LEED Platinum in Canada: Designed to Bore

Sigh. In the States, the first LEED platinum house is from LivingHomes and designed by Ray Kappe. In Canada, the first LEED platinum house even comes with an embarrassing headline: "Don't let the plain look fool you." And it is in a suburban subdivision. With a two car garage facing the street. The builder gives the usual explanation: "We didn't want to build something so far out that it didn't feel familiar to people."-the story of our lives in Ontario.

It is built in Guelph by Reid Homes, a reputable suburban builder, with system design by the University of Guelph School of Engineering. Of course no architect is listed in the article; it is a "best-selling home design that it already offered in Westminster Woods, the Webster." Once you get past the appearance, there is lots to like, albeit at a $ 150,000 premium to the $ 325,000 standard model. However to their credit, the builder kept it simple and scaleable: "Reid's had several mandates for the project: one was that anything put in the LEED house had to be available to purchasers."

"The items we used also had to have integrity as far as the technology went, so they'd be durable and there wouldn't be a problem with breakdowns or repairs. As well, it had to be something our staff and tradespeople could learn to deal with. I think we did it." ::The Star
House features

Rainwater Harvesting: Collects rainwater from the roof and stores it in an underground concrete tank. Water is pumped into the house for toilets, laundry, dishwasher and underground sprinkler. Expected to cut use of municipal water by up to 40 per cent.

STREAM geoexchanger: Uses free heat energy from the sun and earth for home heating and cooling, as well as to heat hot water. Heat is collected from the ground through a loop of pipes. An indoor heat pump circulates the air and distributes it to the hot water system. In summer, the process is reversed to draw warmth from the house into the ground. Estimated to save up to $2,500 a year on energy bills.

Solar panels: Additional heat is supplied to the house and hot water system from solar panels on the roof that collect heat from the sun and transfer it to the geoexchange system.

Xeriscaping: Drought-resistant plants, including 80 per cent native species, won't require much watering. Native plants have stable growth and can be suited to local soil.

Cent-a-meter: Displays up-to-date measure of household electrical usage and how much home owners are spending, which helps to manage day-to-day electrical consumption. Also monitors greenhouse gas emissions.

High Performance Walls: Advanced framing techniques use 2-by-6-inch studs set 24 inches, instead of 16 inches, apart with continuous rigid insulation (R10) – wrapped in Pink blanket insulation, reducing thermal bridging through studs and keeping wall cavities warm and dry. Thirty per cent less wood used because fewer pieces had to be assembled and labour costs were lower.

Bamboo floors: Recyclable bamboo is grass that's harder than maple flooring.

Low-E argon windows: Transmit only 20 to 40 per cent of sun's heat in summer. Provide thermal resistance in winter.

Concrete countertops: Made from natural materials, built as solid mass; no adhesive to emit harmless toxins.

Dehumidstat: Allows homeowner to set humidity levels to help eliminate issues such as condensation that can result in mould and mildew.

Attic insulation: Combination of ProPink blown-in insulation made from recycled glass and soy-based closed cell foam. Emits no harmful toxins.

PET carpet: Made from yarn consisting of recycled pop bottles; offers superior stain resistance and indoor air quality; heavier and more luxurious than conventional nylon.

Slate tile: Reduce allergens and contaminants.

Central vacuum: Improve indoor air quality by as much as 52 per cent by removing dirt, dander, pollen, mould, spores.

Sealed ductwork: Cuts leaks to give adequate and balanced heating and cooling air flow.

On-demand hot water: Tankless hot water heater that operates at a fuel efficiency of 20 to 30 per cent higher than usual tanks and its smaller size frees up floor space.

Drain water heat recovery: Ninety per cent of energy used to heat water in a home goes down the drain. Recapturing some and using it to preheat cold fresh water can save 25 to 40 per cent.

Energy Recovery Vent: Recovers heat and moisture from stale air exhausted from home and uses it to preheat and humidify fresh incoming air.

Tags: Canada