantial amount of materials with associated costs, it is quite labour intensive. Thermal bridging can also be found through the wood strapping due to a lack of continuous insulation.
The architect then heard about Quik-Therm Connect. It was easy for him to see the benefits of the product from both the material and labour point of view, and the choice was simple to switch to Connect. Instead of installing strapping, spray foam, sheathing, and building paper, a simple 4×8′ sheet can be attached directly on top of the stucco exterior. With the built-in strapping in the Connect, the cement fibre board (or other cladding) can then be installed directly to the Connect.
While money was saved due to lower material costs, the amount of labour to get the job done was reduced significantly. Can you imagine only going around the building once to install Connect compared to 4 times with the previous spec? Time and labour is a huge component to building, and how quick and efficient you can get a job done will directly affect your bottom line. Wouldn’t it be nice to finish a job not just on time, but ahead of schedule?
The team working on this project estimated they saved three weeks labour by using Connect. It’s not hard to understand how significant the labour savings are here.
Generally in life, there are multiple ways to do something to have the same end result. However, are you using the most efficient way? Why waste your time, money, and energy when there are more efficient options? With Quik-Therm, you are saving material and labour costs by working smarter, and adding value to your bottom line.
Paradise Estates is located in West Kelowna, BC, and will consist of 21 multi-million dollar homes. While being situated on the beachfront of Okanagan Lake, the gated community includes amenities such as a swimming pool with waterslide, putting green, outdoor fireplace, and an entertainment area. Each home will have its own elevator with access to the rooftop patio including a hot tub, high end appliances, luxurious finishes and interior detailing, wireless sound system, and (my personal favourite) a large temperature controlled wine room – a showpiece unto itself.
While many people notice the exterior aesthetics and relatively superficial aspects of a building, it gives great piece of mind knowing the high-performance construction inside the walls. Paradise Estates has chosen to use a 2″ layer of Quik-Therm Connect overtop of their 2×6″ batt filled steel stud frame. Since using batt fill in a steel stud wall is not effective and loses roughly 70% of its insulation value, an exterior layer of Connect rigid insulation (with the built-in plywood strapping) creates an essential thermal break before such losses can occur. This way, the Connect provides continuous exterior insulation, while simultaneously helping the steel studs and batt cavity fill perform much more effectively.
Initially the plans had called for horizontal Z-girts every 2 feet, with rigid board insulation placed in between. This creates the same problems as steel studs and batts, in that conduction of the steel significantly lowers the insulation value of the wall. Furthermore, the Z-girts would be in contact with the steel studs behind, creating even more thermal bridging and energy loss. Such is not the case with Quik-Therm Connect.
Using Z-girts and rigid insulation in between is also quite labour intensive. With Paraside Estates (and other similar developments), everything that they do is literally times 21. Any additional costs to a building will be added 21 times for all the homes in total. In the same light, any cost savings will be found 21 fold. Quik-Therm Connect comes in one 4×8′ sheet, with the strapping already embedded into the insulation every 16″ (also available in 24″), combining multiple steps into one. Time is money and the quicker you can install your products the more savings there will be.
Find more information about the development at http://www.paradiseestates.ca.
Wilden’s “Home of Tomorrow” has completed installing Quik-Therm Connect, and is now ready for cladding. During the process, Wilden asked Derek Snitynsky and Raymond Belanger from Quik-Therm to talk about the product, the project, and the current state of building. Take a look at the following video, with the transcript below.
“Our product is Quik-Therm Connect and what it is, is two inches of expanded polystyrene foam with a built in wood insert located at 16 inches on centre. This is ideal for the connectivity point of view, to attach it to the structure, and also to allow the cladding to be attached to the product.
One thing that Quik-Therm Insulation provides is full scale modelling with our testing. While some insulation products will just test that single product, it doesn’t take into account the wood studs, the windows, whatever it might be. With Quik-Therm, we want to test the whole wall profile, and that’s what they are doing with the Wilden Living Lab here – putting sensors in the walls and actually seeing what it performs like in a real life model.
When new innovation comes out, a lot of contractors are very resistant to that change. When the 2010 building code came out, energy efficiency was a major part of that. The reality was that homes had to be built better. I look at this project and I look at the young contractors coming up looking at outsulation as an alternative or an advancement to the energy efficiency of the building. It starts at the beginning of some of the young people’s careers, getting them to understand different ways of building buildings – better ways of building buildings.
The value of this project is great, it’s a precedent for not only our company, but for the industry in general. We really don’t see many buildings like this, doing these side by side comparisons between the minimum building code – which is essentially the minimum, not the best way to build – compared to the Home of Tomorrow that we are going to be seeing a lot more and more in the coming years.”
Kelowna, BC is the home of the “Wilden Living Lab,” whereby two homes will be constructed side by side and monitored for the next three years. One will be the Home of Today, being built to minimum current code requirements, while the other Home of Tomorrow will incorporate additional energy efficient features. The homes are being built under the guidance of Authentech Homes, with the majority of the hands on work done by Okanagan College students in the residential construction program. Both homes will incorporate a variety of sensors, so that students from UBC Okanagan can monitor and compare the actual energy consumption between the ‘Today’ and ‘Tomorrow’ homes.
The Home of Tomorrow is taking advantage of Quik-Therm Connect for the exterior walls. This provides excellent continuous insulation, while making it easy to attach the cladding onto the built-in wood inserts of the Connect. The house is also saving space and unnecessary materials by eliminating the plywood sheathing, and going down to a 2×4″ wood stud. Sheer strength will come from the diagonal let-in bracing, as well as the drywall on the interior side. Using a 2×4″ stud is acceptable for nearly all residential construction, and the only reason we changed from this to the now current 2×6″ was to accommodate a thicker insulation batt to meet code. (Some highly energy efficient homes you will see 2×8″ or double stud walls up to 12″ thick, which to me just seems like an inefficient use of structural materials. Efficiency isn’t just have to be about wall performance, but wall materials and thickness.)
Here is a rendered picture of what the Home of Tomorrow Wall will look like:
Similar wall profiles using Quik-Therm for the exterior can be found on the Advanced Wall Assemblies page. Keep in mind this Connect can be interchanged with Solar Dry or Multi-Purpose Insulation and achieve the same results.
Quik-Therm is very happy to be part of a project with such precedent. While homeowners are looking for higher energy efficiency in their homes, projects like the Wilden Living Lab show just how simple and affordable it can be done. This is the way of the future, and while such a wall may seem “advanced” at this point in time, it is only a few years away before this wall will be the new norm.
For more information on the homes, take a look at the Wilden Living Lab page. We will continue to provide updates and pictures here as the project progresses.
There are an increasing number of energy-efficient sustainable buildings and homes being constructed in Canada.
This makes good sense as these buildings are more “environmentally-responsible”, provide greater comfort, save occupants money, and have higher resale values when compared to conventional construction. The environmental benefits of sustainable/green homes and buildings are numerous. Sustainable buildings improve indoor air quality, preserve and protect our ecosystems and conserve natural resources. When compared with conventional construction, green homes and buildings use approximately 26% less energy, cost 13% less to maintain, have a 27% higher occupant rate of satisfaction and produce 33% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Natural lighting and improved ventilation positively influence the health of people. The occupants of green buildings are less often sick and more productive.
Contrary to what most people believe, energy efficient buildings can be built quickly and easily with minimal added expense.
A sustainable building is a wise investment that will pay dividends in the long term. The cost to construct a energy efficient building is approximately 3 to 5% more than a conventional construction; however, projected energy savings, higher resale value and lower maintenance costs far offset the initial upfront expense.
As per a TD Canada Trust Green Home poll and a survey by Royal Le Page, 77% of Canadians were willing to pay up to $20,000 more for an energy efficient home. The facts are, sustainable buildings retain significantly higher resale values and savvy buyers know their utility and maintenance costs will be lower than Conventional construction. As well, these purchasers place high value on superior comfort, health and environmental benefits that sustainable buildings provide.
When it comes to sustainability, investing in additional insulation is priority one.
No other aspect of sustainable construction is more important. Starting with the basement foundation, the building envelope should be viewed the same way you would view any financial investment – invest money now to get more back later. You can think of a well insulated home as a built-in hidden savings account. Utilizing continuous rigid foam insulation for your building envelope walls is the best investment you can make. Rigid foam is relatively inexpensive adding about 1% to the cost of construction. In other words, to install 1.5 inches of rigid foam insulation to a $1,000,000 building will cost approximately $10,000 extra. Conventional track buildings do not have a layer of continuous insulation, consequently they lose a lot of heat energy called (Thermal Bridging) through framing members (studs).
Most energy efficient buildings have walls with batt insulation in the cavities, plus continuous insulation, generally rigid foam, installed on the outside. But this is not always the case.
Green buildings can also have ultra-thick double stud walls filled with cellulose or fiber batt insulation. As well, they can be constructed utilizing Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). ICF walls are very efficient and have rigid foam inside and outside with concrete poured between. Depending on the source of heating; gas or electric and the design, size and location, the monthly savings on utility bills could match or in many cases exceed the added cost of the monthly mortgage payment. For larger buildings with high ceilings, energy savings will be realized immediately. However, for small buildings or homes it may take a few years to receive a return on investment. However, if we consider Manitoba Hydro’s twenty year forecast of at least a 3% per year increase in energy costs the long term energy savings for sustainable buildings are significant.
But “building green” is so much more than lower energy bills.
Currently, the financial incentives received from federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as from lenders can significantly reduce the upfront costs of building green. For example, Manitoba Hydro Power Smart has introduced a new program for Home Builders. This program pays the Builder up to $12,500 when they construct a high performing energy efficient home. The more energy efficient the home, the more money the Builder will receive from Power Smart. Whether you are buying a new home or doing a large renovation, do your homework and become informed about the available energy efficiency incentives. The bottom line benefits for energy efficient sustainable building are significant. Considering long term savings on energy bills, superior health and environmental benefits, greater comfort and high re-sale values….. it doesn’t cost to build green, IT PAYS!