My Quest for Sustainability

My Quest for Sustainability – SHC003

What do I want to get from making my home and my life more sustainable? How do I plan on getting there?

I have always wanted to have a career that would allow me to support my family and still have time to be with them.

I have been interested in architecture and sustainable homes from a young age.

My first career was in in aircraft maintenance but I switched to architecture to have more time with my family and to hopefully one day design and build my own home.

I started the architectural technologies program at SAIT in 2011 and was able to get a position with the Green Building Technologies office starting in my first semester and continued working there for the duration of my program.

My Sustainable Goals

I want to make my current home constructed in 1981 more sustainable.

I will start by monitoring the energy usage in comparison to the exterior temperature for at least a year. At some point after that I will complete renovations to drastically reduce the energy requirements of my home. After those renovations I will monitor the energy usage and temperature for at least a year following the renovations to confirm the exact energy improvements.

Through my monitoring I will be able to record my energy usage in comparison to the actual exterior temperatures using a measurement known as heating degree days.

Heating degree days and cooling degree days are used to design heating and cooling systems and calculate expected energy usage. They are based on average climate data for a given location and measure how cold (below a baseline temperature – +18 degrees Celsius in Canada) it is and for how long over the course of a year.

I tried to explain heating degree days in the podcast episode at 6:25 and I apologize if it came out pretty confusing. I did find a great article explaining heating degree days at http://www.degreedays.net/introduction

You can also read the wikipedia entry about heating degree days… but it is a bit dense: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heating_degree_day

This end data will provide a comparison of energy usage per heating degree day before and after the renovation…. Not just “my bills are lower” which could also be attributed to a warmer winter….. Read the article at degreedays.net/introduction for another great illustration.

I will also possibly look at getting some sustainable certifications for my renovation.

My thoughts on certifications

Certifications are all slightly different and some have specific focuses. I think certifications are great to provide independent documentation and certification for what you have done to your home and can help increase the value of your home when selling. They can also help guide you on your path towards a sustainable home.

Some of the more known and used certifications are:

  1. Passive House (Passive House Canada, Passive House Institute US, Passive House Institute) – Passive House is focused on low whole home energy use. It is based on building a highly insulated and airtight building and having low electrical and fuel requirements.
  2. LEED for Homes (Canadian Green Building Council LEED for Homes, US Green Building Council LEED for Homes) – LEED for homes takes many different energy, health, and environmental concepts into account and gives you points based on the steps you take to make your home more sustainable.
  3. EnerGuide for Homes (Natural Resources Canada) – EnerGuide for Homes is a Government of Canada program and gives you a rating for your home based on energy usage.
  4. Energy Star for Homes (Natural Resources Canada, Energy Star US) – Energy Star for Homes is a program run both in Canada and the US. It is also based on home energy usage.

There are also many other standards available which offer certifications for meeting certain energy usage goals and using environmentally sustainable products and building practices.

I want to design and build my own sustainable home.

My biggest dream is to design from the ground up and build my own sustainable home with the goal for it to:

  1. Meet my families needs,
  2. Be comfortable,
  3. Have very low energy requirements.
  4. Obtain as many sustainable home certifications as possible to illustrate the fact that they aren’t all different.
  5. I would also like it to be on an acreage to have room for a large garden and a greenhouse so we can grow a lot of our own food….. And have lots of room for my kids to play.

Through this podcast and my website I want to help as many people as possible understand the benefits of having a sustainable home and to make their own homes more sustainable. I will fill you in on all of the details while I am planning my home renovation and then eventually designing and building my own home.

I want a more sustainable life for myself and my family

My final goal is towards that of a more sustainable life for myself and my family.

As I continue with this podcast and website I want to be able to provide you with valuable information that you can utilize to make your homes more sustainable.

Right now I am focusing on these blog posts and the accompanying podcast.

In the future I plan on providing value and education to you through courses, books, public speaking… and any other ways that I am able to provide you with extraordinary value in helping you be able to make your home more sustainable.

I hope to get into a position where I am able to support my family while doing these things without having to have any outside employment. This will allow me to work from home and have as much time with them as possible while I try to provide food and a roof over their heads.

What I Want to Learn

It is impossible to become an expert in every single aspect of sustainability.

I want to become an expert in the whole home application of sustainability. My quest to achieve this level of knowledge will include:

  1. Becoming an energy advisor under Canada’s Energuide for Homes rating system.
  2. Becoming a certified Passive House Designer.
  3. Becoming a LEED Accredited Professional for  the LEED for Homes rating system.
  4. Obtaining a Living Future Accreditation from the International Living Future Institute which administers the Living Building Challenge.
  5. Obtain, study, and understand the following standards to better understand home heating cooling and ventilation as they relate to home efficiency and comfort:
    1. ASHRAE Standard 55 – Thermal Comfort
    2. ASHRAE Standard 62.2 – Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality
    3. ASHRAE Standard 90.2 – Energy Efficient Design

By achieving these certifications and gaining a better understanding of these standards as well as completing research in other areas of sustainability I want to place myself in the best position possible to help you know the best method for you to make your home more sustainable within your budget and according to your needs…. And also to make my own home more sustainable.

What Do You Want to Learn?

So now you know a bit more of where I am coming from and what my aspirations are.

My main overarching goal is to help make homes in North America more sustainable and durable.

My question for you is what do you want to learn?

Let me know your questions about making your home:

  1. More energy efficient
  2. More environmentally friendly
  3. More comfortable for you and your family
  4. More healthy for you.

Enter your questions into the comments at the bottom of this post.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has given you a better understanding of why I have created Sustainable Home Catalyst and my goals for a more sustainable life.

If you would like to help support me on this journey you can go to shcatalyst.com/resources.

At the time of publishing, the resources page contains links to Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Homedepot.ca.

In the future I will be including links to other stores and also specific products that I feel can help you on your journey to a more sustainable home.

When it comes to specific products I will only be including products that I have used and evaluated myself which I feel are of the highest quality and can help make your home or life more sustainable.

Many of the links on that page are affiliate links which means that I will receive a small commission if you use those links to make purchases. By doing so you will not pay any more for what you are buying but it helps support me in preparing these resources for you.

 

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Posted in Sustainable Home Catalyst Podcast.