A high performance home utilizes design, construction processes, methods, materials and technologies that prioritizes energy efficiency, sustainability and durability. The result of building a high performance home is typically a Net Zero and/or Net Zero Ready home. Net Zero homes produce as much clean energy as they consume and are up to 80% more energy efficient than typical new homes. Net Zero homes achieve this level of high performance through thoughtful design, high insulation, excellent airtightness, high performance windows and doors, controlled ventilation, and energy efficient mechanical systems and appliances. Net Zero Ready homes are built to the same standards as a NetZero home, but the only difference being the renewable energy system such as solar panels have not yet been installed. They would however, be designed and constructed to readily install solar panels at any point after the build.
The Province of British Columbia has committed to increasing the energy efficiency of buildings to help reduce our carbon footprint. To do this, the province has implemented the BC Step Code program which is regulation that sets performance targets for new construction incrementally or in “steps”, to aid the construction industry's transition towards the higher demands of the upper steps of the program. By 2032, the target is for all new construction to be Net Zero Ready at “Step Code 5”. Until then, it is up to local governments and jurisdictions to implement the energy step code program and the rate in which they move up the step code until the mandated 2032 Step Code 5 deadline.
These energy requirements are a new performance-based approach rather than a prescriptive approach traditionally used in the industry prior to the BC Step Code program. The performance approach establishes the desired target outcome of a number of energy performance metrics and leaves it to the discretion of the designer and builder to decide how to achieve it.
As of 2023, most jurisdictions are at either step code 2 or 3, with some set to implement step code 4 in the coming years. To incentivize homeowners and designers/builders to build higher performing homes, some municipalities have density bonuses for projects committing to a higher step code.
It has become our standard throughout the design build process to make your project as high performing as possible. Our clients will experience a seamless process of design, construction techniques and best practices for achieving a high performance home, no matter what the current legislated targets are for the jurisdiction of the subject property. We’re ahead of the curve! We believe its important to deliver high performance homes to our clients even before province legislated deadlines because your home is a long term investment and the benefits are:
With performance-based metrics to evaluate a home’s energy performance, there isn’t one one way to achieve a high performance home. The BC Step Code performance metrics are:
It is important for high performance homes to be airtight in order to control and restrict the movement of air. Air is a transport mechanism for water, vapour, heat energy, and airborne contaminants. An airtight home will prevent uncontrolled heat loss from the building and therefore reduce the energy demand of the home’s mechanical systems. Furthermore, water vapour carried by air movement when uncontrolled, can cause damage to the building enclosure due to the risk of condensation when warm air leaks and comes into contact with a colder surface. Moisture accumulation inside the building enclosure can lead to mould and premature deterioration of building components.
Mechanical Energy Use Intensity
This metric measures the annual energy consumption of the building’s mechanical systems - space heating and cooling, ventilation and domestic hot water.
Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI)
TEDI represents the annual heating energy that is needed for the floor area of a building. Many factors impact TEDI such as wall/ceiling/floor assemblies, size/shape/orientation of the building, solar heat gain from the size/orientation/performance ratings of windows, and
As a Design Build firm, Novell is able to take a holistic approach to achieving a high performance home build. From the design stage, we’ll study the site to determine ideal size, shape and orientation of the building to maximize the impact of the solar path of the site. We’re able to advise clients of ideal locations or sizes of windows, spaces or uses to correspond with the site’s unique characteristics. In the design stage, we’re also able to advise ideal assemblies, materials/products and identify potential areas of interest where further detailing would be required to ensure we meet the energy.
Once we get into construction, we have designated our Site Supervisor, Angelito as our “Air boss” to make sure an airtightness plan is in place and strictly followed by our crews and sub-trades. We make sure areas and penetrations at risk for air leakage are properly sealed.
Ready to build a high-performance home?
As a design-build professional, ensuring thoughtfulness in solutions and creating meaningful spaces requires a mindful approach. Homes matter, and at Novell, we want the design-build work that we do to matter and be meaningful to homeowners for years to come.