As part of the 2023 Calgary Eco-Solar Home Tours, a collection of energy-efficient household owners in Airdrie, Balzac, and Bragg Creek will be welcoming the public through their doors this weekend for a day of free tours and information sessions.
Airdronians interested in learning more about what it takes to renovate households to become more energy efficient are encouraged to attend the free tours, which take place on both Saturday and Sunday.
Edmonton-based non-profit Eco-Solar Home Tours Society has been organizing tours of energy-efficient homes in the Alberta capital since the early 2000s. In 2019, the organization expanded its tours to the Calgary region for the first time.
For more info on this weekend's tours, including addresses, times, and what tour-goers should expect, visit EcoSolar.ca
Below is a written submission from the Bollard family, and their journey to retro-fit their Chinook Winds home to become net-zero:
My husband Adrian and I built our first house in Airdrie in 2018. As a newly married couple, we were excited to grow our lives together, starting with the place to call home.
Adrian has long been an advocate for the environment and green energy, but we both wanted the future we strove toward to be a place of sustainability and comfort. We also wanted our home to reflect these values.
Although we didn't start with a completely bare canvas – our builder, Excel Homes, had their own 'Built Green' energy template – there was space for us to incorporate some extras we needed toward our ultimate goal of a net-zero home.
We picked out our countertops and flooring one week and had the builder add extra insulation under the slab (R13) and in the attic the next, bringing our attic from R50 to R60. Excel also provided the rough-ins for a solar array, which we made the first big purchase of our new home.
We have 33 panels (10.5 KW DC) installed by Skyfire, which provides most of the electricity needed to power both our home and our electric vehicle. These efforts alone have saved us thousands in fuel and utility costs already. Whenever we have an especially sunny day, I get happy face emojis along with a screenshot of that day's solar production.
Adrian continues to improve upon our home's energy efficiency. After sealing gaps throughout the building envelope, last winter, we started adding extra insulation to our interior feature walls; 1.5" of 'Rockwool Comfortboard' beneath a bright white shiplap now highlights the main entrance. The unique nature of Rockwool is that it's fire-proof, sound-proof, and doesn't "off-gas." Drywall can be used to cover Rockwool, along with many unique wall treatments such as fluted wall panels. The next two walls-in-progress are the office and master suite. Our most recent blower door test revealed 1.05 air changes per hour.
The biggest change to our home in 2022 was the removal of our gas connection and the addition of an air-source heat pump. Our Daikin cold-climate air-source heat pump is up to 370 per cent efficient (1 KWh of energy provides almost 4 KWh of heating) and both efficiently heat and cool our home. When temperatures drop below -20 C, a plenum electric heater kicks in to keep our house toasty and warm.
Future projects include adding additional solar. We were excited to learn that a new north-facing panel will produce 90 per cent of what our current south-facing panels produce. The additional solar – bringing our total solar output to over 20 MWh/year – will take us the last step to a net-zero lifestyle, providing enough power for our all-electric home and the 50,000 kilometres we drive annually in our Tesla.
Adrian remains passionate about green energy solutions and is excited to continue his involvement in the Eco-Solar Home Tours in 2023. In an effort to advance his knowledge and provide energy solutions to other like-minded individuals, he most recently completed his certification as a building energy advisory.
—Submitted by Sherry and Adrian Bollard