Study will shed light on log home heat efficiency

Study will shed light on log home heat efficiency Local architect Charles McLaren saw fit to weigh in on the energy performance of log homes last week. He assures us that his opinions carry punch because his first degree was in physics. On the basis o

Local architect Charles McLaren saw fit to weigh in on the energy performance of log homes last week.

He assures us that his opinions carry punch because his first degree was in physics. On the basis of this credential, he took me to task over my contention that building codes do not adequately anticipate the real energy performance of solid timber homes.

For what it is worth, my science degree (master of forestry science) taught me to be cautious about what we think we know. Forestry requires observation of nature. It reinforces awareness that there can be a big difference between predictions from theories, formulae, modeling, and laboratory testing – and what is observed in the real world.

The fact is that the energy provisions of building codes – when applied to solid timber buildings -are based on modeling and laboratory work. They project from laboratory experience and limited-case studies into the real world – they are not based on out-in-the-environment data.

A survey of the literature shows that the energy use of truly comparable structures – situated outdoors, with all variables other than wall construction held constant – has never been measured and compared.

Thus we have a disparity between what is predicted and what people experience. People who live in well-built log homes report that their homes are more comfortable and less costly than Mr. McLaren’s application of the Law of Thermodynamics would predict. Indeed, more comfortable than regular homes.

By conventional measures, my home with 10” timbers is equivalent to a 2×4 stud wall. This is nutty. But even though a thousand years of timber home dwellers know otherwise, the data to prove it are lacking. There is indeed something else beyond presumed R values (R1.4/inch of timber) going on with timber homes.

So kudos to the Yukon government for their fair-minded policy that exempts solid timber from an inadequately informed energy performance code. And kudos to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) for undertaking a badly needed study that will at last provide valid comparative data.

Over a full year, SAIT will measure the constant energy consumption of a set of buildings that are sited in the same way and are identical in every respect except for type of wall construction. Several thicknesses of timber homes and several types of stud-wall homes will be tested and monitored. The comparative effectiveness of different energy modeling computer programs will be evaluated as well.

Mr. McLaren calls log buildings “energy hogs” and “unicorns,” but the data proving his opinion do not yet exist. Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.

We are all entitled to our own opinion, but not to our own facts. The SAIT real-world study will give the facts we need to understand how timber homes compare to conventional homes.

Dave Loeks

Whitehorse

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

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read