New Green Home Construction

Image: ©2017 The Green Energy

Here we are in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

Over the coming months we are going to showcase a New Home Build using some of the latest “Green” Technologies and Ideas.

The home is going to be an Owner/Build to show that the latest “Green” Technologies are within reach of anybody considering building a new home and are not only cost wise, but user friendly as well. The home will include an ICF(Insulated concrete form) foundation, SIP(structural Insulated Panel) walls, solar hot water heating that not only heats the home, but also the domestic hot water, solar panels and environmentally friendly building materials wherever possible.

Design, style and tastes all have an effect on the final product and while each of these can be taken to extremes, we will be using a balanced approach to maximize efficiency within the specific tastes of the Owners and site requirements of the location.

As the project progresses, we will update the status of the build with information and reasons behind material uses and construction procedures.


Image: ©2017 The Green Energy

Once the build site was prepped, it was time to build the foundation. We chose to use ICF(insulated concrete forms) supplied by Pacific ICF, for our project. The forms we used have an 8″ core with an R value greater than R22. Even though our design is for a slab on grade, the local building code required us to insulate the foundation. By using ICF, we not only achieved a great R value, but saved the costs of renting, shipping, installing and stripping concrete forms.  We also eliminated the labour of adding insulation after the foundation was completed.

The concrete used was supplied by one of the closest ready mix plant, approximately 11 kilometres away, to help minimize our overall carbon footprint. The concrete mix comprised of a product called flyash. Flyash is a by-product of coal-powered power generation plants. Once a waste product, it has found a second life in concrete as SCC (supplementary cementitious content). Cement producers have been substituting flyash in ready mix concrete as a partial replacement for cement powder, which helps reduce the demand for cement production, helping to reduce carbon emissions of the cement plant.

Depending on the concrete mix design, up to 50 percent of the cement portion of concrete could be replaced with flyash, although 15-20 percent is typical. Flyash also improves some of the performance aspects of concrete, such as improved sulphate resistance and better long term strength gain. In our foundation mix design, 20 percent of the cement content was replaced with flyash.

Main Floors

Once back filling inside the foundation commenced, structural fill, compacted at 10″ layers with a 1000 lb plate compactor, was used to bring up the grade in preparation of the slab on grade pours. Once the desired grade was reached, the plumbing rough in, under slab insulation and radiant hot water heating was installed. Four inches of insulation was installed under the slabs to provide a R15 insulation value.

Image: ©2017 The Green Energy

Exterior Walls

The exterior walls are made of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) provided by Insulspan. They are some of the first version of their Insulspan R-Plus SIP System. The Insulspan® R-Plus SIP System is an energy efficient building system consisting of an EnerSpan® insulation core with oriented strand board (OSB) structurally laminated to the interior and exterior faces. These panels, in the 6 1/2 inch thickness, provide an insulation value of R28. Not only are these panels more energy efficient compared to traditional stick framing, they are manufactured in a controlled environment and arrive ready to be erected, eliminating construction waste on site and accelerating the construction of the home.

Image: ©2017 The Green Energy

Not only do they make the home more energy efficient, they also give the home a more comfortable felling with a design that eliminates drafts. As each panel is installed, a mastic sealant is applied on both the inside and outside edge of each adjoining panel, as well as on the top and bottom plates, ensuring a tightly sealed fit. Significantly lower air leakage rates are achievable for energy efficient buildings constructed using the Insulspan SIP System.

Image: ©2017 The Green Energy


The vinyl windows and patio doors installed are composed of doubled glazed glass with a Low-e coating. Low-e coatings have been developed to minimize the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that can pass through glass without compromising the amount of visible light that is transmitted. When heat or light energy is absorbed by glass, it is either shifted away by moving air or re-radiated by the glass surface. The ability of a material to radiate energy is known as emissivity. In general, highly reflective materials have a low emissivity and dull darker coloured materials have a high emissivity. All materials, including windows, radiate heat in the form of long-wave, infrared energy depending on the emissivity and temperature of their surfaces.

Radiant energy is one of the important ways heat transfer occurs with windows. Reducing the emissivity of one or more of the window glass surfaces improves a window’s insulating properties. This is where low emissivity (or low-e glass) coatings come into play. Low-E glass has a microscopically thin, transparent coating—it is much thinner than a human hair—that reflects long-wave infrared energy (or heat). Some low-e’s also reflect significant amounts of short-wave solar infrared energy. When the interior heat energy tries to escape to the colder outside during the winter, the low-e coating reflects the heat back to the inside, reducing the radiant heat loss through the glass. The reverse happens during the summer. Low-e coatings play an equally important role and significantly affect the overall performance of a window and the total heating, lighting, and cooling costs of a building.

Image: ©2017 The Green Energy

Between the double glazing is argon gas. Double glazing window energy efficiency can be further increased by substituting dehydrated air with an inert gas, such as argon, xenon or krypton within the unit. Argon, which has 34% lower thermal conductivity than air, is the most commonly used. Although argon-filled units cost around 5% more than air-filled units, they can improve a double glazing window’s U value or energy rating by over 30%.  It’s a colourless, odourless gas and not harmful in any way if leaking should occur. Because argon gas is denser than air, adding it to the captive air in double-pane windows improves thermal insulation efficiency. Used in conjunction with a special low-E (short for low emissivity) glass coating, argon gas windows bring the temperature of the window closer to room temperature. This process ultimately eliminates air currents and drafts that occur when differing temperatures meet.

The style of opening windows chosen for this project are called casement windows. One of the windows is a combination fixed and awning window, which has similar efficiency. The casement is the ultimate ventilation window. Unlike the hung and slider windows, the whole window opens up to take in a breeze. The casement can be positioned strategically so that even a 2 to 3-inch opening would act like a sail on a boat and direct the breeze inside.

Already superior in ventilation capability, the casement is also the superior window for energy efficiency. Its compression seal technology provides the tightest seal, effectively making the casement the energy efficiency king of windows, second only to a fixed window in efficiency.

Casement windows are ideal for hard to reach places, provide an unobstructed view and generally are easy to clean. Designed with an interior locking handle, these style of windows are generally harder to break into.

Thanks to Joe at Tyee Windows for working with us on this project.

Image: ©2017 The Green Energy

3 Comments to “New Green Home Construction”

  1. By Chris, November 7, 2017 @ 9:36 AM

    Looks great so far. I’ve always wanted to build with the ICF materials.

    Just curios to how thick your slab on grade is?

    • By Allan, November 8, 2017 @ 6:33 AM

      The house slab is 4 inches thick, the garage is 5 inches thick.

  2. By Radiant Energy, August 17, 2017 @ 5:37 AM

    Going Green with new construction is the way to go!

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