What is conventional construction?
Conventional construction is the traditional method of construction using common techniques and materials. In this method of construction trade knowledge is passed from one generation to the next, which is why new homes are built almost identically to those built over 25 years ago. Generally, most builders are content with the status quo of the Building Code, knowing they can build in a way that works and resist changes that break away from their comfort zone. Most conventional houses designed and built today generally have one common goal, to simply meet Building Code minimum standards. Unfortunately, most Building Codes have no consideration for energy consumption, operating (utility) costs to maintain acceptable levels of comfort, and ensuring high indoor air quality. This minimalistic construction approach will no doubt render the cheapest build upfront, but is not the most affordable construction approach for the end user when considering annual operating (utility) costs. The majority of builders are unaware a better way to design and build is available today with PASSIVE HOUSE.
What’s the problem with conventional building enclosures?
Conventional building enclosures are heavily reliant on active (mechanical) heating systems to compensate for their low thermal resistance. This energy intensive trade-off results in high operating (utility) costs to maintain Building Code compliant room temperature and relative humidity levels. All rooms must be conditioned and maintained constantly, especially during the colder winter months. Not for the inhabitants, but for the structure itself. Turning off your heating system saves you a dollar, but may result in condensation damage causing poor indoor air quality and structural rot. Poor indoor air quality can be a hazard to human health due to the growth of mould and fungus leading to severe health impacts. Often the mould and fungus is hidden within the building enclosure and remains unnoticed from the interior and exterior. Conventional building enclosures are delicate and heavily reliant on active (mechanical) heating systems not only to function, but to maintain a healthy refuge for the people inside.
Why should you care?
Design Professionals and Builders are responsible to design and build a functional home. Your clients demand comfort and energy efficiency, but thermodynamics and hygrothermal analysis may not be your forte. The Passive House approach enables radically reduced energy consumption, while guaranteeing good comfort. However, pursing this unchartered territory can be intimidating for most Design Professionals and Builders. Or worse, having no doubts and planning without applying building science principles in design choices that may lead to expensive building failures. How to decide on insulation type, how much insulation, window types, where to put the air barrier and/or vapour retarder (Class I, Class II or Class III), what products or assemblies have good moisture management? Akira Living is here to answer all questions and provide design solutions affordably.
Is keeping up with conventional construction working?
You could maintain the status quo of conventional construction and meet prescriptive Building Code requirements. However, as we all know, Building Codes are a slow evolutionary process that requires a commitment to life-long learning and continual improvement of the building enclosure – a waste of valuable time for both the Designer and Builder in Akira Living’s opinion. Passive House may possibly be what your local Building Code or municipality are building up to in regards to energy efficiency requirements. Why not get a head start and lead the market?
Akira Living is your trusted technical information source to get your company jump started with Passive House, in lieu of years of studying the mass amount of Passive House information available in books, online and in specialized training courses.
BC Energy Step Code introduced in April 2017
The Building Act passed in 2015, and now the BC Energy Step Code is available for municipalities across BC to adopt to incrementally transition new construction towards net-zero ready by 2032. The BC Energy Step Code is performance-based, with a greater attention to energy-efficiency verified through energy modelling. However, with good building enclosure design, and the right partnerships, building a net-zero ready building can be simple.
What is the BC Energy Step Code?
The BC Energy Step Code is a set of progressive performance steps for new buildings that go from the current BC Building Code to net-zero ready buildings. It is a voluntary tool municipalities across BC can use to encourage, or require, the construction of more energy-efficient buildings. The BC Energy Step Code was developed to support the Province’s Climate Leadership Plan for all new buildings and houses to be net-zero ready by 2032.
How does the BC Energy Step Code change the design & construction process?
All steps (Step 1 to Step 5) in the BC Energy Step Code will require energy modelling and air barrier commissioning. A blower door test will be conducted to verify a minimum level of airtightness is met (1.0 air change per hour or less required by 2032 for Step 5). Energy Modelling pre-construction will be required on every project to generate the proposed building’s Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI), which is a metric of building enclosure performance to determine if a minimum level of energy-efficiency is met. By 2032, all buildings are required to be net-zero ready with a minimum TEDI of 15 kWh/m²/year. That is the same level of energy-efficiency required by the Passive House Standard, coincidence?
How to prepare for the BC Energy Step Code
The BC Energy Step Code is a performance-based approach rather than the traditional prescriptive approach. Architects must determine how to construct the building to meet the energy-efficiency targets. At Akira Living, we have simplified the design process by engineering a plug-and-play building enclosure Detail Package allowing Architects to meet energy-efficiency targets and design with confidence.
Akira Living’s Passive House based services and products make the leap to Step 5 (50%+ beyond code) affordable for your Architecture Firm and new clientele. Building better is simpler than you think. Contact us for more information.