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Bedford Road project

Making super-efficient construction a family affair

Project details 

​Location: ​Nelson
​Building type: ​triplex
​Floor space: ​2,400 sq. ft.
​Target energy rating: ​Passive House certification

Project team

Designer:
Builder:
Developer​:

Lukas Armstrong, design + consulting
Local Design/Build
2-Stroke Painting and Contracting Ltd

 

​A medium-density, intergenerational building, the Bedford Road project in Nelson has addressed the ideas of durability, toxicity, budget, aging in place, small-space design and the creation of warm, natural spaces using solid, real materials. In fact, the design/build team and their families are the clients for this super-efficient building.

The designer/builder has been interested in super-efficient construction for many years and chose to use the Passive House design methodology, which is the most aggressive energy efficiency standard currently available in the world, to reach the SENC efficiency requirements. “A benefit of the Passive House framework is that it’s non-prescriptive and site specific,” states Lukas Armstrong, developer of the Bedford Road Project. “This provides a platform for designers and builders to develop their own assemblies and details, as long as they meet the strict energy load and air exchange requirements.”

Complex requirements create unique design opportunities

Designed to maximize the use of natural passive energy, the building site is oriented to optimize sun access and will have solar thermal panels. It will also have an on-demand, tankless boiler and an HRV mechanical ventilation system to allow for healthy levels of air exchange without significant heat loss.

The following are other high-efficiency features of the building:

  • The walls, floor and ceiling insulation will be approximated R72 and will use wet blown cellulose and mineral wool.
  • A triple stud frame system will be used for the walls, with the two outer walls separated to create an approximately 14 inch thick insulated wall. The inside surface of this wall will hold the vapour barrier, while a third insulated stud-frame called the installation cavity will be inside this wall so electrical and other services can be run without penetrating the vapour barrier.
  • A leaky home bleeds energy, so careful attention will be paid to the vapour barrier to ensure the air leakage rate remains below 0.6 air changes per hour (ACH), which is the maximum allowed by the Passive House framework (standard construction typically achieves between 3-6 ACH).
  • Exterior spaces will be designed to increase the livable space of the building and allow for the design of relatively small suites (e.g. each suite will have an enclosed solarium on the south side of the building).
  • Construction materials are readily available through local distributors, with an emphasis on using solid materials such as SPF BC lumber, unpainted galvalume steel and concrete to improve indoor air quality and increase the building’s lifespan.

Lessons learned from the cutting edge

For Armstrong, this project underscores the many benefits of hiring professionals with proven experience and allocating funds for design.

“The science of super-efficient construction has evolved and creating a successful, economically feasible project requires a careful balance of strategies,” notes Armstrong. “Not all budgets, sites and clients are the same and the approach must be carefully tuned to each project. Using a qualified designer will help optimize your construction dollars and ultimately save money.”

Upon completion, this project will give the development team a clear idea of the costs of Passive House construction in British Columbia and enable them to accurately price projects for other clients. “It’s hoped this project will demonstrate that high quality buildings can be competitive with standard construction when all factors are properly balanced,” says Armstrong.

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