Design & Consulting

When a new home is being designed and built there are significant opportunities for improving the energy efficiency, durability and comfort of the new building.  Unfortunately very few of these opportunities are considered.  Often it is because the architect, engineer or contractor, are simply not aware of how to improve the performance of a home.  The result is often a home that meets the minimum standards of code but falls far short of the potential for real energy efficiency and comfort.

There is a lot of buzz about alternative building materials and many of them have exciting potential.  Many of the materials also have significant pitfalls.  By using performance based criteria we can build homes or additions with traditional materials that exceed most of the alternative building materials available.  What it comes down to is using your budget wisely.  If what you care about is how well the end building performs in terms of cost and energy savings, rather than product claims, we are here to help you.

What is the best time in the building process to consider building performance?  The answer is from the start.  In some of our best performing homes, we have been involved with the architect and the contractor throughout the design process.  After the design process we can work onsite during critical phases of construction to ensure that important details are not missed.  Addressing these details when building a new house is far more cost effective than addressing them as an afterthought.  Finally, since we have the capacity to test work that has been completed we can verify that specifications have been met.  Items that you will want to know about your new building include:

  • How airtight is your building?
  • Does your ventilation strategy work for ensuring good quality air?
  • Will your building be positively or negatively pressurized?
  • What tools will be used to verify that the heating and cooling system perform to its stated efficiency, and delivers correctly to each room?
  • What tools will be used to verify that your insulation is installed to meets its stated R-value?
  • Has your heating and cooling system been right-sized for your house?
  • Do you have a room by room heating and cooling load calculation based on actual performance of installed equipment, insulation and construction quality?
  • Will your hot water delivery system get you hot water quickly with little waste at the optimal efficiency and cost effectiveness for your home?
  • Have the gas or propane appliances been tested for carbon monoxide including worst case scenarios?

Buildings are complex.  Ultimately we find that each home is unique and what works well in one home may not work well in others.  There are no blanket recommendations, no silver bullets.  However, addressing your home's performance is a step towards making it more comfortable, more energy efficient, and more cost-effective.