By: Paula McCooey
As the concern over climate change grows, so does the interest in energy efficient building and retrofitting.
The Green Energy Doors Open (GEDO) tour Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 showcases passive and net zero homes and buildings around Ottawa — as well as an Energy Showcase featuring green energy exhibits that will provide a snapshot into the future of sustainable living.
“It’s really a way to showcase the upcoming future lifestyles, the low carbon lifestyle that we are going to have to adopt eventually,” said Paul Cairns, executive director of SMARTNet Alliance, a tour partner that develops green energy business networks.
“Because of global warming, it’s kind of an inevitable thing so it’s an opportunity for people to see what the future has to hold.”
There are 10 host sites across the region. One of the homes on the tour is the Westboro EcoHaus at 539 Cole Ave., a 1,700 square foot, two-storey infill that draws its power from rooftop photovoltaic solar panels. It was designed using German passive home building principles to be a net zero energy building. This means the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.
“The whole south side roof is photovoltaic solar panels which produce almost as much energy as they would need in one year,” said Anthony Mach, an architectural technologist who created the drawings of the home.
“It has super insulated walls, roof, and basement. It has high-performance triple pane windows that are imported from Ireland, as well as a very high-efficiency heat recovery ventilator, which is an HRV, it’s also imported from Europe.”
Other green features include south facing windows, and onsite trees that were preserved to maintain the character of the neighbourhood and provide summer shading. Construction waste was minimized by using wall panels that were built offsite.
Compared to the average build, Mach estimates the home is likely 60 to 80 per cent more efficient, depending on occupancy.
Another byproduct of green building is better air quality due to the home’s high-quality filtration and circulation system.
Other stops along the tour include low-maintenance passive homes in Hintonburg and Manotick, as well as a unique opportunity to tour Canada’s oldest hydroelectric generating station at Chaudière Falls.
The tour, in its the third year, is free and organized by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.
The Energy Showcase at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park will feature around 30 exhibitors who will display a full spectrum of green energy lifestyle products and services — from electric vehicles and tiny homes to solar panel suppliers and sustainable builders.
Cairns says he used to deal mostly with “hobbyists”, whereas now Canadians are taking green energy building and lifestyles more seriously, particularly because recent weather events like the hurricanes in the United States and the Caribbean.
“The curiosity is starting to percolate more into the general populous. Because they want to know what the future will hold and what lifestyle they will have.”