October 24, 2011
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Today our groups performed our walkthrough audits for the Energy Efficiency and the Built Environment project. Our house that we audited was only a couple years old and was quite energy efficient already. We were armed with some pretty sophisticated tools and a great set of checklists that we prepared.
Dan Boyd from the Nova Scotia Homebuilders Association was on hand to perform the blower door test for us. The home we audited previously tested at 1.4 air changes per hour (ACH) but we won’t know how it faired out today until we get the data entered into HOT2000.
We tested the envelope of the building with the thermal imaging gun to look for thermal bridges. We found lots at the studs in the walls and the ceiling, as well as all along the headers and rim joists. Thermal bridges are pathways where heat escapes and are common in standard construction. Modern construction methods are working to eliminate them all together but not all builders are using them right now. We didn’t find any missing insulation or sagging around the windows.
We used an air quality meter to measure temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels on each floor. This will help us determine how effective the ventilation system is. The home has a heat recovery ventilator to reclaim the heat during the ventilation process.
The lighting was quite different throughout the house. We found compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen, as well as incandescent bulbs depending on what fixture we were looking at. We will recommend that the incandescent bulbs be replaced with CFLs.
South is located to the rear of the home and there is an excellent solar resource there. We will be creating a model for a solar system to determine the payback before we make that recommendation. I expect it will be feasible because of the location and the number of occupants (the more people the more hot water used). We will also look into using a drain water heat recovery system to reclaim heat from the drain water.
Water efficiency on the inside of the house was given attention when the home was designed, but the exterior could have some improvements. There are a lot of plants outside so a rain barrel to capture rainwater for watering would reduce potable water usage. Mulch should also be added around the shrubs to reduce evaporation from the soil and hopefully reduce the need for additional watering.
The heating system is about as good as it can get. The owner has an air source heat pump with an electric furnace for a backup. Since the subdivision was blasted out of the side of a rock mountain a ground source heat pump would be too much of an expense to be worth it.
Tomorrow we will start to sift through all the data we collected and come up with some more ideas for low cost or no cost recommendations for the home owner.
October 12, 2011
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The first phase of the Energy Efficiency and the Built Environment (EEBE) program with NSCC International will take place in Halifax, NS. I will be based out of the NSCC Waterfront Campus in Dartmouth during that time. We will be joined by students from Hanze University in the Netherlands and IT Carlow in Ireland. The 3 week project will be to perform complete energy audits of 2 habitat for humanity homes in the area. We will be broken into teams and each team will be assigned a house. We will visit the home to perform the physical audit and use tools like thermal imaging guns and a blower door. We will take measurements so that we can create an energy model using HOT2000, which is free software from Natural Resources Canada. The software will allow us to add upgrades and determine how they will affect the energy performance of the building. We will also be checking the houses against the LEED for Homes checklist to see how well they line up with some of the broader green strategies beyond energy efficiency. At the end of the 3 weeks we will prepare a report and presentation of our findings and recommendations.
Outside of the project work we will have some presentations and tours included in the 3 week period. We will tour Thermodynamics Ltd who manufacture solar panels for hot water heating. We will also be touring the Efficiency Nova Scotia demonstration homes built by Denim Homes. The new Halifax Seaport Farmers Market is also on our list.
William Marshall from Equilibrium Engineering will be training us on HOT2000. I’ve been trained already but I am looking forward to refreshing my knowledge. We will also hear presentations from Josh MacLean from Efficiency NS, Allan Read from ITCarlow, and Gualdino Duarte Pais from Hanze University.
This project will be my life for the next 3 weeks. I am fortunate to have instructors at my home campus in Middleton who are willing to meet me half way and allow me the to be away from classes for 3 weeks. I will still be responsible for the material covered during that time but will not have to attend classes.
Our teams will start each day at 8:30 am and work as long as it takes to complete the project. Outside of the project work we aim to be good hosts to our Irish and Dutch guests! We’ll be introducing them to some of what Nova Scotia has to offer culturally, and we will be meeting them at the hostel first thing on Monday to show them the way to school on the first day.