Introduction: if you are interested in any of the following
sustainable items: Home Plans, reused Solar Collectors, double
Strawbale Sewing Needles, EcoStuds, Home Check List, Conference
Papers, Drawings, CD-ROMs or videos, please
for details or current pricing. Some items
can be faxable, others can be sent electronically, after payment.
Some items need to be delivered or picked-up. These items evolved
through "real world" experience in the field over many
years, and lessons learned by daily living and working in a demonstration
building that we designed and built. All items are available now,
except those indicated.
Table Of Contents
| A. EcoPlans:
Sustainable Building Plans:
1.00 Sustainable Home Plans
2.00 Strawbale Garage/Workshop Plans
3.00 Strawbale Cabin/Hermitage Plans
4.00 Autonomous Alpine Hut Plans
B. EcoProducts for Buildings:
5.00 EcoStuds: (Wall Trusses)
6.00 refurbished Solar Hot Water Collectors
7.00 double strawbale Sewing Needles
8.00 Strawbale Wall Access Ports
C. Educational Products:
Books, CD, Checklist, Papers, Reports
9.00 Straw Bale House Book: A/B. Steen
10.00 CD-ROM: "Sustainability in Action"
11.00 Home CheckList, Report
Card: List of 30 Criteria & Questions
12.00 Conference Papers (Public
a. Alberta Sustainable Home/Office:
12.01 Conserver Lifestyle
12.02 Energy & Water Consumption
12.03 Environmental Features
12.04 Environmental Features & Pattern Language
12.05 Health Features
12.06 Indoor Environmental Features
12.07 Masonry Heater & Thermal Mass
12.08 Many "R"s: Beyond the 3 "R"s
12.09 Science & Technology
12.10 Windows, SunPipes & Shades
b. Strawbale Design & Construction:
12.11 BREBS Project: Straw Bales & Rammed Earth
12.12 Code Amendments
12.13 Strawbale Blacksmith Shop: Owner's Perspective
12.14 Strawbale Buildings in Northern Climates
12.15 Strawbale Design & Construction (Looking
c. Other Buildings & Products:
12.16 Energy Options for Alpine Huts
12.17 Green Building Products
12.18 Green Office Towers
12.19 Passive Cooling
Cool Closet & 12 Strawbale Details
14.00 Reports (Public Education
II): Toilets, Retrofit, Water Systems
14.01 Biological Toilets
14.02 Sustainable Home Water System: RainWater & GreyWater
14.03 Design of a Generic Sustainable House
14.04 Advanced Sustainable House
14.05 Retrofit Wall System for Residential Housing
14.06 RecoFit House: Ecological retrofit of standard house
14.07 Self-Help Retrofit Manual for Owners of Multi-Family
14.08 The Hood River Precedent: Community Retrofit Project
14.09 Gas Consumption Analysis: Space & Domestic Hot Water
14.10 Set-Back Thermostats: Comparison
14.11 HandHeld Energy Audit Tools: Comparison
14.12 Computer Simulations - HOTCan
14.13 Air-Leakage Tests: Housing Units: Results
14.14 Air Leakage Tests: Windows and Doors: Results
15.00 Strawbale Video Rental: Blackrange
A. Sustainable Home Plans: Home, Garage &
Cabin Plans (available Fall 2003)
All plans were supervised by a university trained professional having
27 years of "real world" experience in design, construction
and consulting in the sustainable building field. All are stamped
by Alberta registered engineers. 5 sets of working drawings will
be provided. All have been built, except where noted. If you think
that you would be interested in a complete set of working drawings,
including architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical for
our simple and small sustainable buildings or homes, please contact
this office. Basic plans should be appearing on-line over the next
few months or so.
1.00 Sustainable Home Plans: single family homes for city
and country (see photo of completed projects on left):
Over the last 27 years we have designed many environmentally-sound,
energy-efficient, passive solar homes using a variety of construction
methods including: EcoStuds, straw bales, rammed earth, double wall,
stack wall, and prefabricated (i.e. SIPs). We have decided to offer
our most sustainable projects for construction by others in cold
climates. We are taking some of our best plans, improving the layout
and flexibility, updating the whole-house systems and retrofitting
them with our latest details, as a complete set of working drawings.
All projects are based on our [Mission/Vision Statement], as appropriate
in the circumstances.
A set of working drawings for any building or home includes: Foundation
Plan, 4 Elevations, 2 Building Sections, Roof Plan, Construction
Details, Window/Door Schedule, General Notes, Construction Notes,
Structural Notes, structural components (posts, beams, lintels,
footings, pads, etc.), Electrical Layout, Mechanical Plan (radiant
floor heating & HRV layout). We exclusively use radiant floor
heating, heat recovery ventilators in our mechanical systems.
Most of our projects use "shallow frost protected foundations"
(SFPF) and slabs-on-grade. A site plan will be done after purchase,
according to sketches provided by the owner of the land.
2.00 Strawbale Garage/Workshop: for city or country lots
This single car garage for a city lot includes a small workshop,
solar hot water collectors for radiant floor heating, and rain barrels
for summertime rainwater collection. This is a useful way to retain
some of the engine heat, once the car is parked. Reused materials
are specified to keep the costs down.
3.00 Strawbale Cabin/Hermitage: for city backyards or country
This small autonomous building can serve many functions including:
backyard retreat, tool shed or work room for a city backyard. It
includes a solar hot water collector for radiant floor heating,
a photovoltaic panel with batteries for clean green electric power
and rain barrels for summertime rainwater collection.
4.00 Autonomous Alpine Hut: A preliminary design of this
small tight (12 x 24 feet) autonomous hut for 15 people (maximum)
was presented for the 1991 AGM of the Alpine Club of Canada at Lake
Louise. It was designed for the most rigorous remote mountain conditions:
high wind loads, deep snow drifting, infrequent servicing, self-sufficient
operation, minimum environmental impact, need for shelter &
safety, and opportunities for social community. This movable building
was designed for the following requirements: body heat utilization,
waterless toilet, greywater collection, highway/helicopter/snowmobile
transport, passive solar heating, backup heating, photovoltaic/wind
electric energy, natural materials, and winter access. A variety
of energy supplies were considered and compared including wind,
thermo-electric, fuel cell, photovoltaics and mini-hydro. Final
selection would depend on site assets and constraints. The basic
plan is an elevated floor cavity containing batteries and storage
tanks as a ballast. The main floor houses an air lock and shower
area, kitchenette and common space/sleeping area. A spiral stair
accesses an upper sleeping loft. A second floor balcony serves as
winter access when snow cover prevents ground floor entry.
B. EcoProducts for Buildings:
5.00 EcoStuds Wall Trusses (see photo on left): This wall
truss is very versatile in both height and thickness. Our usual
wall thickness is 14" ( 36 mm) accommodating R-56 insulation.
There is very little thermal bridging of heat from the inside to
the outside (in the winter) or the reverse (in the summer). We have
used it for 1, 1.5 and 2 story heights in both modern balloon frame
construction, and in old fashioned western framing. Balloon framing
allows a far superior wall-floor detail to control traditional problem
areas of excessive infiltration and exfiltration, a non-existing
vapour barrier and poor thermal insulation, as occurs at floor trimmers.
From an insulation point of view, it can accommodate any logical
amount of insulation. Since it is an open "wall truss",
blown-in insulation such as cellulose or (mineral) wool is very
fast and efficient. EcoStuds can reuse short left-over cut-offs
(cull material) from any truss manufacturer and nail plate connectors
can be made from 60% recycled steel. They are installed like any
stud wall. There is very little thermal bridging at top plates and
lintels (which are installed over the inner 2x4 or 2x6 structural
studs), bottom plates, cripples, king studs (around windows and
doors), with about R-42 insulation outside of these members, in
a 14" wide EcoStud. The costs vary according to manufacturer
and province, but average about 80% more expensive than 2 x 6 studs
(which comprise about 20% of a wall area as thermal bridging). Our
current EcoStud drawings are protected by copyright.
6.00 Solar Hot Water Collectors (refurbished) These 4' x
8' reusable "PetroSun" solar collectors, as seen on the
left, will be coming on-line soon. We have several projects where
such collectors were removed from a project done by others, after
about 18 years of service, and reinstalled on one of ours, for either
or both solar hot water heating and/or space heating. We have a
new supply of old collectors which are being inspected, cleaned
and refurbished as necessary. First come first served.
7.00 double Strawbale Sewing Needles: As seen in the photograph
on the left, these double strawbale sewing needles save a lot of
time since they can stitch a wall much faster than using the single
strawbale needles. Narrower needles for producing single designer
bales can also be used. They can be rented or bought from our office.
Our drawings of these double strawbale Sewing Needles are protected
8.00 strawbale Wall Access Ports (patent pending): As can
be seen in the photograph on left, this inexpensive openable access
port for strawbale walls is inexpensive and will maintain a good
vapour barrier on the inside surface of outside strawbale walls
while allowing a moisture/temperature probe to penetrate the bales
for occasional testing. In cases of continuous and isolated higher
moisture readings (i.e. >20%), it may also be a way to inject
dry warm temperatures through a hair dryer to help dry off some
of the bales, although this has not yet been tried. It is constructed
out of readily available materials and can be constructed in a few
minutes. They are attached to stucco wiring. They have also been
used as a multipurpose holder for such items as hanging plants,
pictures, bulletin boards, etc. They can be ordered by the dozen,
or the diagrams can be e-mailed electronically after payment (see
13.211 below). Drawings, specifications and photographs of these
strawbale Wall Access Ports are protected by copyright.
C. Educational Products (books, CD-ROM, Checklist,
Conference Papers, Reports, Video Rental):
9.00 The Straw Bale House Book, Athena & Bill Steen: 3
left. Good introduction to basics and projects, but details and
building science not appropriate for cold climates, codes or inspectors.
10.00 CD-ROM: (to be released in the Fall of 2003): "Sustainability
in Action": This interactive, useful and educational CD-ROM
is meant to be fun, informative and practical for the everyday Canadian,
whether you live in an apartment, single family house, townhouse,
farm, or remote community. You choose the degree of change appropriate
for you. It is meant for lifestyle changes, recofit (ecological
retrofit) options or new construction opportunities in cold climates.
Air, Earth, Sun, and Water are the foundations on which to build
and optimize many "Kyoto Opportunities", in concert with
"real world" partners and products for "local solutions
to global change". For a sneak preview, please [click here].
One visual tool that will be used within the interactive CD is a
complete virtual tour of ASH.
11.00 The Sustainable Home "Check List"
(or Cold Climate "Home Report Card"): An interactive
8 page checklist, in point form, of sustainable concepts, multipurpose
features, green products and healthy materials, which can or should
apply to most homes. This list can also be used as a "Report
Card" to help establish the value of the new house you are
considering. It also serves as a guideline for questions to ask
It lists every feature considered or found in the [Alberta Sustainable
Home/Office] (EcoHome) in Scenic Acres in Northwest Calgary, which
has now been visited by about 70,000 people.
This Check List has the following categories of your consideration.
Click to see photo.
11.01 Basic Housing Rights 11.16 [Greenhouse] (food production,
cleaning water & air)
11.02 Principles of Sustainability 11.17 [Utility Area] (recycling
centre, washing, storage, waterless toilet)
11.03 Specific Design/Build Criteria 11.18 [Lower Bathroom] (handicapped
11.04 Siting Aspects 11.19 [Home Office] (MultiPurpose Room, Bedroom
11.05 [North Elevation] 11.20 [Useful Garage] (Showroom, Playroom,
11.06 [Tool Shed/Greenhouse] 11.21 [enlightened Stairway] (i.e.
11.07 [Backyard (Edible/Medicinal) 11.22 [Upper Hallway]
11.08 [South Elevation] 11.23 [Upper Bathroom] (can accommodate
11.09 [West Elevation] 11.24 [Attic Storage] (i.e. den)
11.10 [FrontYard (Edible/Medicinal)] 11.25 [Bedroom #1] (can be
combined with adjacent bedroom)
11.11 [Porch] (to build community) 11.26 [Bedroom #2] (can be combined
with adjacent bedroom)
11.12 [Air Lock] (Mud Room, Vestibule) 11.27 [Mechanical/Storage]
11.13 ["Living" (or Family) Room] 11.28 [Master Bedroom]
(Bedroom #3) + meditation alcove
11.14 [Dining Room] (or Office extension) 11.29 [Conserver Lifestyle]
11.15 [Kitchen] (heart of the home) 11.30 [Performance]
This check list is particularly useful if you are comparing homes,
to help find the most sustainable one. it will also give you the
most objective reference points assembled in one place. It is not
perfect, nor does it have everything for everyone. It is under constant
development and improvement, as time and resources allow.
12.00 Conference Papers: these peer-reviewed
conference papers were all presented at various conferences in Canada
or the US over the last 20 years. Most are based on experience with
the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office (since 1993). For further information,
you are invited to visit [Media] for a more comprehensive list of
publications written by others and ourselves, and reports published
by this office.
a. Alberta Sustainable Home/Office:
12.01) "Leading a Conserver Lifestyle in the Alberta Sustainable
Home/Office": This 2 page summary sheet outlines some of
the background and specifics of a conserver lifestyle. Some of the
items touched on include: sustainable futures, greater health, greater
safety, personal benefits, work benefits, fringe benefits, economic
advantages, new comfort zone, and a summary of "Win-Win Lifestyle
12.02) "Residential Energy & Water Consumption Study:
This 6 page study is a comparison of all energy and water savings
of the Alberta
Sustainable Home/Office compared to an average Calgary Home. It
showed an 83% saving in total annual energy and water use and a
100% saving of natural gas consumption.
The paper is broken down into the following major categories:
1.0 Analysis: Phase 1: Preliminary Analysis of Energy Consumption
2.0 Phase 2: Identification of Major Energy Consumers;
3.0 Phase 3: Testing & Monitoring; and
4.0 Phase 4: Results & Analysis
Under the latter heading, separate sections include: Heat Recovery
Ventilation (HRV), using 19% of all energy; and a Solar Collector
using 12% of all energy.
"Preliminary Water Consumption Comparison" indicated
savings of 78-85% over average city consumption, at that time.
The section on "Refrigerators" showed that the Alberta
Sustainable Home/Office only used 4% of its total energy for refrigeration.
A brief comparison of lifecycle costs were provided for 1 old and
5 new energy efficient models, based on total usable volume ÷
(capital costs+ operating
A comparison of "Environmental Costs" in carbon dioxide,
sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, coal and disturbed land was also
For more information on the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office, please
Note: The use of electrical energy has improved since that time.
Fluoridated and chlorinated city water has been cut off for many
12.03) "Environmental Features of the Alberta Sustainable
Home/Office": This 7 page overview is broken down into
11 main categories, including "The General Mandate" and
"Basic Principles" (as listed in 11.08).
The section on Global "Environmental Stewardship" includes
such items as: Sustainable Futures; Reduced Greenhouse (Gas) Emissions;
No Gas Line, Furnace or Boiler; Ultra-Efficient Fridge/Freezer;
Cool Closet; Insulation; Conservation Energy; Low Embodied Energy;
"Integrated Environmental Impact Statement"; Urban Farming;
Indoor Gardens/Food Production; and Durability/Extended Life Cycle.
Under the heading "Occupant Health (Indoor Air Quality)",
10 approaches for a more healthy indoor environment are discussed.
Under the heading "Water Preservation" the following
aspects are discussed: Water Conservation; Phoenix Waterless Toilet;
Planter Boxes; Slow Sand Filter; Plumbing; GreyWater Recycling;
Water filtering; Solar Distillation and Rainwater Collection.
Under the heading "Architectural Concepts, Features &
Products" such aspects as: Natural Materials; Smart Roof; Recycling
Area; Maximum Sunlight & Daylight; Furniture; EcoStuds; Fire
Exits and Fridge/Freezer are discussed.
In the section entitled: "Conservation Energies", the
important roles of the following are briefly noted: Fridge/Freezer;
DC Electricity; Insulation; Air Tightness; Stucco; Air Locks; and
Low Embodied Energy.
The section on "Alternative Energies" briefly discusses:
Passive Solar; Active Solar; Solar Hoods; Stirling Heat (not completed);
Solar Hydrogen Fuel Cell (not in use); Photovoltaics (not complete);
Biomass; Geothermal (not complete) and Heat Reclamation.
"Appropriate Technology" highlights our experience with
our indoor Fertilizer Plant (Waterless Toilet) and Solar Ovens.
"Conserver Lifestyle" at home and at work outlines some
of the many advantages available to anyone living in any building
Personal Benefits; Work Benefits; Fringe Benefits; Economic Advantages;
and "Win-Win Lifestyle Changes".
"New Inventions" discusses such aspects as: Insulated
Lintels; a R-17 (COG) Window; FoamForm Cribbing; Silent Door Stops
and Non-Additive Drywall Mud.
The last section entitled, "Other" aspects, concludes
with: Awards, Market Response, Overall Performance, Conclusions
12.04) "Environmental Features & Pattern Language of
the Alberta Sustainable House": This 4 page summary describes:
the General Mandate; Basic Principles; Global Environmental Stewardship;
Occupant Health (Indoor Air Quality); Water Preservation; Architectural
Concepts; Products & Features; Conservation Energies; Alternative
Energies; Conserver Lifestyle and New Inventions.
12.05) "An Overview of the Health Features of the Alberta
Sustainable Home/Office": This 2 page paper summarizes
the following features: No Gas Line, Furnace or Boiler; Prudent
Avoidance; Kinesiology; No Basement; Low/Non Toxic Caulking &
Adhesives; Biological Filters; HRV; Scrubbers; Passive Fresh Air
Vents; Environmental Cabinetry; Space Joists; Dust-free Heat Exchangers;
Pipe Insulation; Paints/Stains; Water Filtering; Natural Materials;
Maximum Sunlight & Optimal Day Lighting; Full Spectrum Radiation-Shielded
Lights; Furniture; Closet Exhaust; Central Vacu-Flo; Radiant Heat;
Portable Radiant Heater; Handicapped (Access); EMF; Urban Farming
(Sustainable Permaculture); Indoor Gardens/Food Production; Dormant
Garage; TailPipe Exhaust; Non-Additive Concrete; and Non-Additive
12.06) "Indoor Environmental Features of Alberta Sustainable
Home/Office": This 4 page overview briefly discusses such
"Basics" as: Prudent Avoidance; No Gas Line, Furnace or
Boiler; Kinesiology; and Handicapped (access). In the section entitled
"Air Quality", issues such as: CO Detector; TailPipe Exhaust;
Closet Exhausts; Biological Filters; Alpine Air Cleaner; Low Dust
Venetian Blinds; and Passive Fresh Air Vents are discussed. In addition,
such "Architectural (Aspects) as: No Basement; Dormant Garage;
Passive Solar Heating; Airlocks; and Upper Kitchen Cupboards are
briefly described. Such "Construction (Aspects) as: Non-Additive
Concrete; Space Joists; Polyethylene Air Tubes; Wood Window Preservatives;
and Pipe Insulation were all briefly described. Then, such "Finishing
(Aspects) as: Natural Finishes; Non-Additive Drywall Mud; Low/Non
Toxic Caulking & Adhesives; VOC-Free Paints/Stains; Environmental
Cabinetry; and Flooring were mentioned. Under the heading of "Water",
such topics as: Water Filtering; Waterless Toilet; and GreyWater
treatment were noted. Under "Mechanical", the following
were discussed:HRV; Scrubber; Radiant Heat; Portable Radiant Heater;
and Central Vacu-Flo were discussed. Under the heading of "Electrical",
electromagnetic fields were discussed. The heading "Lighting"
mentioned: Maximum Sunlight & Daylight; and Full Spectrum Lights.
Under appliances: Dust-free Heat Exchanger; and Office Equipment
Ventilation, were briefly noted. Under "Furniture" the
following items are discussed: Bio-Furniture; Bed and Office Furniture;
are summarized. Under the last heading "Other", the Indoor
Garden/Food Production; Fire Extinguisher; and Solar Oven, are noted.
12.07) "A Masonry Heater, A Large Thermal Flywheel and
Constant Temperatures": This 5 page paper discusses the
role of thermal mass in the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office to even
out large outdoor temperature fluctuations ranging from +8 dC to
-37 dC. Total mass in this project is 87 tonnes of which the 5"
thick concrete floor represents 68%. Wood studs, a brick feature
wall, furniture, planter boxes (treating greywater) and the waterless
toilet all contribute significant amounts to the total mass. This
paper includes: 2 floor plans, a breakdown of major elements of
mass, indoor/outdoor temperature graphs during 1 severe winter,
and a "Wood Burning Fact Sheet" showing wood use, BTU
delivered, and pollution emitted, compared to houses still using
12.08) "The Many 'R's of the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office:
This 4 page paper discusses 22 approaches to design, construction
and lifestyle, for a more sustainable future, all of which have
been implemented in the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office by our firm.
The "Basic Principles" elaborate opportunities beyond
the standard 3 'R's - "reduce, reuse and recycle" to many
other complementary actions and approaches, such as: rethink, re-evaluate,
research, redefine the resource, reclaim, resale value, recover
& redesignate, refurbish, repair & restore, and renewables.
Aspects of "Global Environmental Stewardship", "Water
Use", and "Architectural Concepts" are also discussed.
12.09) "Science & Technology of Alberta Sustainable
House": This 2 page description summarizes some of the
features of the Alberta
Sustainable Home/Office under the headings of: Biology, Chemistry
Geology, Physics and Other, for teachers and school administrators.
12.10) "Windows, SunPipes & Shades in the Alberta Sustainable
Home/Office": This 5 page overview of observations and
on various fenestration techniques used in the Alberta Sustainable
Home/Office includes: "Criteria" such as Affordability,
Indoor Air Quality, Maximum Daylighting, Reduction of Heat Loss,
Increased Comfort, Embodied Energy, Renewable
Resources, Airtightness, Passive Solar Penetration, Humidity, Noise,
Low Maintenance, UV Blockage, Bringing Outside
Inside, Security & Safety and Environmental Record (of manufacturer).
Technology Highlights include a brief discussion of : R-17
(COG) Window, AR Low-E films, R-12 (COG) off-the-shelf windows,
an ER=+17.8 window, and SunPipes. Retrofit Strategies
discussed include: Window Coverings, Solar Venetian Blinds, Window
Quilts, Honeycombed Shades, and Window Kits.
Conclusions are provided on: an R-20 Window, a better SunPipe, Less
Window Mullions, Wide Window Sills, Window Mirrors (very popular),
Interior Windows, Storm Window Kits, Skylights, Condensation, Condensation
Retention Gutter, "Swiggle Strip", White Window Frames,
and Overall Conclusions. These observations and lessons are based
on "real world" experience in living and working with
buildings we design and build.
b. Strawbale Design & Construction:
12.11) "The BREBS Project" (Straw-Bale Rammed Earth
Passive Solar Home): This 5 page paper discusses some of the
and construction features of this strawbale rammed earth home. Some
of the "Guiding Principles of Sustainability" discussed
include: Environmental Stewardship, Vernacular Aesthetics, Indigenous
Materials, Decentralization, Team Approach, Local
Economy, Arts & Crafts, Job Creation, Cottage Industry, User
Participation, Ethical Procurement, Alternative Funding, and
Economic Incentive. Some of the "Architectural Features"
described include: Smaller & Affordable House, Construction,
Aesthetics, Space Stretchers, Belvedere and Details. Some of the
Energy Features described include: Exterior Walls, Windows,
Ventilation and Mechanical Systems. Some of the "Renewable
Energy Features" include: Solar Thermal, Solar Electric, Wind,
Daylighting, Gas Line and Wood Heat. Under the heading of "Environmental
Features", Indoor Air Quality, Recycled (Products) and
Recycling Center, Water Use, and Sewage Treatment are discussed.
A graph of the results of structural testing of strawbales
(both on end and flat), the first in North America, is also included.
12.12) "Preliminary Code Amendment to Part 9.00 of the
Alberta Building Code (and National Building Code of Canada) for
This 6 page paper starts with an Abstract, Background, Introduction,
Definitions and Context before examining some of the "Basic
Parameters" including: Engineer's Stamp; Two Story Restrictions;
Basements; Structural Loads; Monolithic Integrity; Racking Strength;
Top Plates; Lintels; Bottom Pedestal; Scaffolding; Loose Straw Pick-Up;
Fire Fighting Plan; All Risk Insurance; Construction Fence; Flashings;
Corner Bracing; Capillary Break; Drainage; Stucco Treatment; Vapour
Retarder; Variations; Moisture Content; Bathroom Humidity; Electrical
Wiring; Roof Overhang; Exterior Finish; Corner Gaps; Height Limitation;
Stacking; and Portholes. The paper concludes with "Other"
aspects, References and Postscript. 2 drawings are included.
12.13) "Strawbale Blacksmith Shop": This 2 page
overview by the owner of a Blacksmith Shop built with strawbale
walls explains the basic costs and problems encountered with this
12.14) "Strawbale Buildings in Northern Climates":
This 9 page "Case Study Overview" is meant as "candid
advice on a promising, environmental, renewable & natural (but
imperfect) building material & method", based on work since
1978. The 7 main areas of discussion include: History, Applications,
Assets & Liabilities, Construction, Building Details, Testing
Reports, and Other Components.
This paper starts with a Prologue, Background and Introduction.
The "Discussion" section includes short paragraphs on
the following: General Advantages, General Disadvantages, Architectural
Advantages, Limitations, Achilles Heel, Material Cost, Reuse &
Recycle, Renewable Resource, Short Rejuvenation Cycle, Embodied
Energy, No Factory, Dual Dividends, Code Compliance, and FIRES.
Under the heading of "Construction", the following items
are briefly discussed: Construction Method, Forgiving Material,
Alignment, Scaffolding, Post & Beam Construction, Stucco, Exterior
Finishing Materials, Interior Finishing Materials, Construction
Cost, Hip Roofs, Roof Trusses, Tips, WarmUp and Recofit.
Under the heading "Details", the following aspects are
briefly discussed: Specifications, Rock Foundation, Rubble Trenches,
FormWork, Foundation Wall Insulation, Waffle Slabs, Starter Rebars,
Wood Preservative, Bottom Plate, Moisture Content, Breathing Walls,
Vapour Barriers, Pinning, Windows, Ladders and Overhangs.
Under the heading "Testing", the following aspects are
briefly noted: Insulation Value, Compression Tests, Air Tightness
and Wrong References.
Under the last heading, "Other", the following aspects
are briefly discussed: Three Myths, Value Added, Coach Potatoes,
Advice, Reminders, Open Invitation, Rhetorical Questions and In
The paper ends with 10 References.
12.15) "Looking back: the last 18 years of Strawbale Design
& Construction for Northern Climates": Jorg Ostrowski
began working on strawbale design and construction in 1978. He has
never been a strawbale "zealot". As with all construction
methods, strawbale construction has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Unless one has many years of "real world" experience with
various construction techniques, on many different projects, one
can not know the assets and liabilities of various construction
methods. Strawbale walls only comprises a small % of total construction
costs. This 6 page paper discusses some of the lessons learned,
those ideas that worked and those that did not. It begins with an
introduction to the more recent resurgence of interest in strawbale
construction in the US in the 1990s, and goes on to describe such
aspects as: Advantages (General, Environmental, Construction); Moisture;
Insulation Value; Disadvantages; Details; Specifications; Rubble
Trenches; Roof Trusses; Myths; Code Compliance; Limitations; Caution;
Advice; Improvements Needed; Research; Conclusion; and References
& Resources. 5 photographs are included. This is a widely distributed
c. Other Buildings & Products:
12.16) "Energy Options in Backcountry Alpine Huts":
This talk to the Alpine Club in 1991 was an overview of Advantages,
Disadvantages and Costs of: Conservation, Fuel Cells, Mini-Hydro,
Passive Solar, Photovoltaics, Thermo-Electric Generators (TEGs)
and Wind Electric Generators, as options for remote and stand-alone
Alpine Huts. The main headings for this 6 page paper included: Background,
Requirements, Energy Options, Costs, Best Options, The Design of
an "Autonomous Alpine Hut" and Bibliography. An Alternative
Energy Matrix provided a rating for various Criteria such as: Renewable
Energy, No Pollution, Low Embodied Energy, Recycled Parts, D-I-Y
Potential, No Moving Parts, Low Weight, Simplicity, Reliability,
Modularity, Portability, Commercial Availability, Self Reliance,
Quiet, Low Maintenance, Energy Density, Co-Generation, In-House,
Time Tested, Efficiency, Cost-Effectiveness and Application, for
each of the following Energy strategies: Conservation, Fuel Cells,
Mini-Hydro, Passive Solar, Photovoltaics, TEG and Wind. Sections,
South Elevation and Floor Plan for a "Generic Autonomous Alpine
Hut for 15 people" was also provided.
12.17) "Green Building Products for Sustainable Buildings
and Communities": This 4 page paper discusses some of the
basic principles and specific products appropriate for this context.
Under "Occupant Health", Low/Non Toxic Materials are discussed.
"Environmental Stewardship" provides details on Insulation,
Natural Materials, and Maximum Sunlight & Daylight. "Resource
Conservation" itemizes Reused Materials, Recycled Content,
and Short Rejuvenation Periods. Another section describes "Water
Conservation" opportunities. "Energy Conservation"
describes Air Tightness, and Insulation opportunities. "Specific
Green Products" provides brief descriptions of: Foam Form Cribbing,
Non-Additive Concrete, Space Joists, EcoStuds, Waterless Toilets,
Heat Recovery Systems, Radiant floor Heating, Photovoltaics, SolarWall,
Stucco, Strawbales, Insulated Lintels, High Performance Windows,
Non-Additive Drywall Mud, StrawBoards and
Other Products, for sustainable buildings and communities.
12.18) "Green Office Towers": In preparation for
our "Retrofit Strategy for a 50 Story, 2000 Person Office Tower",
this firm reviewed relevant architectural precedents. This 4 page
overview describes some of the best green office buildings both
new and retrofit, including: the International Nederlanden Bank
(Amsterdam, Holland); Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (Hong Kong);
C. K. Choi Building (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), Green
on the Grande (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), 2211 West 4th
Avenue (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), BRE Low Energy Headquarters
(Garston, UK), the Self-Sustaining Eco Centre (Tyne & Wear,
UK), the Learning Center (Chelmsford, UK), NRDC's Eco-Office (Washington,
DC, US), The Center for Regenerative Studies (Pomona, California,
US), Eastgate Office Complex (Harare, Zimbabwe), Jack Davis Building
(Victoria, BC), Audubon House (NYC, New York, US), Ridgehaven Municipal
building (San Diego California, US) and the EcoSmart Building Center
(NYC, New York, US). 10 References are provided.
12.19) "Passive Cooling": A more healthy and environmentally
progressive alternative to Artificial Air Conditioning". This
2.25 page essay briefly outlines such techniques as: Prudent Avoidance,
Air Tightness, High Levels of Insulation, Venetian Blinds and Insulating
Shades, Radiant Barriers, Light Roofs, Roof Overhangs, Operable
Windows, Chimney Effect Ventilation, Cross-through Ventilation,
Stack Effect, Mass, Air Locks and Lifestyle.
13.00 Drawings/Details: These popular features and details
were developed through our various "real world" projects.
They are not available anywhere else.
13.10 "Cool Closet": popular way to take advantage
of cool outdoor temperatures, for at least half the year, inside
the home to make the fridge run less.
13.11 strawbale "Wall Access Port" (described in 8.00
above): drawings, instructions and photos can be e-mailed to
13.20 "Strawbale Details": Some of the most up-to-date
professional details for strawbale construction include, but not
13.201 window/door buck framing 13.207 interior wall supports for
handrail, grabbar, etc.
13.202 wall section showing sewing technique & sequence 13.208
window jamb & sill blowups
13.203 wall-roof connection showing high heel trusses 13.209 interior-exterior
13.204 frost protected shallow foundation 13.210 corner bracing
13.205 continuous insulated top plate/bond beam/lintel 13.211 Wall
13.206 continuous insulated bottom grade beam 13.212 thermal breaks
at door thresholds
14.00 Reports: Topics: Biological Toilets,
Self-Sufficient Water Systems, Sustainable Home Design, Retrofit
Walls, Retrofitting Townhouses. The retrofit reports are specifically
useful today in light of the Kyoto protocol and the vast opportunities
to save energy, utility costs and CO2 emissions in existing multi-family
projects, while increasing resale value.
14.01 "Alternative Human Waste Management Options: A
Comparative Study (Biological Toilets): Jorg Ostrowski, Karen Braun,
This 70 page well illustrated study objectively compared various
toilet systems for homes and businesses, evaluating various systems
against many different criteria. Conventional household toilet systems
such as the flush toilet with centralized treatment or septic systems
contaminate drinking water and are inefficient as a transport medium.
Conventional toilets are detrimental to the environment in terms
of methods of treatment and disposal of by-products. There are feasible
alternative human waste treatment systems available for household
use that have favourable characteristics over conventional systems.
A classification of toilet types was developed based on the method
of toilet function and waste treatment. Through the "Comparative
Inventory Chart of Household Waste Treatment Systems", each
option is evaluated according to a set of detailed criteria. For
the Environmental Impact Category, the stationary and mechanical
types of composting toilets are rated the best. Taking into account
all criteria within each category, the retrofit toilet devices rank
The "Comparative Inventory Chart" is a useful tool for
the evaluation of current and future toilet systems. It is also
useful to determine the most appropriate alternative household human
waste treatment system for various situations because the criteria
ratings can be altered to reflect specific considerations.
The Table of Contents is broken down into the following sections,
starting with: Abstract, Executive Summary, Acknowledgements, Company
Profile, List of Figures, and List of Tables and Graphs.
The section entitled, "Introduction", discusses: History
of Human Waste Management, Current Methods of Human Waste Management,
Importance of Water Conservation, Human Physiology and Health.
The section entitled, "Deterministic Criteria for the Comparative
Inventory Chart", discusses the following criteria under 5
main categories: Aesthetics: House Integration, Odourless, Quiet
Operation and Resale Marketability; Convenience: Durability, Ease
of Code Approval, Fail Safe Devices, Local Availability, Low Maintenance,
Operational Simplicity and Retrofit Adaptability; and Cost: Do-It-Yourself
Installation, Low Operating and Maintenance Costs, Low Purchase
Costs and Low Repair and Replacement Costs; Environmental Impact:
Chemical-Free, Energy Conservation, Low Contamination Risk, Low
Embodied Energy, Minimum Waste Removal, Recycled Materials, Regional
Application, Safe and useful End Product, Self-Sufficiency, Various
Wastes Handled, and Water Conservation; Health & Safety: Accident
Prevention, Fire Prevention, Hygienic, Minimum Waste Contact, Pest-Free,
and Temporary Containment.
The "Classification of Toilet Systems" was broken down
into5 separation categories: Biological Toilets: Composting (Stationary),
Composting (Mechanical), Composting (Assisted); Chemical Toilets:
Oil Flush, Portable, and Recirculating Fluid; Physically Processed
Methods: Freeze, Incinerating, Packing and Vacuum; Standard (Conventional)
Toilets: Outhouse Privy, Regular Flush (22.5 litres), and Standard
Septic.; and Water-Based Toilet Systems: Aerobic Tanks, Algae Digester,
Low Flush (1-7 litres), Retrofit Devices (11.5-19.5 litres), and
Ultra-Low Flush (0.6-1 litre).
The report then moves into a discussion of the results from the
"Comparative Inventory Chart", followed by a Summary of
Questionnaire Responses, Conclusions, Recommendations, References
and Appendices. This report includes: 29 Figures, 2 Tables, and
14.02 "The Sustainable Home Water System" at the Alberta
Sustainable Home/Office: Jorg Ostrowski, Karen Braun, ACE-Inc.
This 5 year study monitored potable and reuse water. It reduced
total residential water use by 78% compared with average Calgary
Collected rainwater is treated on demand to satisfy potable water
requirements and meets the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines
(1996) for all parameters tested, however aesthetic objectives are
slightly exceeded for temperature.
Heat from greywater is reclaimed through the counter-current and
drum storage greywater heat exchangers contributing 7.4% and 4.4%
respectively to hot water heating. Combined in-series operation
accounts for 16.8% of the hot water heating required at the Alberta
The greywater is treated using slow sand filters, soil box subirrigation,
and a GreyWater Garden Wall. The treated greywater conforms to non-potable
water guidelines from several U.S. states, apart from the elevated
levels of total suspended solids. This "reuse water" satisfies
86% of the total water demand (i.e. ultra low flush toilet, bathing,
clothes washing and subsurface irrigation).
The Sustainable Home Water System (SHWS) is a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly,
and safe home water system which can easily be installed in new
homes, and SHWS components can be incorporated into existing residential
water systems. Maintenance and operation requirements are inexpensive
and require limited time, however, a complete understanding of the
system is required. Further research, monitoring, adaptation, improvements
and refinements to the water treatment system will continue as time
and resources are available.
The Table of Contents is broken down into 7 major headings as noted
below, with subheadings. The report starts out with an Abstract,
Executive Summary, Acknowledgements, a List of 7 Figures and a List
of 19 Tables.
The "Introduction" discusses the Objectives of the study.
"Sustainable Home Water System (SHWS) Design" discusses
both: Water Demand and Water Supply with the help of 3 Tables.
"Description of the Sustainable Home Water System (SHWS)"
discusses: Rainwater Collection; Potable Water Treatment and Supply;
GreyWater Heat Exchangers; GreyWater Treatment and Reuse Supply:
Slow Sand Filtration, Soil Box Subirrigation and GreyWater Garden
Wall; with the aid of schematics, tables and drawings.
"Water Quality for the Sustainable Home Water System"
discusses the following topics: Water Quality Monitoring Objectives;
Water Quality Monitoring Protocol; Water Quality Monitoring results:
Potable Water System Quality, GreyWater Quality, and Reuse Water
Quality; Water Quality Discussion; and Water Quality Recommendations.
"GreyWater Heat Exchanger (GWHX) System" discusses: GreyWater
Heat Exchanger Precedents: Counter Current GreyWater Heat Exchangers
(CCHX), and Drum Storage GreyWater Heat Exchangers (DSHX); Design
Description of GreyWater Heat Exchangers: Counter Current GreyWater
Heat Exchangers, and Drum Storage GreyWater Heat Exchangers; GreyWater
Heat Exchanger (GWHX) Monitoring: GWHX Monitoring Objective/Performance
Criteria, GWHE Monitoring Protocol; GreyWater Heat Exchanger Data
Analysis; GreyWater Heat Exchanger Monitoring Results: Counter Current
GreyWater Heat Exchanger, Drum Storage GreyWater Heat Exchanger,
In-Series Operation of the GreyWater Heat Exchanger System; GreyWater
Heat Exchanger Discussion; and GreyWater Heat Exchanger Recommendations.
"Performance Analysis of the Sustainable Home Water System"
discusses: Actual Water Demand for the Sustainable Home Water System;
Capital Costs for Sustainable Home Water System; and Integrated
Savings Account (Energy, Greenhouse Gases, Environmental Credits,
Externalities and Societal Savings): Operational Costs; Environmental
Savings; A 10 and 20 Year Forecast; Security of Supply and Service,
Trends, Precedents; Water and Sewage as Precious Resources; and
Politics of Water.
The report ends with Conclusions on Government Involvement and
Compliance Issues, Recommendations, References and 8 Appendices
on Monitoring Data.
14.03 "Design of a Generic Sustainable House", Jorg
Ostrowski, Tony Argento, ACE-Inc.
The Alberta Sustainable Home/Office began with this 230 page research
effort that combined a literature search, study of precedents, selection
of criteria, initial architectural drawings and computer simulations.
The main idea was to develop a prototype sustainable home that developers
could use in tract housing in the future. It must be remembered
that this study became the foundation for continued research, improvements
and evolution as time went on, so that in the end, all environmental
targets have been met or far surpassed in the actual construction
of the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office.
Sustainable Development refers to the use and treatment of the
environment and its raw materials and resources in a manner which
will not affect the ability of future generation to do the same.
Concern over the state and preservation of the environment has fast
become a matter of high priority for governments, industry, trade
and professional associations, and the public. Using the principles
of environmental protection and recognizing that affordability must
also be preserved to promote marketability, this project encompassed
the detailed design of an affordable sustainable house.
Specific project objectives included:
1) the identification of environmentally responsible features and
techniques that can be incorporated into the design of a single
detached dwelling in a
cost-effective manner with no adverse effect on the saleability
of the house in the mainstream urban market;
2) the production of detailed working drawings
3) validation of the cost of the resultant sustainable house
Through personal expertise, the assessment of information gathered
from existing literature, and consultation and interviews with industry
representatives, the project team developed a set of environmental
criteria, which could be used to quantify the performance of the
house to be designed against that of a similarly sized conventional
house. These criteria included but were not limited to, quantity
of lumber used, electricity and water consumption, heating/cooling
requirements, generation of pollutants, and overall energy impact.
In the preliminary stages of design, a comprehensive and all-encompassing
list of environmentally beneficial features was compiled. The list
was closely examined in terms of marketability of the various features.
Those deemed detrimental in terms of saleability to the urban consumer
were discarded. Surviving elements were subjected to cost examination.
The benchmark for this examination was the 3-bedroom 4-level split
house used by Alberta Municipal Affairs in its annual House Cost
Comparison Study. As required, the list of environmentally beneficial
features was further culled, by discarding items in the order of
least preference, to maintain unit costs compatibility with the
benchmark house. Remaining items were then incorporated into the
detailed working design of the generic sustainable house.
The resultant drawings and specifications were then submitted to
3 Calgary builders for detailed pricing and to the City for confirmation
of compliance with municipal requirements. As necessary, further
refinements concerning price and physical form were carried out.
The final design of the sustainable house featured: slab-on-grade
construction; exposed (patterned) concrete floors in some areas;
an airtight, energy-efficient envelope; high performance glazing;
a liveable attic; a waste recycling and composting centre connected
to the kitchen; an integral solarium (greenhouse); passive solar-assisted
domestic water and radiant floor heating system; mechanical ventilation;
greywater recovery and reuse; rainwater collection; energy-efficient
lighting and optimum daylighting; and specific-purpose photovoltaics,
to name a few. Special efforts were expended to ensure that non-toxic
or very low toxicity materials were specified throughout. The compact
3-bedroom design contained 1175 SF on the main floor and a fully
developed attic area of 375 SF, for a total of 1550 SF of living
The house would require 20% less lumber to build than would a similarly
sized conventional house. Calculations indicate that electrical
and water consumption could be reduced by 72% and 67% (respectively)
compared to a conventional household. [Note: Report 12.02 indicated
83% reduction.] Natural Gas consumption is estimated to be 79% lower
than conventional space and hot water heating requirements. [Note:
A 100% reduction in natural gas was achieved since there is no NG
line, furnace or boiler.] Researchers were not able to quantify
pollutant generation and overall (embodied) energy impact criteria
of the house because of the lack of existing and available data
in these categories. The design philosophy, however, placed great
emphasis on minimization in this regards.
The project demonstrated that the principles of environmental responsibility
can be cost-effectively applied to housing in a manner that does
not detract from the marketability of the house, with minimum lifestyle
adjustments. Benefits can accrue to all involved, including material
manufacturers, developers, builders, and consumers. Most importantly,
investment in sustainable housing constitutes investment in the
preservation of the environment and in a sustainable future.
The Table of Contents is broken down into the following 9 main
sections, with 10 Tables, 8 drawings and 4 Appendices: 1) Executive
Summary, 2) Data Collection, 3) Precedents of Sustainable Buildings
and Projects, 4) Residential Construction and Post-Occupancy Waste,
5) Selection and Quantification of Performance Criteria, 6) Design
and Specifications, 7) Comparative Performance, 8) Cost Analysis,
9)Conclusions. Subheadings are outlined below.
1) "Executive Summary": Introduction, Focus and Objectives
of the Work, Study Approach, and Report Structure.
2) "Data Collection": Literature Search, Industry Questionnaire,
and Market Trends.
3) "Precedents of Sustainable Buildings and Projects":
Hamilton Solarium, Calgary Alberta Canada; Stampede SunSeed, Calgary
Alberta; Silver Willow Pheasant Farm Lodge, Carstairs Alberta; Stollery
House, Devon Alberta; Environmental Resource Centre, Edmonton Alberta;
Chareve Community, Rural Alberta; Ecology House, Toronto, Ontario
Canada; Northwood Estates, Nova Scotia Canada; Biosphere II, Arizona
US; Integral Urban House, California US; Meadow Creek, Arkansas
US; Solar 1 Subdivision, Phoenix Arizona US; Centre for Alternative
Technology, Wales, UK; Dutch Policy on Global Warming, Netherlands;
4) "Residential Construction and Post-Occupancy Waste":
Residential Construction Waste, Post-Occupancy Waste, and Dealing
5) "Selection and Quantification of Performance Criteria":
Lumber, Electricity, Water, Heating & Cooling, Indoor Environment,
Energy Impact and Conservation.
6) "Design and Specifications": Drawings
7) "Comparative Performance": Lumber, Electricity, Water,
heating/Cooling, Indoor Air Quality, and Energy Impact.
8) "Cost Analysis": Target Cost, Determination of Actual
Selling Price, Paybacks, and Cost Summary
The report ends with "Conclusions", a Bibliography and
14.04 "Advanced Sustainable House": Jorg Ostrowski,
Helen Ostrowski, Orian Low and Tony Argento, ACE-Inc.
Shortly after the "Design of a Generic Sustainable House"
(see 14.03 above) was completed, we began to refine the previous
work with this submission to the Advanced Houses Competition. We
were chosen as one of the 14 winners from across Canada in Stage
1, and submitted our Stage 2 report to the competition. Due to ulterior
motives and political manoeuvring behind our backs by a local lobby
group worried about our success, Alberta lost its opportunity to
participate in this national program. However, after an initial
shock at this turn of events, it quickly became clear it was a blessing
in disguise. Today the [Alberta Sustainable Home/Office] still bears
witness to its success using only about 25% of the purchased energy
of the Advanced Houses and having been visited by about 70,000 people
from around the world. It is still open to the general public after
10 years of "Open Houses".
This 140 page research effort combined: technical innovation, project/business
plans, selection of criteria, identification of a multi-disciplinary
team, refinements to architectural drawings, and further computer
simulations. It must be remembered that this submission, together
with its predecessor report, became the vehicle for continued refinement
and evolution as time went on, so that in the end, all environmental
targets have been met or far surpassed in the actual construction
of the [Alberta Sustainable Home/Office].
The Table of Contents is broken down into 3 sections: Introduction,
Application Form and Appendices. The subjects of greatest interest
The "Introduction" begins with: Summary Sheet #1: House
& Site Statistics, and Main Features; Summary Sheet #2; Energy
& Environmental Targets, and Chief Participants.
The "Application Form" is broken down into 5 subsections,
1.0 Technological Innovation: Potential Prototypes(s); Potential
Innovations (features, methods, products, options); Monitoring and
Assessment Plan; and
Ability to Commercialize Successful Prototypes or Concepts
2.0 Technical Requirements: Predicted Energy Performance; Equipment
Information and Options; Appliance Information; Lighting; Outdoor
Peak Electricity Control; Fan Energy; and Environmental Requirements
3.0 Project Intent and Publicity Plan: Project Purpose; Issues Addressed;
Prospects for Industry Adoption; Publicity Activities; Technology
Transfer, and Activities
4.0 Project Funding: Proposed Project Budget; Financial Contributions;
Contributions of Goods and Services; and Approximate EMR Funding
5.0 Project Management: Project Team; and Proposed Deliverables
There are 13 Appendices as follows, with the "Drawings"
and "Energy & Photovoltaic Calculations" sections
being the main focus.
1.0) Drawings: Site Plan & Landscape Layout; Main Floor Plan;
Attic Floor Plan; South & West Elevations; North & East
Elevations; Sections; Optional Attic
Rental Suite; Foundation & Framing Plan; Main Floor Radiant
Layout; Mechanical Schematics; Radiant Floor Heating Notes; Main
Floor Electrical Plan; Attic
Electrical Layout; and Photovoltaic System Schematic.
2.0) Tasks & Timeline
3.0) Critical Path (Schedule)
4.0) Energy & Photovoltaics Calculations: HOT 2000; PV- Worksheet
Summary; PV - System Performance Analysis; PV- Design Summary; and
PV - System
Design Manual; Worksheet #1: Site Conditions; Worksheet #2: Load
Estimator; Worksheet #3: Battery Bank; and Worksheet #4: Array &
5.0) Annual Fossil Fuel & Environmental Cost Avoidance Chart
6.0) Biological Air Cleaners & Pollution Controllers
7.0) Environmental Report Card
8.0) Monitoring Plan & Costs
9.0) Business Plan
10.0) Promotion Plan
11.0) Media Events:
A: Advanced Sustainable House:
News Release of Nov. 29, 1991; Calgary Herald, Nov. 29, 1991; Calgary
Herald, Dec. 28-29, 1991; and Natural Life Magazine, Jan. 1992.
B. Sustainable House:
Canadian House & Home, Feb/March 1991; Environment Views, Dec.
1990; Grande Prairie Herald Tribune, Aug. 30, 1991; Grande Prairie
Tribune, Oct. 1, 1991; and Calgary Mirror, June 1, 1991.
C. Other Work:
Calgary Herald, Nov. 18, 1990; Calgary Herald, Oct. 28, 1990; Calgary
Herald, July 30, 1990; Calgary Herald, Oct. 22, 1984; Calgary Sun,
1991; Globe & Mail, April 1991; Calgary Herald, Nov. 29, 1991;
Calgary Herald, Oct. 21, 1991; Edmonton Journal, May 22, 1990; Edmonton
Grande Prairie Herald Tribune, June 7, 1990; and Kitchener Free
12.0) Sealed Combustion Range
A. Direct Involvement: Calgary Home Builders Association representing
industry (Note: Not used. See note above) ; Soltech Housing Calgary
Ltd. as a
builder; the City of Calgary: Mayor's Office for land, Electric
Department for PV grid-interconnect, and Waterworks Department for
conservation expertise; Alberta Environment for research & contacts;
Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada for IRAP funding;
Western Natural Gas for sealed combustion gas range; Nu-Tek Plastics
for airtight electrical boxes; Horizon Technologies Inc. for home
Visionwall Technologies Inc., for high performance windows; C"MAX
Technologies for composite roofing tiles; Alta-Therm Industries
Ltd. for window
technology; Healthy Calgary (Dr. David Swann) for indoor air quality;
Alberta Association for Environmental Health for Kinesiology and
Products Ltd. for roofing tiles; Can-Cell Industries Inc., for cellulose
insulation; Tycor International Inc., for surge protector; Soltek
Solar Energy Ltd., for
photovoltaics; The Natural Stain Company of Canada for environmentally
sound paints; Dr. Robin Basu, electrical engineer, for photovoltaics;
Barker, mechanical engineer, for solar thermal and radiant floor
heating; George Hegmann, mechanical engineer, for solar thermal
and greywater heat
B. Indirect Involvement: Alberta Research Council; Alberta Municipal
Affairs; Alberta Economic Development and Trade; Environmental Network;
Thermoelectric; Bentek Corporation; and the Environment Council
The submission ended with the professional resumes of Jorg Ostrowski,
Helen Ostrowski, Tony Argento and the consultants.
14.05 "Retrofit Wall System for Residential Housing",
Jorg Ostrowski, Rob Chapla, ARE-Inc.
This 18 page report reviewed various options for increasing air-tightness
and greater insulation values for average 2x4 walls. The study is
broken down into the
following sections: Summary, Introduction, Form & Content, Conclusions,
Recommendations, and References.
Under "Form and Content", 3 main retrofit systems were
considered: Rigid Board Insulation as Sheathing, Curtain Wall as
Stand-Off Retrofits, and Spray-on Retrofit Insulation.
Some of the 43 criteria used for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses
of insulation materials included: Insulation Type, R-Value/Inch,
Thickness, R-Factor @
Thickness, Number of Layers, Functional Air Barrier, Permeance,
Acoustically Absorbent, Smoke and Fire Resistance (Flame Spread),
Water Absorption Resistance (% volume), Non Toxic Material, Air
Movement, R-Value Stability, Acceptance of Stucco, Additional Sheathing
Requirement, Availability, and Thickness.
Some of the criteria or considerations for determining "wall
system" include: Thickness, Standard Construction, Simplicity
for Contractor, Simplicity for Homeowner, One Trade, Special Equipment,
Basement Retrofit, Roof Retrofit, Windows Retained, Eave Retained,
Ledger Plate, Rafter Support, Minimal Flashing, Setback Problems,
Tyvek, Finish Compatibility, Impact Resistance, Repair, Thermal
Break, Thermal Bridge, Energy Input (BTU/SF/R), Renewable Raw Materials,
and New Construction.
The main cost criteria consisted of cost (cents/SF/R).
The report ended with a Summation, Conclusions re: Insulation and
Wall System, Recommendations, and References. 2 pages of details
and photographs were included. 1 large blueprint shows a standard
old house and 8 details using the recommended system. Another large
blueprint shows a "Comparative Inventory of Various Retrofit
Wall Systems" in a matrix of Systems with Photographs, Horizontal
Section, and Vertical Section, evaluated against 46 criteria.
14.06 "RecoFit House", Jorg Ostrowski, Helen Ostrowski,
Orian Low and Tony Argento, ARE-Inc.
This submission to the "CMHC Healthy Homes Design Competition"
in 1992, was presented in both a Report and presentation board format.
Our entry received an Honourable Mention. There were no winners
in the category of Single Family Home. The 112 page Report &
Appendices contained the following sections, with
subsections noted, where appropriate.
here: underlining & order (according to dates, alphabetical,
etc.?), present tense
Occupant Health: Indoor Air Quality; Water Quality; Light Quality
& Levels; Sound Levels; Electromagnetic Fields; Barrier Free
Suite; and Fire Safety.
Energy Efficiency: Embodied Energy; Design Heat Loss; Energy Requirements:
Energy for Heating, Energy of Ventilation, Energy for Cooling; Renewable
Systems: Solar Thermal - Air, Solar Thermal - Water, Solar Electrical
- Photovoltaics, Solar Electrical - Wind; Biomass - Wood Heat; Destratified
Heat; Electrical Load Changes; and Home Automation.
Resource Efficiency: Material Selection & Use; Management Policy;
Water Conservation: Rainwater, GreyWater, Toilets, Showers, and
Faucets; Durability & Longevity; Architectural Design; Recycling
Centres and Space Stretchers.
Environmental Responsibility: Emissions: Combustion By-Products;
Waste Water: Sewage; Community Planning: Site Planning; Hazardous
Waste: Landfill & Disposal; Plants as Air Filters; and Lifestyle.
Affordability, Economic Viability & Payback: Affordability;
Practicality; Adaptability; Marketability; Sweat Equity; Rental
Suite; Home Industry; Preferential Mortgage; and Tax Benefits.
There are 21 Appendices in 4 main categories, Occupant Health;
Energy Audit; Energy Efficiency; Renewable Energy Systems; and Building
The Occupant Health Appendices contain the following sections:
Indoor Air Quality in an Existing House; Mechanical Air Cleaners:
Review & Selection; Housing Characteristics for the Environmentally
Ill: Commentary & Selection; Kinesiology in Construction: Techniques
for Material Selection & Use; Consumer Products for the Environmentally
Sensitive: A Business Man's Perspective; Residential Water Treatment:
Overview & Selection; Chemically Sensitive HRVs: Concepts, Experience
& Features for a Prototype; Biological Air Filters; EMF in 3
Existing Houses: Identification & Measurement.
The Energy Audit Appendices contains the following section: Air
Leakage Test Report: Identification & Quantification.
The Energy Efficiency Appendices contains the following sections:
Energy & Environmental Cost Avoidance Chart: Operating Energy,
Water & Pollution Reductions; Heat Loss/Heat Gain Calculations:
HOT 2000; Indoor Air Quality Tools; Home Automation: Design &
Selection of Equipment; and Energy Efficient Appliances: New &
Retrofit (Fridge, Washing Machine & Furnace Fan).
The Renewable Energy Appendices contain the following 2 sections:
Solar Electric: Photovoltaics (Energy Contributions); and Photovoltswagen:
Solar Retrofitted Golf Cart as Commuter Cart.
The Building Plans Appendices contain the following sections: Architectural,
Electrical and Structural (Axonometric of the Basement, Main and
Second floors before and after RecoFit); Sections: N-S Section,
E-W Section, Building Section (Before & After); Elevations:
South (Before & After); North (Before & After); East (Before
& After); West (Before & After); Site Plan: Site & Landscape
Plan (Before & After); Site & Landscape Planning (Integrated
Sustainable Approach and Edible, Medicinal, Energy Conserving &
CO2 Landscaping); and Cost Data.
The Product Information Appendix is a compilation of new product
information, with the following sections, which are detailed above:
Occupant Health, Energy Efficiency, Resource Efficiency, Environmental
Responsibility, Affordability, and Economic Viability & Payback.
A Bibliography was also included.
14.07 "Self-Help Retrofit Manual for Owners of Multi-Family
Housing Units": This 61 page report by Jorg Ostrowski of
ARE-Inc, for a 3 year grant under the Alberta/Canada Energy Resources
Research Fund was undertaken at a 43 unit Housing Co-op. The Table
of Contents includes the following 6 sections: Executive Summary;
Introduction; Objectives, Description of Retrofit Techniques, Conclusions,
and Recommendations, as detailed below.
The section entitled: "Description of Retrofit Techniques"
is divided into the following subsections: Introduction; Retrofit
Techniques Tested: Air Locks, Air sealing, Automatic Combustion
Air Control, Furnace Interrupters, Furnace Maintenance, Indoor Dryer
Vent Kits, Set-Back Thermostats, Water Conservation, and Window
The section entitled: "Other Potential Retrofit Measures"
is divided into the following subsections: Basement Floor Insulation,
Basement Wall Insulation, Duct Sealing & Insulation, Energy
Cost Indicator, Hot Water Tank Blanket, Low Flow Shower Heads, Pipe
Insulation, Return Air Combustion Control, and Low Flow Restrictors/Aerators.
General and Specific conclusions are given to Professionals, Government,
and Designers and Architects. Many diagrams and photographs are
14.08 "The Hood River Precedent", is a 10 page
1987 Report by Jorg Ostrowski of ARE-Inc., to provide a general
introduction to the landmark significance of retrofitting on a community
scale that was unique in the world, at that time. This $21 million
project, involved many levels of government, power companies and
citizen groups. About 3,100 electrically-heated homes in the Town
of Hood River Oregon, were "weatherized" withe energy
saving techniques. To be cost-effective, $1.15 could be spent on
retrofitting then, to save 1 kWh in the future. A 28% demand reduction
was expected to free up enough rediscovered (saved) power for use
elsewhere, to avoid borrowed capital costs, rate increases, and
new power plant construction. Maintenance costs and energy losses
along the grid were also expected to decline significantly. Many
peripheral studies on participation and attitudes, computer simulations,
indoor air pollution, economic impact, house doctoring and air-leakage,
have also occurred. This demonstration project has also shown that
residential energy users are capable of producing significant amounts
of available electrical energy by conservation and retrofitting
measures. 4 photographs are included.
14.09 "Gas Consumption Analysis" is a 7 page short
form or 66 page long form,1987 Report by Jorg Ostrowski of ARE-Inc.,
which charts the energy consumption records of 43 multi-family housing
units between 1982 and 1986. Several graphs depict the natural gas
1) tenured units (long term residents) compared to the overall average
consumption (including high turnover units)
2) end units versus interior units
3) housing units according to block and orientation, and
4) monthly heating consumption per heating degree day.
Compared to single family houses, these 1100 SF units only consumed
half the natural gas (about 66 GJ) per year compared to the same
sized single family detached house. Most units could easily save
19%to 32% of their space heating costs by adopting more conserving
lifestyles as already modelled by other units within the same development.
Energy conserving retrofits, although effective, may sometimes seem
to increase consumption. Two similar households may vary as much
as 200% in their annual space heating energy demand and costs. This
multi-family housing project failed to achieve a significant downward
trend as was the pattern in Calgary during the same time. Part of
the reason may have been the absence of equity ownership in the
units and thus no personal commitment or return-of-investment to
warrant improvements to a rental unit.
14.10 "Set-Back Thermostats" is a 4 page short
form or 26 page long form,1987 Synopsis by Jorg Ostrowski of ARE-Inc.,
which charts the the relative merits of 9 well known set-back thermostats
through a set of 39 criteria. This was supported by a discussion
of the advantages and disadvantages, with appropriate graphics for
the selection of the most cost-effective and best performaing devices
on the market, based on an analysis of literature, specifications
and laboratory results. The "Comparative Inventory Chart"
is a 1 page sysnopsis of the report, in blueprint format, particularly
useful for homeowners, property managers and energy professionals
to assist in the selection of the most appropriate device. Many
set-back thermostats are too complicated to install and operate.
Prices should not exceed $50.00. According to lab tests, they can
reduce energy consumption by 11%. Many "Add on" devices
that utilize existing thermostats, are more appropriate than ones
that replace them. The 3 most cost-effective devices, regardless
of price are: Autostat by First Alert, T100 by Johnston Controls,
and Magicstat 2000 by Quad Six.
14.11 "Hand Held Energy Audit Tools" is a short
4 page summary or 20 page long report was done by Jorg Ostrowski
of ARE-Inc. in 1987. It compares 18 different energy audit instruments
useful for locating and quantifying heat-loss in a building envelope.
This document is meant for building owners, managers and scientists,
engineers, designers and architects, consultants, utility companies
and government departments responsible for reducing energy waste
and operating expense. Included, is a "Comparative Inventory
Chart" - a set of 2 blueprints giving a detailed relative evaluation
of each tool according to 27 criteria. Included are such devices
as the: Window Energy Meter, Maximum/Minimum Thermometer, Infiltrometer,
Digital Contact Thermometer, Heat Sniffer, Cold Sleuth, Multi-Channel
Thermometer, Air Snooper, E/One Snoop, Heat Sleuth, Microscanner,
Ultra-Sound Leak Detector and the Infrared Digital Thermometer.
Recommendations are given for a generic energy audit tool that would
feature multiple functions, easy operation, maximum cost-effectiveness,
universal acceptance and deep market penetration.
14.12 "Computer Simulations - HOTCan" is a 4 page
summary or 36 page long report, completed in 1987 by Jorg Ostrowski
of ARE-Inc. Computer software that was designed for energy-eficient
single family buildings had rarely been tested for multi-family
housing of traditional construction for retrofitting purposes. In
this report, the well known "HOTCAN" program was used
in this way to see what problems would be encountered, and how its
"predictions" compared with "actual" consumption
records. The effects of solar orientation and "block"
versus "individual unit" calculations were compared to
historical energy consumption records. One interesting result was
that if interior units were air-sealed only (using actual blower
door and weatherization results) any such units can equal or better
the energy performance of a similarly-sized R-2000 home built to
the "Super Energy Efficient Housing Program" standards
of the Canadian Federal Government.
14.13 "Air-Leakage Tests: Housing Units" is a
7 page summary or 29 page long report, completed in 1987 by Jorg
Ostrowski of ARE-Inc. Standard construction results in unnecessary
fuel bills, heat-loss and discomfort, due to excessive and uncontrolled
infiltration. The townhouses at Springhill Ranch Housing Co-op have
greater air-leakage rates and areas than in most similar developments
and detached single family homes in the area. The air leakage rate
@ 50 Pa for standard townhouse units at this complex is 4 ACH, for
air-sealed (retrofitted) units, 2.4 ACH. Air-leakage rates and areas
were reduced 40% by "do-it-yourself" retrofitting without
any work in the attic. Progressive sealing of accessible interior
openings reduced air-leakage by 20%. Window insulation kits have
good potential for reducing air-leakage. Blower door fans are not
a very refined method of infiltration/exfiltration measurement due
to problems in reliability, accuracy and awkwardness of equipment
14.14 "Air Leakage Tests: Windows and Doors" is
a 6 page summary or a 18 page long illustrated report, completed
in 1987 by Jorg Ostrowski of ARE-Inc. Based on initial in-field
testing with a portable air infiltration tester, window and door
openings account for about 10-15%of the total air-leakage of the
townhouses at Springhill Ranch Housing Co-op . Canadian air-leakage
standards are unrealistically low, compared with the standards of
other countries and are in desperate need of being upgraded and
correlated into a single document. Governments should establish
minimum standards for on-the-site, after-installation air-tightness
tests of all window and door openings with the results of tests
mandatory for public display. The use of horizontal sliders should
be banned because of their notoriously poor air-tightness characteristics
and the impossibility of improving in-site performance.
15.00 Strawbale Video Rental: 3 of these
4 videos are made in the US. They serve the purpose of general introduction.
The fire testing video is helpful for building inspectors. They
are available for rent at $5.00/week/video. Reservations are taken
15.01 "Straw bale Workshop": 73 minute video of US strawbale
workshop (Black Range Films)
15.02 "A straw Bale Home Tour": 60 minute tour of US strawbale
homes (Black Range Films)
15.03 "Straw Bale Code Testing: 40 minutes of fire testing
walls useful for building inspectors (Black Range Films)
15.04 "Strawbale Construction" from Eastern Canada (Kim
© Jorg Ostrowski 2003. All rights reserved.