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30 Years of Leadership

By Gary Sharp

R-2000 turns 30 this year. As the updated 2012 R-2000 Standard is about to be implemented on July 1, 2012, it is only fitting that this should also be Canada Day.
The R-2000 Standard and R-2000 houses are something the Canadian home building industry and Canadians everywhere can be proud of. R-2000 led the world in energy efficient housing in 1982 and it steps up again in 2012. R-2000 is a housing system developed by Canadian builders, researchers, manufacturers and government which made Canadian housing technology the most advanced in the world. Every energy efficiency housing program in the world that has followed has been based on R-2000 “house as a system” thinking.

The key elements of R-2000 were, and remain:
• A Technical Standard that sets out stringent energy performance targets
• Builder training and licensing
• A quality assurance system to evaluate, inspect and test every house
• A sophisticated computer modelling program to evaluate each home for optimal energy performance.
The R-2000 Standard is a dynamic standard. Canadian builders, product manufacturers and researchers are an ingenious lot. To meet the stringent targets of R-2000, improved building techniques, new construction materials and more efficient mechanical systems were developed and implemented. What appeared to be lofty goals in 1982 were met, through hard work and creativity, and today, every house in Canada has elements in it that were developed through R-2000.
To keep R-2000 on the forefront of housing technology, the Standard is periodically reviewed and updated. The 2012 R-2000 Standard is 50 per cent more energy efficient than the 2005 R-2000 Standard. In terms of Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System, this means that a house built to the 2005 Standard will score 80, while a house built to the 2012 Standard will score approximately 86 or higher.
It’s not easy to build houses that meet the R-2000 Standard. It’s even more surprising when you realize that R-2000 is a voluntary Standard. These are builders who choose to build R-2000 homes. Companies that build and certify their houses to the R-2000 Standard are making a statement about the homes they build.
Two such companies are Urbandale Construction of Ottawa, Ont. and Scotian Homes of Enfield, N.S. Each of these builders has completed, and opened to the public, houses that meet the 2012 R-2000 Standard. Urbandale opened its house on February 16, 2012 and Scotian on April 13, 2012. Both are well ahead of the planned July 1, 2012 implementation date for the updated Standard.
What makes an R-2000 house special? It is all based on the “house as a system”— the core belief of R-2000.

The key components of the “house as a system” include:
• The environment where the house is constructed. The climate varies significantly across • • • Canada and the house being built must be designed to consider this.
• The building envelope. There are many different approaches, materials and building techniques that can be used to build the structure that separates the inside environment from the outside environment.
• The mechanical systems. This includes the systems to heat and cool the space, heat the water and provide a healthy indoor environment for the occupants.
• The people. Houses are built for living and the lifestyles and needs of the people who live there must work in harmony with the other elements of the system to achieve the best energy efficiency, indoor air quality and environmental responsibility.
None of the items above can be considered exclusively of the others because they all interact. Changing one of the elements can significantly change how the house performs.

Gary Sharp, P. Eng. is the R-2000 Coordinator at CHBA in Ottawa. He has over 30 years of experience in the residential building industry. Gary is also responsible for the CHBA Builders’ Manual.
R-2000 is supported by CHBA in partnership with Natural Resources Canada. R-2000 is owned by Natural Resources Canada. To get more information on R-2000 or to become an R-2000 builder, visit www.chba.ca or contact gary@chba.ca

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