EkoBuilt passive house
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Passive House

Sat, Jan 26th next EkoModel Home Open House

One of the top questions we regularly receive is when our next Open House will be at the EkoModel Home, our passive house demonstration property (4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2500 sq ft) just west of Ottawa. Mark your calendars!

EkoModel Home Open House
Sat, January 26th, 2019
9am to 3pm
96 Libbys Road
McNab/Braeside, ON K7S 0E1

Please come to feel and see for yourself the incredible comfort of a beautifully built Passive House.

EkoBuilt’s demonstration PassiveHouse was built on a 10-acre property just west of Ottawa during 2016. This 2,506 square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and beautiful, sun-filled rooms.

Related Posts

What is a smart home anyway?
Energy Efficiency, Home Building Resources, Passive House facts, Simply Sustainable

Measuring how smart a home really is

When we talk about ‘smart homes’, there is a general bias towards technology. Consider this definition:

Standard smart home definition: noun “a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer.”

At EkoBuilt, we see the smartness in homes very differently, using a sustainability lens.

EkoBuilt smart home definition: noun “a home designed to be autonomous without the use of electronic devices for heating or ventilation control.”

We also think the smartest homes can be affordably net-zero, taking their energy from renewable energy sources. Truly there is much confusion over what a smart home really is. Conventional thinking holds that a ‘smart home’ is one that uses more technology for control. But is that really very smart?

Shouldn’t a truly smart home need less technology?

We feel that a smart home is one that uses the least technology possible. It’s possible to design homes that don’t require all kinds of devices for control.

For example, a home should not need to be heated when the occupants are not there, and blinds should not be required because unwanted heat needs to be kept out. In a true passive house excess technology is not required because the space requires little heating or air-conditioning to be comfortable.

Using energy from the sun as a heat source, the home can be heated naturally even in extremely cold conditions. To reduce the need for air conditioning in hot summers, windows are strategically located to naturally shade themselves so unwanted heat is not coming into the home. This is a smart home!

It is more sustainable, and much smarter to use less technology, both environmentally and physically. There is simply no need to have a wi-fi thermostat. Why spend money to operate a furnace in an occupied or unoccupied home when you don’t have to? It is smart to spend as little money and to acquire as few devices for your home as possible.

Why passive homes are the smartest homes

Our point is of course, to communicate the intelligence of building to the passive house standard. It is, after all, the only truly resilient home known to man.

It is a home that uses so little fuel to heat and cool the space that the electric bills are approximately the same amount every month of the year, whether the home is being heated or not.

Not to be coy, every house, even a passive house, requires a heating system – especially in this part of Canada – but the passive house leaks so little heat (even during extreme cold conditions) that it costs very little to keep the space heated. Less energy, in fact, than a refrigerator uses in a year. Now, that’s a smart home.

Ever compared your home to a thermos?

Thermos passive house analogyA passive house is as close as you can get to living in a thermos! The key difference is the passive space has constant access to fresh air, while a thermos does not.

Seriously though – a good thermos can keep keep tea extremely hot for 24 hours, which is really quite unbelievable when you think about it. Well, a passive house is basically the same thing in a home. And that really is a smart home.

From a health perspective, it’s much safer to live in an environment virtually free of interior toxins or exterior pollution (propane or gas emissions), full of ample fresh air, and designed to last generations. Again, that’s a smart home.

Another vital feature of a truly smart home is that it be electrically operated. We’ve come to the point where a home designed to operate by propane and/or gas, is a home designed for the past. Fossil fuels are not the way forward. Homes for today and tomorrow need to be 100% electrically operated — it’s simply the only fuel source for sustainability. It’s also the best for our health and for our pocketbooks.

A home that helps to create a healthier environment is a home that is healthier for us, and energy savings translate into lower operating costs, and that means more money in our pockets.

In conclusion, a truly smart home designed for today should be one that is built to passive house standards. Realistically, every home in the near future will be required to be built this way, but why wait when you can start now!

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about building your passive home.

Related Posts

Simply Sustainable, Solar Power

Save the Date: Green Energy Doors Open 2018

EkoBuilt will be taking part in Green Energy Doors Open ’18 this year (Sept 21-23), and we’ll be opening the doors of the EkoModel home as we do every year! It’s always a great weekend, we hope you’ll join us! This year they have secured Catherine McKenna to speak, and they are showcasing more EVs and Exhibitors than ever.

Did you know the event is free to attend? This year your ticket will also entitle you to a free ride on OC Transpo to and from Lansdowne Park on September 22nd (the Saturday), as well as 20% off a meal at The Table Vegetarian Restaurant and 10% off purchases at NuGrocery Zero Waste (both of the discounts apply all three days of the event).

This year the event will again include a one-day EV Exhibition, showcasing electric vehicles, in Aberdeen Square in Ottawa (Sept 22).

Green Energy Doors Open, is a province-wide, year-round communications campaign and showcase of individual, community, and commercial sustainable energy projects. It is organized and spearheaded by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. The initiative aims to showcase advancements in the sector, demonstrating that Ontario is already on the path to building a 100% clean, sustainable energy system.

Save the Date

EkoBuilt Demonstration Home
21 – 23 September 2018
9am to 5pm
Full details >

Quick Links

Green Doors Energy Open 2018 – List of Host Sites

See you there!

EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Energy Efficiency, Passive House facts

International Passive House Days 2017

Passive House residents around the world open their doors Nov 10th – 12th, 2017. The EkoModel Home near Ottawa will open its doors after having been lived in for a year, so this is a great time to visit our project and check out others in the area.

Get first hand experience of the many advantages Passive Houses offer, and feel the supreme comfort of these super energy efficient homes.

Find Homes Near You

The EkoModel HomeTo search on participating homes in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, or wherever you live, use the Passive House Database.

The listing for the EkoModel Home, including its passive house credentials, can be found at listing 5081 on the Passive House Database.

Please come out and visit our four-bedroom, 2,509 sq ft passive house on any of the following days:

Fri, 10 Nov: 9-3pm
Sat, 11 Nov: 9-3pm
Sun, 12 Nov: 9-3pm

See complete house plans for the EkoBuilt Trillium passive house right here.

See all 13 of our Passive House plans here – we can modify any of these plans to best suit your needs!

Passive house materials and construction
Energy & Household Trends, Simply Sustainable

Don’t forget Green Energy Doors Open this weekend

The EkoBuilt Model Home will be open for public viewing on Saturday and Sunday this weekend from 9am to 5pm each day, as part of Green Energy Doors Open Ottawa ’17. We hope you’ll come out and visit our four-bedroom passive house just west of Ottawa. Just stepping into the house you’ll feel the difference.

The Eko Solar Engine - passive house infographic

Click to learn about the EkoBuilt solar engine

The EkoBuilt Passive House is our premier offering for home owners seeking the best investment, exceptionally low energy consumption, and comfort from a home that is also supremely healthy. We offer 13 designs, all of which can be customized to meet your specific needs and preferences.

Almost all of our conversations begin with the passive house and what it means for home owners. To aid these conversations and to support your research into the best home for you, we recently developed an illustration that shows the component parts of what we call the Eko Solar Engine.

Throwing our doors open this weekend offers a perfect opportunity to ‘see’ the solar engine in action and to ask questions. We look forward to meeting you!

Saturday, 30 Sept and Sunday, 1 October
9am – 5pm
96 Libbys Road
McNab/Braeside, Ontario K7S 0E1

Quick Links

Full details for EkoBuilt’s participation can be found here on the GEDO website.

Review all participating sites and events associated with this weekend’s GEDO.

Green Energy Doors Open 2017

Healthy Living

Save the Date: Green Energy Doors Open 2017

EkoBuilt will be taking part in Green Energy Doors Open ’17 this year (Sept 30/Oct 1), and we’ll be opening the doors of the EkoModel home.

This year the event will also include a one-day EV Exhibition on Aberdeen Square in Ottawa. They will showcase several electric vehicles, including a racing car.

Green Energy Doors Open 2017Green Energy Doors Open, is a province-wide, year-round communications campaign and showcase of individual, community, and commercial sustainable energy projects. It is organized and spearheaded by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. The initiative aims to showcase advancements in the sector, demonstrating that Ontario is already on the path to building a 100% clean, sustainable energy system.

Save the Date

EkoBuilt Demonstration Home
30 Sept – 1 Oct 2017
9am to 5pm
Full details >

Quick Links

Green Doors Energy Open 2017 – List of Host Sites

See you there!

EkoBuilt's passive house solar engine
Energy & Household Trends, Energy Efficiency, Passive House facts

Reflecting on a warm winter in the EkoModel Home

The sub-title for this post really should be “how comfortable is a passive house in winter?” And the answer is: very!

Okay, so the sun has been shining and we’re feeling the summer’s warmth, but cast your mind back to the long, grey winter we had here in the Ottawa Valley. Not for long, just long enough to picture the environment in which the EkoModel passive house spent its first winter.

Although the average temperature for the area was roughly -5.5C from December through March, December and January both saw some supremely cold days: -28C the low in December, -25C the low in January. Throughout the period we kept the house at steady 21C for daytime and evening; overnight, with no heating, the temperature would make a gentle fall to 18 or 19C by morning.

Having lived in homes in the past where keeping the temperature at 21C would have been too costly, this round the clock comfort was the revelation we hoped it would be. Both floors of the home, including the upstairs bedrooms, maintained these temperatures – no ‘cool spots’ as in many older homes.

The Eko Solar Engine - passive house infographic

Click to learn about the EkoBuilt solar engine that heats (and cools) this passive house

All of this was achieved using an average of just 31.75 kWh per day – which may not seem that low, until you remember that this passive house has NO FURNACE. That hydro-electricity usage simply represents the operation of the ‘solar engine’ components (including a fresh air exchanger, and an air-to-air heating and cooling pump) of the house, and daily living (lights, cooking, heating water*, PC and television usage) of a family of five.

So, our total energy bills for the four deep winter months was $801.48 (or $200/month).

*We heat our water to 120C.

An interesting note on Sunny Days

If it was a sunny day and we had approximately six hours of sun or more pouring through the south facing windows, we did not need to use the heating system at all.

The sun had no problem raising the temperature of the house from 19°C in the morning to about 24°C in the afternoon, in which case the temperature would drop to about 22°C in the evening and hover at about 20°C in the morning. Amazing!

 

What we’ll do differently next year

Overall, the house performed as expected, and the very low energy usage (seen here) and bills, even in a cold, grey winter, are great practical evidence. Less easy to share, but no less significant, is the supreme comfort that we enjoyed all winter long.

Hydry usage for the EkoBuilt passive house in winter 2017

Looking ahead to next year, we’re considering installing an ethanol (biofuel) fireplace. These units are a very simple and clean alternative to wood burning fireplaces and woodstoves, and their benefits are amplified in a passive house, where much less heat input is required to warm the home, and a fresh oxygen supply with good airflow is continually available.

There is a great overview of ethanol fireplaces on Houzz, and again we’d underscore the greater benefit to a passive house over a conventional build. In brief, this heating method has a very small environmental footprint, is low maintenance and attractive. We see this heat source as a great alternative when sunshine is severely limited, as it was this past winter in the Ottawa Valley. Any successful system has a built-in backup, and this looks like a great way to round out the solar engine that is driving our passive house.

Questions about the passive house performance?

If you have questions or thoughts about our passive home’s winter performance, please do feel free to comment here or contact us. We’re keen to share this information as clearly as possible in order to help homeowners to understand the huge benefits of building a passive house.

Ottawa passive house by EkoBuilt
Healthy Living

EkoBuilt featured in Capital Magazine

A nice overview of Passive House offerings in the Ottawa area featuring EkoBuilt has been published in the current issue of Capital, the magazine of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and business community. The article by Matt Curtis appears on page 22.

It’s great to see this kind of coverage and we’re delighted that EkoBuilt’s Trillium model is featured in the article’s picture.

Quick links

Article from Capital Magazine on passive house builders in Ottawa

Wood engineered siding on the EkoModel Home
House Design

Engineered Wood Siding: Beautiful & Sustainable

In spring 2017 we installed siding on the EkoModel Home. If you’ve followed the build of this passive house that we’re using as a showroom for what we can build, you’ll be familiar with its two-storey, flat-roofed visage.

This 2,506 square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and beautiful, sun-filled rooms from its south-facing rear orientation. When it came time to clad the exterior, we wanted to choose a product with a high degree of renewable or recycled content that would also be:

  • affordable
  • a natural material
  • extremely low maintenance, and – most important of all –
  • look great!

We choose an engineered wood siding product, GOODStyle by Goodfellow (a Canadian company), that comes with a 40-year guarantee and has 100% recycled content.

Offered in planks, shingles or panels, GOODStyle siding is available in a vast array of colours. We opted for a mix of grey and mustard tones, giving the house depth and interest (actual colours: Galet, Barn, and Cedar). You can realize your own perfect exterior with the many options and colourways available from Goodfellow.

For more detail, view the GOODStyle by Goodfellow brochure.

Before and After Photos

The rear, south-facing aspect of the house is where the common living areas are focused.

The front of the home, which is north-facing, has smaller windows.

Goodfellow Engineered Siding Photo Gallery

Find out more about the EkoModel Home passive house, and Goodfellow siding. Contact us today!

House Design

Ottawa Passive House Tour

Having recently tackled painting and flooring, and with appliances and cabinetry in place, the EkoModel Ottawa Passive House is nearly done. Today we’ll take you on a photo tour of the house.

A quick note on finishes

In today’s photo tour you’ll notice some finishes that we’ll share in more detail in future posts, including:

  • the reclaimed birch flooring from Log’s End that we used on the upper level (which contains the open loft, three children’s bedrooms and a shared bathroom)
  • the concrete floor with sealant that we used on the ground floor
  • the Big Ass fan that anchors the loft above the great room
  • the energy efficient pot lights that are used throughout the house

Ottawa Passive House Photo Gallery

Hover over the images for captions or click on any image to launch the full image carousel.