s I sit and contemplate this article from the coziness of my studio, I can`t help but be excited in a small way to see a layer of white down scattered freshly on my rooftop. Together with my layer of soil forming my roof top garden, this new layer of winter is providing yet another layer of insulation from the elements. And this brings me to discuss the new BC Building Code which is fast upon us December 20th and a subsequent addition to it in the spring which will address energy upgrades to all new construction. The net result of this new energy code will be layers. Layers of new insulation, just like dressing up for the elements. This new code will likely include an entire mandated layer of exterior ‘outsulation’. This will be required for all homes in order to achieve a minimum true R-20 for wall insulation. Currently even some of the best methods of insulation only provide about R-17 because so
much energy is lost through each of those wood studs that are placed on 16`centers in typical construction. The new outsulation will not only top up the required R-Value but when properly installed, will give the home an integral air and moisture barrier on the entire outside, much like the coveted Hudson Bay blanket we are so used to using at the hearthside this time of year. This new code will certainly increase housing costs so many of you may want to consider the efficiency of ICF`s (insulated Concrete Forms) and some of the prefabricated wall systems being produced locally by companies such as Pacific Building Systems. They offer staggered wall systems and even pre-insulated 2`x 8`framed wall sections that offer R-Value exceeding R-30 for walls. The increased costs of these panels are somewhat off set by savings in construction labour. The big bonus is the true value of such shop built panels that are built under exacting standards
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and therefore perform extremely well once assembled.The new building code will also be addressing seismic concerns to strengthen the new homes being built in this earthquake prone region. That will likely mean less glass or at least smaller windows more strategically placed to optimise daylight, solar gain and views while still providing strength in the structure. So the new desire for that modern West Coast look is again going to come at a premium as well. That being said, make those smaller windows the best you can
find. Low E (Low Emissivity) and Argon gas are now the base product. Consider triple glazing even. The increased performance may take some time to recover in terms of initial investment but with a shelf life of thirty years or more, one can only imagine what energy could cost us in the years to come. This winter at least, stay warm, stay dry. David Coulson is a local certified Built Green design builder. He has a staff of 25 that have built throughout the Island for over 20 years.
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