The GREEN Team
by Bernard Desjardins
How can new home owners dramatically reduce their impact on the environment while practically eliminating ongoing energy costs? Working with Tight Lines Productions Ltd., the Kenny Group, the Bosch Group and others, Maple Leaf Homes has found the answer in the EcoPlusHome.
In December 2009, Bryan Kenny, his wife Renée and children Tyler (15), Grayson (13), Shane (9) and Olivia (7) moved into North America’s first EcoPlusHome—built by New Brunswick’s Maple Leaf Homes to demonstrate that over the course of a year, an attractive, comfortable home inhabited by a typical family could generate as much or more energy than the occupants consumed.
For the next year, the Kenny family will enjoy the comfort and convenience of the unique EcoPlusHome, spending little and eventually nothing on energy while the technology gradually pays for itself through the savings it offers. It is expected that the house will eventually produce more energy than it uses, possibly to the extent that an electric car could be operated using the surplus electricity. Excess energy can also be transmitted onto the public grid—energy credited in the summer months would allow the Kenny family to live comfortably in the house even on the coldest days of a Canadian winter and still achieve a positive energy balance.
“Even before the PV [photovoltaic] system was connected, I noticed a sharp decrease in electrical consumption compared with the home we lived in before,” says Bryan. He attributes the savings in part to the extremely high-quality thermal envelope of the factory-built home and to the high-efficiency Bosch appliances.
Maple Leaf Homes is collaborating with Tight Lines Productions Ltd., the Kenny Group (no relation to the Kenny family), the Bosch Group and others on the EcoPlusHome. Built at the Maple Leaf Homes factory in Fredericton, New Brunswick and transported to the Squire Green subdivision in Bathurst, the modular building arrived on-site and was assembled the same day. Interior and exterior finishing, and installation of the state-of-the-art energy technology was completed within just another two weeks.
As a homebuilder with experience in Germany and North America, Tight Lines President Axel Lerche has researched advanced, environmentally friendly housing, gathering theoretical information that inspired him to apply existing technology to the construction of an actual home. He notes that the Bosch Group was able to provide the full range of primary energy technologies used in the EcoPlusHome.
The EcoPlusHome combines the high quality of factory-built housing with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient technology,” says Maple Leaf Homes Sales Manager Jacques Roy. He explains the many advantages of building in a factory setting—exceptional control of construction processes, professional coordination of a highly skilled team of technicians, craftsmen and assemblers, and thorough inspection of all aspects of construction. Indoor manufacture avoids complications arising from adverse weather conditions, for timely and efficient assembly. Savings resulting from superior inventory control and economies of scale related to high-volume purchase of materials can be passed on to the consumer, and these homes can also be completely customized to allow for the unique needs and style preferences of any customer.
Members of the Kenny family have eagerly adopted a lifestyle that will reduce their individual carbon footprints, preserving the environment for future generations. However, Mr. Kenny emphasizes the fact that they are living exactly as they did in their previous home, without modifying any of their personal habits. In Jacques’ words, “the EcoPlusHome is a testament to Maple Leaf Homes’ ongoing commitment to help protect our environment and to offer our customers a clean, healthy and energy-efficient product.”
As the EcoPlusHome project progresses, the production and consumption of electricity will be monitored and the data made available on-line at www.ecoplushome.com. For information on factory-built homes and to find a factory builder in your area, visit the Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute website at www.cmhi.ca.
ECOPLUSHOME GREEN ENERGY FEATURES
- Factory-based construction, resulting in minimal material waste, for example
- Triple-glazed, low-E krypton gas windows
- Photovoltaic (PV) panels, generating electricity without producing CO2
- Ground-source heat pump, powered by the PV panels
- Solar thermal system, providing Domestic Hot Water and augmenting the heat pump system
- 2-inch polystyrene insulation on exterior walls, increasing the R-value
- R-50 attic insulation
- Energy-efficient appliances, including oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer