Energy conservation comes home

Hold on to your hats, everyone, Whitehorse is going to amend the building and plumbing bylaw. At first glance this does not appear the most exciting of topics, but in environmental circles it is turning heads. Whitehorse is proposing amending the bylaw to

Hold on to your hats, everyone, Whitehorse is going to amend the building and plumbing bylaw.

At first glance this does not appear the most exciting of topics, but in environmental circles it is turning heads.

Whitehorse is proposing amending the bylaw to enforce minimum insulation values in all new buildings and additions.

This means that walls, attics, doors and even windows will be required to meet certain insulation values.

For example, the bylaw amendment would have walls be R28 and attics R50.

An example of a R28 wall would mean one layer of R20 insulation, typically six inches (15.24 cm) thick, with a second layer of R8 added, typically three inches (7.62 cm) thick.

The insulation value, or R, refers to the ability of a material to resist heat flow.

The higher the R value, the less heat loss will occur over a given period of time.

Insulation values have also been assigned to floors above unheated spaces, slabs on ground, crawl spaces, doors, windows and footings.

All new houses, condominiums and apartments buildings would be required to be built to these standards.

Another amendment to the bylaw would ensure heat recover ventilators in new housing.

These ventilators take warm, stale air from inside a house and vent it outside while transferring the heat to incoming cold fresh air.

One of the ironies of a well insulated air tight home is that fresh air must be introduced by mechanical means.

By ensuring a house is airtight, along with decent levels of insulation, heat loss is prevented but fresh air access is also denied.

Fresh air is important for human health.

It also prevents humidity buildup and mould getting established in buildings.

Just like humans, buildings have to breathe.

When done using a heat recovery ventilator, there is little heat loss.

Less heat loss means less energy will be needed for heating whether it is in the form of wood, oil, propane or electricity.

This is good news for the environment.

It is also good news for the pocketbook.

Less energy use means less money will be required to heat new homes built to the bylaw standards.

The new, better insulated residences will cost slightly more up front.

But the energy savings should pay for this extra cost within a decade or less.

A lot will depend on the size, style and use of the building.

Because all new residences will be built to the proposed amended bylaw standards it means all new home purchase prices will increase by a small amount.

It will not be a matter of homeowners having to choose between poorly insulated but cheap homes and adequately insulated but moderately priced homes.

Only adequately insulated homes will be available.

And the slight extra cost will be more than recovered through lower heating bills.

The proposed minimum thermal insulation values that Whitehorse is proposing in the amended bylaw are good, but not great.

They are good in the sense that they are better than nothing.

This is what the current building code has for insulation values at the moment.

They could be much better in that the R insulation values and other energy conservation design initiatives could be much higher.

There is an example of that right here in the Yukon.

The design that the Yukon Housing Corporation is using for its new projects is called Super GreenHome.

There are seven main criteria to meet this standard.

This includes having the building pass an air-leakage test and installing a ventilation system that is approved by a certified ventilation adviser.

Typical R values for a Super GreenHome are R60 for the walls, and R80 in the ceiling.

As can be imagined, the heating costs for a SuperGreen house are very low.

What Whitehorse is proposing does not come close to this, but it is a start.

Whitehorse is to be commended for introducing the bylaw amendment.

It is hoped that once it is implemented it will find wide acceptance from home owners, building contractors and architects.

Once the benefits are understood, perhaps then the bylaw can be amended again so that it matches the Yukon Housing Corporation SuperGreen standards.

For more information on the Yukon Housing Corporation Super GreenHome contact 667-5759 or visit www.housing.yk.ca.

Information on the city of Whitehorse proposed energy conservation amendments to the building and plumbing bylaw is available from City Building Inspections. The department can be reached at 668-8340 or on the city website at www.city.whitehorse.yk.ca.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read