Wednesday 27 January 2016

update on energy use

I did a gas meter reading on Jan 23, 2016 and using our current rate of natural gas use, current heating degree days and normalizing the energy use to the average number of heating degree days for Ottawa, our total annual primary energy use should come at close to 110 kwhs per usable sqm per year. The current estimated breakdown is 33 kwh/sqm/yr hot water, 35 kwh/sqm/yr heating and 31 kwhs/sqm/yr electrical consumption.

Thursday 31 December 2015

First Snow Storm

Why, oh, Why can't  the City get it. Everywhere there are sidewalks unplowed more then 36hrs after the last snowflake fell. You can see the location from the pictures, these are busy places. Get with your program City. I shouldn't have to walk on the street in competition with cars and if I was in a wheelchair or otherwise less physically mobile I shouldn't have to wait 2 days after the last flake falls to be able to get around. After all, the roads are all "very" passable.

Monday 14 December 2015

energy use 331 Osgoode Street

We now have 5 months of energy use data from the triplex. All the figures are for the whole building. Average monthly electrical consumption is 712 kwh. Natural gas consumption readings from Enbridge vary widely between 25 and 200 cubic meters as each other month is estimated and I guess the algorithms are having trouble figuring out what to estimate. Average monthly use is 92.2 cu m. Converting the natural gas use to kwh and adding on the electrical consumption results in an average monthly energy use of 1678 kwh. The buildings net sqm is 270 (gross is 310 nic basement). The result is approximately 6.5 kwh per sqm per month. This does not include a winter yet, however using the current monthly average we are 77 kwh per sq m per year, well below the 120 target for a passive house building. The winter will tell if we get to below that level over the complete year, but so far it looks promising. The current average per person annualized ghg emissions are approx 400 kilograms for both electrical and natural gas use (6 people live in the building). This will go up somewhat as we go through the winter.

Saturday 12 December 2015

a thought today

Stop building more with less.....

White Pine Bungalow Passive House is the perfect energy-efficient retreat for retirees


Pumpkin Ridge Passive House consumes 90% less heating energy than a conventional house

Start building less better.... 

Small Prefab House built in just 10 days

A front view of Castlemaine Passivhaus

Friday 18 September 2015

front 100% finished

It's been a fun summer and the final form of the building is complete.

Landscaping is mostly complete and there is a bit of fencing to do. I have been doing most of the work myself and getting some sailing in at the same time. The utility bills are low as expected. So far our natural gas bills (hot water) average about 40$ per month for the building with all three apartments occupied. We have not yet installed the heat recovery unit for hot water in the stairwell. We will be able to use the hot air to heat the apartments on the second and third floor by just opening our stairwell door during the day. The electrical is about 80$ per month, average electrical use is 400  to 500 kwh per month or between 13 and 16 kwh per day for the 3 apartments and common space. About 1/2 the costs are delivery charges. Our tenants are wonderful and as you can see we use our terrace a lot.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

settling in

We are now fully moved in and the storage pup is gone. Here are some pictures as winter moves to summer and the trees start to green up.
in the morning light

looking down the staircase

light in the staircase

spring has sprung

Monday 23 March 2015

moving in this week

Time to start to take stock of all the good, a bit of the oops and where processes could be improved
Let's start with the processes that can be improved:
1) The minor variance / building permit issuing system is dysfunctional and can easily be improved. The staff at the two groups have quite different views of the function of minor variance. At the committee of adjustment there is an expectation that building plans are at close to 100% building permit stage when the consents and minor variances are applied for.  The building permits branch are struggling with what a minor change to an approved plan is. The current process delays projects unnecessarily. As a consequence novel and appropriate land use ideas are not being pursued by owners and developers due to the cost and time necessary to achieve the goal.
2) The fire departments, the province and city want to encourage the use of fire sprinklers in low rise residential buildings. Both the regulations and information flow at the city caused us delays and costs. It made it necessary to apply for a site plan approval with a 4" water service and then reducing it to 2" once all the engineering was completed.
3) Currently 60% of older people (empty nesters) live in a home designed for a family. The rest live in condos, nursing homes, adult residences and apartments. There are many reasons why older people don't move out, to downsize. They like:

  • their neighbourhood,
  • to garden,
  • knowing their neighbours
Our building was designed to fit into existing neighbourhood and allow people to age in place. We have large private terraces for gardening. But to make this work we need to layer the units so that there are no stairs within the units and a private elevator to get to the unit. The current interpretation of the regulations controlling elevators makes it twice as expensive to install an elevator for small privately owned multiple units and adds an annual cost. The act was never intended to regulate elevators that are for "private use". This is a case of the bureaucracy being overly protective.

Next post will list the things that can be improved in the design to reduce costs and complexity of construction.