Representatives of the developer

‘Living lab’ project under construction in Kelowna

Two similar houses, one with a host of energy-saving features, are being built and will be monitored for three years by UBCO.

The “home of tomorrow” is being built today in Kelowna—and it’s being build in a subdivision full of regular homes.

The developer of Wilden, in the Glenmore highlands, Blenk Development Corp., has teamed up with UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College, FortisBC and builder AuthenTech Homes to create what it is being dubbed a “living lab.”

The 3,000-square-foot rancher, using the latest energy-efficient methods of construction, appliances and technology, is being built beside a similar home that will be built only to the latest B.C. building code specifications.

The two houses will include sensors and monitors that will allow UBCO researchers to monitor energy use in both houses over a three-year period and compare them, with the aim of learning more about the future of homebuilding, energy conservation and sustainable construction. The results of the monitoring will be made public on a regular basis via a website.

“For our company, the Living Lab is a groundbreaking partnership that will greatly contribute to the future of home building,” said Karin Eger-Blenk of Blenk Development Corp.

The two up-scale homes homes, both ranchers with 1,600-square feet on the main level and 1,400-square-foot basements, will be sold at market value to buyers—preferably two similar sized families—who are wiling to be participate in the three-year study.

The “home of today,” as the one built to current building code standards has been dubbed, will include a natural gas furnace, standard plumbing fixtures and appliances, double-pane windows, incandescent lighting, insulation levels that include R-22 in the walls and R-40 in the ceilings.

The “home of tomorrow” next door will be built the same general B.C. construction standards but include additional features such as insulated foundations, a geothermal heat pump, water-saving toilets and faucets, triple-pane windows, photovoltaic solar panels, net metering, ICF wall construction, LED lighting and insulation levels including R-24 in the walls and R-70 in the ceiling.

Scott Tyerman of AuthenTech Homes, which is building the two houses with the help of Okanagan College construction students, said the home of tomorrow will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 more to build because of the added features.

But he said, with the introduction of the latest B.C. building code last year, construction standards are already quite a bit  higher now in the this province when it comes to mandatory energy conservation measures than in the past.

While Okanagan College is helping build the homes and the project is giving 17 of its students hands-on experience in construction, UBCO will handle the monitoring once the houses are built. Completion of both houses is expected by the end of the summer or early fall.

UBCO associate professor Shahria Alam,  who is leading the monitoring effort, said in addition to helping provide information for new home construction, the results will also help owners of existing homes to determine ways to retrofit their properties to take advantage of energy-saving measures.

The UBCO living lab is believed to be one of the first projects of its kind in Canada.











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