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POWERFUL NEW HOME ENGINEERING DESIGN HAS CREATED A SUPERHOUSE -- A HOME that is light years ahead of conventional designs for residences.

"We gave our suppliers basic specifications, then told them to do better," says John Hochman of Appin Associates of Winnipeg, one of the designers of 'the house for the 21st century', "and they did."

Part of a national program sponsored by Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, the design of the SuperHouse is to reduce total energy consumption in a single-family dwelling -- from construction right through to waste disposal.

It's projected the home will use about one-quarter of the energy used in a home built to 1975 standards, and about one-half that of a home built to the R-2000 Home Program requirements. In dollars and cents, that means space heating and electrical bills will be about $300 instead of the $1,200 many homeowners now pay.

"This is the way houses will be built in about five years," says Frank Curtis, president of the Manitoba Home Builders Association, which acted as general contractor for the project.

There are innovations but they aren't mind-boggling, requiring an engineer's degree to comprehend. Probably the most technologically advanced parts of the house are the windows -- they're rated at R-12, which is about the same insulation in the walls of most existing houses. "They're the most energy-efficient windows in the world," says Al Dueck, marketing manager for Willmar Windows, who designed and produced these 'super windows.'

The windows are comprised of two panes of glass, one of which is coated with a low-emissivity film. Between the panes are two films of Heat Mirror 88, which blocks transmission of both infrared (heat) and ultraviolet light. The space between the glass is filled with krypton gas, which blocks heat transmission.

There's also a 94-per cent efficient natural gas heating system, which also heats domestic hot water. The house is divided into three heating zones, with emphasis placed on passive solar heat gain.

Because the house is so well-insulated -- with R-40 in walls and R-60 in the ceiling -- there's no need for air-conditioning. "In fact, that was one of our requirements," says Gary Proskiw, of Proskiw Engineering Ltd. of Winnipeg, who drew up technical specifications for the house.

The house will be operated as a demonstration home for a year, allowing both the public and builders to see it in operation. An extensive information transfer process will be undertaken to describe construction methods to the building industry. After this, the house will be sold and monitored for another year under actual living conditions, to see how a family's lifestyle affects energy consumption.

Those living in the home will be able to monitor their electrical use via a read-out panel which shows current and cumulative use of electricity. This has been shown to reduce consumption by about 20 per cent because residents become aware of how much energy is being used.

Recycling was a major consideration in the design and construction of the Advanced House -- up to 25-per-cent of waste in landfill sites is construction related. The amount of waste generated by the project was carefully measured. Only 3,300 pounds of waste material was actually sent to landfill compared to the approximately 6,000 pounds of waste generated using conventional construction methods.

Recycling was also considered when it came time to back-fill around the foundation. Instead of using only pea gravel over the weeping tiles -- the conventional process -- about 30 per cent of the fill was from glass bottles. "We just dumped the bottles into a concrete mixer along with the gravel and ran it for about five minutes," says Proskiw. "The mix was excellent, and provides better drainage."

Another innovation was to run ductwork from the attic to the basement. Sensors turn on a fan when attic temperatures rise, and pull hot air downwards to be used to pre-heat incoming water, saving on domestic hot water heating.

While there are literally dozens of "new and improved" techniques or products in the Advanced House, it doesn't look any different from its neighbors -- it's just more comfortable to live in. It also demonstrates that 'less is more,' when it comes to energy consumption.

The challenge will be in encouraging the building trades and manufacturers to design, produce and build housing components which use energy far more wisely than they have to date.

If Manitoba's SuperHouse is any indication of what can be achieved with regard to energy efficiency, then the face of Canadian housing will change dramatically.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Manitoba Business Ltd.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:planned efficient intelligent house
Author:Park, Kip
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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