Net Zero homes in Alberta

CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭

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  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,079Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    Don't have an issue with more insulation and 4 pane windows--however:
    ...wood stove instead of a furnace...

    Does not gain any points for a large urban area--we are trying to help people learn not to burn their trees and improve their environment... Not including the issue of pollution (wonder what kind of wood burner they are using).

    Here is the website for one of the homes (Mill Creek NetZero Home). Going to take awhile to read through the site.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    Wood stoves aren't as bad as you might think. For one thing, the fuel is renewable, and can be waste-wood product. Plus modern stoves are far more efficient burners than the old fire-in-a-can designs. Particulate emissions have been greatly reduced.

    But I can't see them as a good urban choice either: for one thing, storing a sufficient amount of wood takes a lot of space. And there are maintenance issues. But I won't go along with the anti-environment-environmentalists we have in BC who claim most of our pollution is due to wood stoves in the Interior and not the fossil fuel burning cities. You can see the difference when you drive down out of the mountains and into the Fraser Valley smog.

    What would be a good heat source for urban homes? Eventually we'll be up against no fossil fuel at all. Maybe we'll be on alcohol stoves or have to construct methane plants - which is what natural gas mostly is, and it can be made from waste material.

    This house design sure has a lot of good ideas, though. I particularly like the solar awning. :D

    My wife & I went to the Country Living Show this weekend: lots of log home builders (inefficient use of wood in my opinion) and lots of solar sales companies. It definitely is becoming more popular and practical, although many still miss the cost factor. I noticed the other day the B&B down the road from us has a sign up: "Solar Powered". Goes with the big array out back of their barn!
  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,079Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    I have posted links here before about wood gasification stoves/furnaces... And they seem to be very efficient and relatively clean burning.

    But average wood burning in a home is not clean... In the SF Bay Area, where wood burning is seldom done in the metropolitan area--wood burning for home heating is something like the #1 or #2 cause of particulate pollution in our area (diesel vehicles share the top spot). I am sure much of it is by people using fireplaces and older wood stoves--but even a small fraction of users is causing some 20% of our winter air pollution (IIRC--specifically small particulate pollution).

    I agree that a few wood burners are not going to cause much trouble (as in this case, we are only talking about a half dozen homes in Canada)... However, if 100% of the home and office heating was done with wood (which would seem to be the "only" direction that gets politically approved or green washed)--I cringe at the thought.

    It was "The Killer Fog of 1952" that got people to even think about changing from burning coal.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    i think i'm with bill on the issue of wood burning. there is only one in my suburban area that i am aware of and it stinks up a good 1/2 mile square. i could not imagine there being a dozen of them going at once as to what it would result in, let alone being any kind of majority heat source for the 8000 or so residents of my town of about a square mile.(no i don't own it) i still wouldn't mind doing it here in a supplementary capacity, but due to the costs and safety factors that would apply, i can't do it and there are other priorities. luckilly, there would be fewer catching any of the smoke that it would spew from my loacation. i did use a fireplace here at one time, but i have blocked it off when i realized i was losing more than i gained. long story to explain circumstances.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    Anybody who doesn't think particulate matter pollution is a problem should read up on 1816 - "The year without a summer". That was caused by volcano. I suspect our weird winter this year might be linked to increasing suspended particles in the atmosphere.

    Another 'down' to this house is the cost: $100,000 over a conventional design. Care to guess the payback time on that? Of course a house is expected to last more than 10 years so ... long term, it's better. But we surely can't afford to tear down a rebuild all the houses! Retrofitting wouldn't achieve these results, and would probably cost even more on a returned energy savings basis.

    Mostly I think the project shows the need to think about house design more, and not just slap up another couple dozen of some architect's one-size-fits-all plans. I'd love to see a community built with really 'green' plans.

    It snowed here again yesterday. What is this world coming to? :confused:
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta
    niel wrote: »
    i think i'm with bill on the issue of wood burning. there is only one in my suburban area that i am aware of and it stinks up a good 1/2 mile square. i could not imagine there being a dozen of them going at once as to what it would result in, let alone being any kind of majority heat source for the 8000 or so residents of my town of about a square mile.(no i don't own it) i still wouldn't mind doing it here in a supplementary capacity, but due to the costs and safety factors that would apply, i can't do it and there are other priorities. luckilly, there would be fewer catching any of the smoke that it would spew from my loacation. i did use a fireplace here at one time, but i have blocked it off when i realized i was losing more than i gained. long story to explain circumstances.

    Hey! Wood smoke smells GOOD! :D
    I have a blocked-off fireplace too: same reason. They are real energy wasters.
    Also, wood stoves are too complicated for most people to handle. It's not exactly "set and forget" technology.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,079Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta
    Mostly I think the project shows the need to think about house design more, and not just slap up another couple dozen of some architect's one-size-fits-all plans. I'd love to see a community built with really 'green' plans.

    Actually, I think "one size fits all" manufactured homes are going to be one of the answers to "really green" building.

    Factory built homes that are trucked and final assembled on site are the only way you will get consistent (and proven) energy efficiency on a large scale.

    If we had to use architects and local contractors to achieve green--It is not not going to happen. Too many variables, too much waste (time and money) in stick building, too many ways to "fail" at achieving ongoing energy efficiency.

    May not make a "pretty" neighborhood (certainly, factory built homes do not need to all look identical)--but no more Victorian energy pigs / leaky roof / fire traps / Frank Lloyld Wright unlivable - unmaintainable - unsafe beauties either .

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Posts: 17,615Banned ✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    Sure, Bill. As long as they first learn the lesson that the right house for one part of the country isn't necessarily right for another. They haven't done that yet. And woe unto us all if we end up living in "little boxes made of ticky-tacky" as Pete Seeger foretold.

    But factory-built designs that can be properly adapted for site variations would be good.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta

    "Frank Lloyld Wright"!!!!!!!

    funny you should mention him as he designed 'falling water' which isn't all that far away from here(a few counties away). one of the local stations here reported last year that they had to do major maintenance there because the guy designed this over water, which is predictably destructive on manmade stuff. you just don't put a house over water like that. so guess who's blessed with an underground stream not far below ground level?:roll: i can't blame the builders as i believe this developed after the homes here were well established. it might be a mine runoff problem as there are old mine shafts up on the hill behind me as this area was rich in coal and was one of the reasons the steel industry started in pittsburgh. few of them are left now, but andrew carnegie's first steel mill site is still a steel mill located about 2-3 miles to my ese now known as the edgar thomson steel works of united states steel, now usx. i think that's also about where general braddock crossed the mon river(also i believe refered to as moon river in a song) with our soon to be first president george washington. it amazes me how much history is located within a few miles of me and yet there's not one single museum or tourist shop to commemorate any of it. i have also been inside the first carnegie free library in the united states many times in my youth. if it's still there it is severely in disrepair. oops, too far off topic. i stop.
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,967Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Net Zero homes in Alberta
    BB. wrote: »
    Factory built homes that are trucked and final assembled on site are the only way you will get consistent (and proven) energy efficiency on a large scale.

    But the cost of the increased Tornadoes may offset that a lot. Placing more tornado magnets around will hurt everyone, if the tornado does not "skip" properly to the next trailer park.
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