Project location: Ramsay neighborhood in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Size: 2,400 square feet (223 square meters) for each unit
Designers: Barb Kelsall, LEED green associate, and Mark Broddle, sustainable building adviser, of Lighthouse Studios Residential Design
The backstory: The design team at Lighthouse Studios Residential Design — based in Calgary, where freezing weather is common seven months of the year — decided to build a duplex with a LEED Platinum certification, the environmental program’s highest rating for a residential home. To create such a home in a cold climate, these builders beefed up the insulation, used high-performance doors and windows, and maximized airflow for optimal heating and cooling comfort. The homes, which have both sold, offer many lessons for creating energy-efficient dwellings in cold climates. Learn how the builders did it, and get some ideas for your own green home.
1. Pump up the insulation.Lighthouse Studios responded to Calgary’s long, hard winters by exceeding the code requirement for insulating the lower level, using materials such as rigid insulation and crushed gravel.
From the basement to the attic, Lighthouse took advantage of many other materials with a high R-value, such as spray foam, to slow heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
“People just think of insulation keeping heat in, but it actually keeps the cool [air] in as well,” says Barb Kelsall, LEED green associate of Lighthouse Studios.
Tough, drought-tolerant plants, turf and permeable decks work year-round in Calgary’s extreme weather, while water-efficient, low-impact landscaping thrives even with minimal rainfall. Rain barrels and rain gardens collect water for irrigation.
10. Make the floor plan open and inviting. In its quest to build a green home in a cold climate, Lighthouse Studios didn’t sacrifice aesthetics for efficiency. The designers made the duplex bright, spacious, open and sunny. “This is what the first impression is,” Kelsall says.