No wonder energy-efficient homes are in such demand: they cost less to heat and cool, they help fight climate change and they offer buyers a remarkably comfortable environment.
Longwood Building Corp. has been building homes that buyers love for 30 years, but the company’s Green Solution puts a whole new focus on energy efficiency and its benefits.
“We’ve seen lately how expensive homes are to build and buy, and if we can make the operation of them less expensive, that’s good for owners,” says Longwood’s construction manager Simon Whissel. “And helping our buyers lessen their carbon footprint means we’re doing our part in fighting climate change.”
An energy-efficient home is also a more comfortable one, says Whissel, because it means consistent levels of warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer as well as eliminating drafts. Families experience an indoor environment that is a joy to come home to.
To ensure buyers of an energy-efficient home, Longwood uses a third-party energy consumption calculator that lets a builder make the best energy efficiency choices for its particular designs, materials and construction methods.
A better building envelope means a better home
The building code calls for exterior walls to have an insulation value of R-22 (“R” is a measure of heat transfer and therefore indicates how well a surface is insulated). Longwood’s Green Solution exceeds code by using R-24 batts as well as adding a unique Canadian product: Excel sheathing. Applied to the outside walls, Excel panels allow potentially damaging moisture from inside the home to escape while stopping rainwater and snow melt from penetrating wall cavities.
Excel also increases the R-value of walls. “It means the home holds the heat better in winter and cool air better in the summer,” says Whissel. It also acts as a barrier to outside sounds to keep homes quieter and is made from 98% wood fibers from local sources to help mitigate climate change.
Longwood tightly caulks and seals windows and doors and uses blower door tests, which measure air infiltration, to ensure heat and cold stay where they belong: outside.
Springing into action on vents
The Green Solution is about more than just R-values.
For example, vents for bathroom and kitchen fans and the like now have spring-controlled louvres. That means when a fan is not in use, the vent automatically closes tightly to prevent hot or cold air entering your home via the vent.
It’s a small detail but details can add up to big energy savings over time.
Reducing gas consumption and energy bills
The Green Solution also introduces a money-saving innovation for furnaces. Rather than a traditional natural gas furnace, Longwood has launched a system that uses the heat from the hot water tank, which would otherwise go to waste, to help warm the air circulated by the furnace.
“It’s a simple system that can cut natural gas consumption by up to 20%,” says Whissel.
In fact, Enbridge Gas estimates that all the components of the Green Solution will save a homeowner an average $718 a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 1,300 kilograms (about how much a single car produces over 9 months).
“The turnaround on energy savings is quite fast,” says Whissel.
More Green Solution strategies
The Green Solution also means
- Hardwood for flooring from certified renewable sources.
- Low to zero VOC paints, carpets and other materials (VOCs are volatile organic compounds used in manufacturing certain products, something you don’t want in your home)
- Continuous R-20 insulation on the inside of basement walls and drywall on all perimeter walls, resulting in cosy below-grade living spaces.
- An electricity-usage monitoring system that tells homeowners how much energy they are consuming and helps them save money by running washers and other appliances during off-peak hydro hours.