First “living building” house underway
June 20, 2019
A “living building” house that will generate at least five times as much energy as it consumes is under construction in Vancouver. If it meets international standards, it would be the first private home ever registered in Canada as Living Building Challenge project—one of only a handful in the world.
The house could produce seven times the energy it needs to operate, estimates architect Jay Lin of HCMA Architecture of Vancouver, who is working with Insightful Healthy Homes Inc. on the project.
Insightful was awarded the Georgie Award this year for best environmental initiative by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC for an energy-efficient house the company built in North Vancouver. But company president Arthur Lo said his latest creation takes sustainable home building to a new level.
The house of more than 5,000 square feet in Vancouver’s exclusive Southland neighbourhood easily surpasses the net-zero energy standards of Natural Resources Canada, which requires a home to use less energy than it produces, Lo said. It is equipped with an array of 36 rooftop photovoltaic solar panels, solar heated water, heat-recovery ventilators and drain water heat recovery systems.
The Living Building Challenge, from the Seattle, Washington-based International Living Future Institute, is the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. A key aspect is that the building is self-sustaining.
Only one other project in Vancouver—an addition to the VanDusen Botanical Garden—attempted to meet the Living Building Challenge but it ultimately failed to achieve registration.
Two other projects—both on Vancouver Island—also fell short of the challenge, according to Michael Berrisford, editor-in-chief of Ecotone Publishing, the publications division of the International Living Future Institute.
The Insightful house, once completed, would be monitored to see if it qualifies for Living Building designation.