The One Planet Reno project set out to create a beautiful and functional family home for four, complete with a home office, while simultaneously minimizing the ecological footprint of construction and eliminating carbon emissions from operations. The comprehensive renovation of a neglected century-old home was chosen as the basis for the project, limiting the area of new additions in order to minimize embodied energy.
By Scott Demark
Main design ideas
The owners used the guiding principles of the ‘One Planet Living’ program [www.oneplanetliving.org], and the Passive House standard for energy performance. LEED for Homes Platinum certification was achieved through a holistic approach to sustainable design that included the following strategies:
• Orient and fenestrate for control of solar gains and optimization of daylight.
• Super-insulate and use a ‘passive before active’ approach to energy design.
• Minimize the ecological footprint of the construction and operation of the house.
• Choose materials and finishes that result in healthy and inspiring interior and exterior living spaces.
Balancing the constraints of One Planet Living and Passive House standards with the desire for beauty and function presented numerous challenges.
For example: Having a narrow city lot, using walls from the original house, and achieving R55, but avoiding an ugly, spray foam, windowless box; harvesting solar energy, but still having sunny spaces for recreation and food production.; retaining elements of the original house to reduce embodied energy and respect the vernacular, but requiring an air-tight envelope; reusing and repurposing building elements [with the associated additional labour cost], while respecting a project budget; and requiring a solar power plant, but not wanting active solar to define the architecture.
The story behind this project is as compelling as the building itself. The design team looked at almost every green building metric and made an earnest attempt to incorporate the best of each in a truly holistic approach to sustainable design. The result takes a standard Ontario residential prototype and updates it in an engaging and sometimes quirky way. The energy performance in particular is exemplary.
Architect Carolyn Jones, Tobias Fellows, Daniel Pearl and Simon Jones
Project Manager BuildGreen Solutions
General Contractor Botan Construction Ltd.
Mechanical Designer EcoGen Energy
Structural Engineer Halsall Associates
Other Contributor Malcom Isaacs
Photos Christian Lalonde
– Fiberglass frame windows by Inline Fiberglass
– ROXUL SAFE‘n’SOUND® stone wool insulation used in all 2×3 inner walls, in the 2×6 cavities of all new walls, and in the 16” I-joist space at the roof; also spray foam insulation and polyisocyanurate panels, Mem-Brain vapour barrier by CertainTeed on the inside of all new load-bearing walls before 2×3 inner walls
– Floors: poured in-place concrete and re-claimed custom milled ash from barns; millwork from re-claimed wood or salvaged from the original house
– Photovoltaic panels and solar heating panels; PAUL NOVUS 300 energy recovery ventilator [ERV] supplied by Zehnder America ; rainwater recovery system
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