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DECEMBER 2015     VOLUME 13     ISSUE 37

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BC BUILDER BUILDS GREEN


We are sure many of you are getting familiar with the National Building Code changes related to energy efficiency.  We would like to share some of our thoughts and experiences, and hope all other builders will do the same.
 
We have been working on energy efficiency since 2008 when we decided it would be beneficial for our company to become a Build Green Canada member and build our custom homes to the Energuide rating system.  That same year, business partner Carl Lauren built his own home (conventional construction with log accents) to Built Green Gold level (Energuide 79).  From a CHBA course on air sealing techniques in conventional construction, we started to apply those standards to the custom home side of our company.  Since then, we have changed much of our design and construction practices for both the custom homes and log & timber sides of our company.  We are now fully committed to modeling and testing every home we design and build.
 
In 2010, we met our first challenge when we designed and built two log cabins in Whitehorse, Yukon.  Whitehorse has a strict building code requirement of having RSI4.9 (R28) insulated walls above grade and a building envelope depressurization air change rate below 1.5 (1.5 ACH @ 50Pa).  The alternative option would be to energy model and test to show we could achieve an Energuide 80.  
 
Working with an Energy Advisor, we modified the designs with the energy efficient improvements of R-56 cathedral ceilings, larger diameter logs, properly sized heating appliances, triple glazed windows, and a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV).  In addition, the window orientation of both buildings were reviewed and re-oriented on-site.  We were more than a little worried about achieving the requirement of ACH1.5 @ 50Pa, but our Energy Advisor assured us that this does not apply with the alternative of achieving Energuide 80.  With energy modeling with Hot 2000, the depressurized air change rate is set at 3.5 ACH@50Pa as a default.  Therefore, we needed to achieve an 3.5 ACH or better in order to have the buildings pass for occupancy.
 
During reset of the cabins, the temperature of the day was -25˚C so using Emseal tape on all of the log joinery was extremely challenging.  We also stayed another 2 weeks to frame the walls, insulate the roof, and install windows and doors.  We used a few details from FP Innovations/Dalibor Houdek's The Illustrated Guide to Log Home Construction and came up with a few of our own. 
 
When it came time to test the cabins, we were still a little nervous as we had not done this on a log home before and we were unaware of any published results on air leakage with log homes.  In the end, the smaller cabin achieved a 3.15 ACH@50Pa resulting in an Energuide 80 rating.  The larger cabin achieved a 2.2 ACH@50Pa and an Energuide 81 rating.
 
Earlier this year (March 31, 2015), the Yukon Government decided to suspend the 2012 National Building Code (NBC) energy efficiency provisions to all homes (Whitehorse Bylaw on Energy Efficiency remains).  The government's press release specifically referenced log homes.  While some may think that having special exemptions for log homes is a good sign, we believe it continually harms our industry.  We can build energy efficient homes to the provisions of the NBC using trade offs and the performance method using ICC 400, as well as Energy Advisors.  Our efforts as builders would be better suited to improving details and educating the General Contractors and Owners to build and finish log & timber homes following energy efficient details.
 
Since these first few projects, we have changed a lot of our details and the products we use.  We also seek consultation from Energy Advisors on nearly every home we design.  We have constructed and registered nearly 30 homes with NRCan, built a log home to 1.22ACH@50Pa(Energuide 82), a timber frame and SIP home to 0.99ACH@50Pa (Energuide 87) and last year won a CHBA Tommie Award (Best Green Builder of the Year). 
 
We would like other builders to share and publish their experiences, so we can all stop hearing "What is the R-Value of your log wall" from every prospective customer.  The house is a whole and our walls matter, but compared to conventional framed houses built to code minimum, we can outperform.
At the BCLTBI Conference, we would like to have a more in-depth look at our builders projects (log & timber frame), energy rebates/incentives, actual performance of conventional homes built to code minimum, advantages of using the performance method, as well as construction details and products.   Please bring your projects to discuss and share.
 
Also, as part of the BCLTBI website update, we would like to feature projects from our members showing examples of energy efficient homes.  Please submit your projects and pictures with performance to Patti LeFrancois (bclogandtimber@gmail.com).
 
 Rob Wheeler - Tyee Log & Timber
 
How Green are our Log and Timber Structures?

50 Shades of Green?
By Peter Sperlich

The problem we seem to be faced with today is that everyone is making a claim of providing products that are Green & Sustainable. Often there is little or no actual evidence given and people are becoming ever more skeptical.Even the new Building Code has much emphasis placed on the energy required to heat a building.  That along with the theoretical “R” value of wood being rather low makes us look relatively bad as far as the Building Code and energy efficiency goes. 
 
Fortunately, we do have some favorable shades of Green on our side!  Firstly, the actual performance of solid wood always seems to exceed the theoretical numbers.  This is possibly due to the method of how these calculations are made.  In reality, we all know that wood is actually a very poor conductor of heat.  The wooden match and wooden pot handle are obvious examples.   If the common catchword of “Thermal Bridge” were applied to our log walls, how on earth would a solid wood house ever be warm?    Well, we know it is and a wooden component in a building never feels cold!  Can you say the same for steel, glass, or concrete building components?  Obviously, these materials are great conductors of heat and a far better place to apply the term “Thermal Bridge”.
 
I wish I could just give us the Magic Formula to explain this, but up to this point, it seems that no one really has.  That being said, I did recently speak with one individual in Germany that claimed that he had been working on a Formula using Quantum Physics that actually results in a favorable calculation for wood, closer to the actual performance of wood.  I do not believe that it will be easy to challenge the common methodology that is currently used, but I think it is significant that there may be some light on the horizon in this regard.
 
                         “At this point in time, our best shade is the greenest one.”
 
Thanks to a “Life Cycle Analysis” (LCA) study report, commissioned by our association for log and timber buildings a few years back, we have actual proof that our building styles are the greenest that they have studied!

The further significance of the LCA is that it accounts for the entire life of the building products including transport, manufacturing, building, and decommissioning.  Not just heating and performance of the building. We have the proof that we are Really Green!  Now what we need to do is let the rest of the world know.
 
Come to our annual Conference in Chase Feb 18-20 2016 for further information, presentations and discussions on our LCA, energy efficiency, and code compliance!
 
Your future may depend on it!
 
2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE - FEBRUARY 18 - 20, 2016
QUAAOUT LODGE, CHASE BC
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY -
The digital SLR Camera- Why this tool could be the most important one in your toolbox!
Facilitator: Peter Sperlich, Canadian Pride Log and Timber Products - Sperlich Log Construction


Pre-conference Workshop - February 18, 2016 - Register Now

Enjoy a day of fun and hands on learning about architectural photography in layman's terms with Peter Sperlich of Canadian Pride Log and Timber Products. Peter has made this his pastime and passion both on and off the job for over 10 years! Insights and tricks of the pros will make this a must attend for anyone that enjoys photography of their own work or photography in general.
We do not all have a professional photographer on hand when the photo opportunity presents itself, this will help give you the skills and confidence to make the shot count!
The Digital SLR is simply the best tool for the job so the workshop will focus on that! You will find just a couple of great shots down the road will have made this workshop time and money well spent!
The workshop will also touch on GoPro sports cameras as well as Drone aerial Photography as time allows!
Open to everyone with or without a Digital SLR.
Additional fee applies and pre-registration is required.
Do not forget to bring your camera to this full day session.
 
Tool Sharpening – with Dai Ona
Friday February 19, 2016 at the 2016 Conference

 Join Dai Ona of Daizen Joinery for this hands on sharp edge tool maintenance and sharpening clinic. In the log and timber building industry we use a chisel every day and a hand planer is mandatory to fine-tune the wood fit. Without a properly sharpened edge, we are not able to achieve the result we need for that perfect fit. In this clinic, Dai will start with sharpening logic and theory followed by sharpening setup and procedures then he will work with participants as they hone their sharpening skills. Participants will be introduced to the characteristics of a variety of sharpening surfaces/stones and taught a method to flatten the face of the stone, followed by the sharpening procedure.
With this 3 hour course, participants will achieve a decent edge on the tools they bring to the workshop and will see how much difference it makes working on wood joinery when a tool has a good edge.

Be sure and bring chisels, hand planes and other hand tools you have that require a good edge along with your sharpening stones to the workshop so you can practice the techniques during the workshop.
 
This would be a great workshop to bring your employees to - day rates for employees to attend one day are available. Register Now

 
Check out the complete 2016 Conference Schedule and plan to attend
February 18 - 20, 2016 at the Quaaout Lodge, Chase BC
Thank you to our 2015 Sponsors
Sign-up now and become a 2016 Conference Sponsor
Oops we missed giving proper credit for the photo pictured on the left that appeared in our November 2015 Newsletter. Image pictured provided by The Log Connection.
From our home to yours, we wish you all a very
Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year
Hope to see you all in 2016 at our 19th Annual Conference
February 18 - 20, 2016

 
Copyright © 2015 BC Log and Timber Building Industry Association, All rights reserved.


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