EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Home Building trends, Solar Power

Ottawa Infill House Project

One of the projects currently underway with EkoBuilt is an infill home in central Ottawa. This house is being built to Code Plus standard and is currently being insulated; drywall to start this week.

EkoBuilt’s Code Plus framework designs to the projected building code standard of 2030 when it’s estimated that minimum exterior wall insulation will be R32 (currently R22), and roof insulation will be a minimum of R50 (currently R32).

The house also has a 10 kW solar array attached to the Ontario Micro fit program. Watch for more updates this winter.


Child's bedroom in energy efficient home plan
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, House Design

Energy efficient home plans are essential

If you’re planning on building a new home, you’ve got a chance to get it right from day one. Low energy bills, a healthy and supremely comfortable living environment, great design – what’s not to love?

Energy efficient home plans are the key ingredient to an energy efficient home, along with energy efficient materials and building technologies, and – of course – a builder who understands how to make the most of all of these.

Energy efficient home plans from EkoBuiltWhy are they so important?

Home plans that have been developed by an experienced home builder over time will take into account myriad factors, including the best distances for work areas in a kitchen, ideal corridor and flow pathways, orientation of private spaces to public ones, relationships of the indoors to the outdoors, etc. But there is much more to a home than floorplans.

An energy efficient home plan will also take into account things like roof slope and style, overhangs, maximizing window size on south and west facing walls, etc.

Will you know an energy efficient plan when you see it?

Possibly not. Unless you know the right things to look for, you may not be able to pick out the best options. An energy efficient home builder will be able to guide you in selecting from the best plans, can work with you to further customize those base plans to best suit your needs, preferences and budget, and will know the appropriate building materials and systems required to realize the build properly. The right builder will stay abreast of the best home building technologies and approaches for reducing a home’s energy footprint.

Why EkoBuilt?

Child's bedroom in energy efficient home plan

A child’s bedroom in the EkoBuilt model home. Although curtains have been added for light control, they aren’t needed for warmth. The Munster windows are incredibly well sealed and energy efficient.

After years of building custom and energy efficient homes for customers, the EkoBuilt team has years of experience in designing and building homes, and this experience has translated into the 13 energy efficient home plans from our Passive House line, as well as 8 tiny/coach house plans for secondary dwellings/rental properties and tiny home enthusiasts.

The 13 passive house plans that we’ve developed encompass both two-storey and bungalow styles, all boast low-slope roofs with large overhangs, and each one is designed to maximize the placement and size of south and west-facing windows.

These house plans also build on years spent accumulating knowledge of the best kinds of home floorplans to cater to different lifestyles and life phases. Some of our plans will be better suited to individuals, retired couples or those without children, while others are more clearly family/multi-resident homes.

All of the plans include an optional basement with lower-level access, and all can be paired with an energy efficient garage, as required.

Homes designed to take advantage of electricity – the fuel of the future

These homes are easily and cheaply run using an air to air source heat pump which can heat a home for less than $30/month (electricity) during the coldest months of winter. Really!

And, as noted above, we’re always delighted to work with clients to customize one of our plans to best suit their design preferences, budget and needs. We can help you think through how you live and how your home’s design can best support that.

Most importantly, we can help you end up with the most delightfully comfortable and healthy home, that is also the most energy efficient one possible to build currently.

Get in touch

Tell about your dreams and plans; we’ll help you choose the best energy efficient house plan and show you how to make it your reality.

Read more about the EkoModel Home, which demonstrates all of these principles.

Graphic courtesy of TheFix.com
Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, House Design, Simply Sustainable

Add a little inspiration to your spring

It’s feeling like spring really has sprung, and it seems like a good idea to share some of the inspirational ideas we’ve been storing away over the winter. Fun and clever stuff that will get the cogs in your brain whirring!

Making your old wood ‘pallet-able’

How to upcycle pallets into “rustic-industrial” stuff for your home

Pallet safety infographicThis article from theFix.com was recently shared on Treehugger.

It helps to determine which pallets are safe to use, and which are not, and also contains a fun and informative infographic on how to prepare pallets for whatever project you might have in mind.

Also from theFix.com is Home Improvement Projects You Can Do with Reclaimed Wood, which gets the same cool infographic treatment, making for a quick and lively review of some neat design options.


Passive house on wheels anyone?

Cargo van conversionDigital nomad’s ultra-minimalist van conversion includes hidden bike rack (Video)

We’ve all seen our fill of tiny home projects, including many models designed for hitting the road. This sleek cargo van conversion is a really cool addition to the options available to anyone wanting to live on the road.

Just plain cool

10 Ways to Repurpose Vintage Furniture (Apartment Therapy)
All-in-one cube is ‘room within a room’ that hides bed, bike, closet & office (Treehugger)
Genius Trash to Treasure Crafts (Good Housekeeping)

Happy Spring!

Ottawa home builder EkoBuilt at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show 2017
EkoModel News, Home Building trends

Your questions answered!

The Ottawa Home & Garden Show last weekend was a tremendous experience. As ever, we enjoyed many rich conversations and answered a lot of questions. We thought we’d share some background here for our newest readers.

Who we are and how we are different?

EkoBuilt is a company committed to building homes design for the 21st-century. This means strikingly designed and deeply comfortable homes that are easily and cheaply heated and cooled with electricity.

Why do we do what we do?

It is our goal to get anyone and everyone in a quality passive house as affordably as possible. Our minimalist approach to design and investment in finding the right products/materials/systems have made this abundantly possible.

What exactly do we do?

First and foremost, we design and build low-energy homes that need no furnace or boiler.

How is this possible?

Super insulated, airtight and vapour tight construction.

What do we use for heat and air conditioning?

Even in a low energy home, heating and cooling systems are needed, but in a passive house, we just need a simple air to air source heat pump which is cheap to install and cheap to operate. These systems are not viable in conventional homes because the heating and cooling demands are too high.

On average, a passive house in winter with no sun and -30°C needs approximately 6 kWh of energy per day to keep house comfortably at 21 degrees. That’s amazing!

What about fresh air?

Even homes built to standard code require an HRV [heat recovery fresh air ventilator]. The difference is that conventional HRV units are 65% efficient, whereas passive house HRVs are 95% efficient.

The passive house unit also removes humidity which is important because these homes are vapour tight.

Find out more

If you’re new to EkoBuilt and our site, you can check out the Passive House and Coach House sections. The blog is also a deep source of detailed content on all of the above.

Kitchen design on Houzz
Home Building trends, House Design

2017 Kitchen Design Trends According to Houzz

Kitchen design on Houzz

Photo courtesy of Houzz

Design mecca Houzz has released its Kitchen Trends Study for 2017. The study polled nearly 3,000 users who are planning, executing or have recently finished a kitchen renovation. Results point to newer trends like shiplap, continuing ones like stainless steel, and changing tastes in counter tops, as well as custom storage.

We like that kitchen renos have a great way of helping homeowners to focus on their health. A revitalized kitchen tends to lead to a clearer, improved focus on cooking.

Read the full 2017 Kitchen Design Trends Report here.

You might also like:

Kitchen Design in a Passive House
Energy Efficient Appliances for Your Home

Low energy house with double car garage
Home Building trends, House Design

Garages & carports for the low energy home

Over the past year we have been asked a number of times if garages/carports are possible with the lower energy homes and the answer is, yes – absolutely, why not?

While a stand alone garage or outbuilding has its advantages, for many of us living in colder climates, there are real benefits to a structure that is attached to the home. What’s important is that the garage or carport is constructed in such a way that it does not compromise the weathertight shell of the home, and this is easily done.

We’ve prepared revised sketches of three of EkoBuilt’s low energy home designs to incorporate a garage or carport.

Low energy home with carport

Low energy home with carport

The Stonecrop design with optional carport

Low energy house design with carport

Foxglove design with integrated carport

If there was one limiting factor to incorporating a garage, it would be to not place it on the southern side of the home as this would block the sun. Any other side would be fine.

Introducing a carport or garage actually provides opportunities to add further interest and utility to your home’s exterior, and to create defined outdoor areas for patios, gardens and other features.

The concept below, which shows a double car garage added onto the Trillium model (the EkoModel Home that we’ve been building this year), illustrates how a lovely space would be created on the south-facing wall of the home that would anchor a garden or seating / outdoor dining area. This is actually highly practical, as the door immediately to the left of the garage exits from the home’s living and dining area, just steps from the kitchen.

Trillium house plans with double car garage

Low energy house with double car garage

The Trillium model with optional 2-car garage

View all of EkoBuilt’s house plans, including the models showing sample carport and garage placement.

We’re delighted to work with you to discuss optimal design and placement for any of our low energy house plans. Sample cost per square footage: approx $35/sq ft for a carport, $55/sq for attached garage. Contact us for details.

Don’t forget that you can come out for a walk-through the EkoModel Home this weekend for International Passive House Days.

Home Building trends, House Design

Kitchen design in a passive house

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of interest in the kitchen space when we recently took part in Green Energy Doors Open. The hub of any home, the kitchen is a space that inspires and drives enthusiasm in any home building project.

We had a lot of fun planning the kitchen, which sits at one end of the ground floor of the Trillium floor plan that we  used for the house. As seen in the picture below, the one change we made to the original plan was to remove two of the walls to the home office, incorporating it into the main, open plan space. A short knee wall provides a practical work space defining feature that also helps to hide any clutter from the main living space and the home’s entrance.

Ottawa passive house kitchen design and layout

Click to enlarge

The kitchen is based on a tight work triangle, making it very efficient to work in, and has a breakfast bar/island that is open to the living/dining area. There is a window out to the front of the house, and a clear sightline through the large glass doors off the dining area to the back garden.

Very high ceilings allowed us to introduce 9′ tall upper cabinets – these are not practical for every day items, but make for great storage of holiday and seasonal items which aren’t needed regularly. A deep pantry under the stairs at the kitchen entrance is another great practical feature.

Counters: Canadian soapstone

Ottawa passive house kitchen layout from EkoBuilt

Click to enlarge

Soapstone is the only naturally nonporous and unmanufactured stone available in the countertop world.  It is simply cut from the quarry and installed to fit.

Our counters are from Canadian Soapstone.

Soapstone is known for:

Longevity and durability
Nonporous nature
Being locally sourced

Cabinets: UniBoard product

All cabinets in the kitchen are made from UniBoard particle board. All UniBoard wood fibre content is from recycled, recovered or post consumer sources, making it a very sustainable choicel.

It is also a healthy material having fulfilled the requirements of:

  • eco-certified composites (ECC)
  • sustainability standard and California air resources Board (CARB)
  • airborne toxic control measure (ATCM)

Still to come:

Above the stove we will be installing a non-vented fan instead of a conventional fan, which is typically connected to the outside. This prevents massive air leakage which affects the energy performance of the home. Unvented fans are state of the art these days and do a great job with the use of carbon filters.

On the stove wall we also plan to install some open concept shelves and racks to lend a restaurant vibe to the space.

Watch for final styling shots of the kitchen and the home later in 2016 and early in 2017.




Home Building trends, Solar Power

Going solar: the EkoModel Home

While solar energy is often associated with passive homes, it isn’t for the reasons that you might think. You can read more about this in our How to Solar Power Your House post from June 2016.

In real terms, a passive house will use under 15 kWh per square metre, per year. The EkoBuilt Model Home will make use of a 6kW solar array to meet its total energy needs for roughly six months/year.

EkoBuilt’s demonstration passive house just west of Ottawa in McNab-Braeside will have a small companion solar installation to cover its total energy needs (this includes energy to power a water heater, the heating/cooling system, and of course general lights/electricity use):Aquion battery to be used by EkoBuilt's demonstration passive house project

For all of the details, you can download these one-page info sheets that we’ve prepared:

Aquion batteries info sheet [pdf]

Hanwha Q cell panels info sheet [pdf]

If you have questions or would simply like to learn more about how a very modest solar installation could help with your home building project, please feel free to get in touch.

Sept 2017 Note: The Aquion salt water batteries used by the EkoModel Home are still an option, but the company recently changed ownership, and we’ve been advised that new units won’t be available until spring 2018.

Southern elevation of Ottawa passive house by EkoBuilt
Home Building trends, Passive House facts

PassiveHouse and R2000: A comparison

The R2000 building standard has gained profile in recent years as an energy efficient approach to home building. The formalized program, which has seen thousands of building professionals trained and many R2000 homes constructed, resulted in a great deal of awareness across Canada.

At EkoBuilt, we believe that the PassiveHouse model is the superior choice for the 21st Century Home, and it matters to us that our customers understand how different the R2000 and PassiveHouse concepts are.

We’ve prepared a new page on our website comparing R2000 and PassiveHouse and invite you to read it if you’re considering a home building project or are wondering about the future for building codes and the energy efficiency of different home building methods. What better way to head into the future?

PassiveHouse Compared to R2000, by EkoBuilt