Sustainable construction technology has been slowly but surely making its way toward residential construction technology. From solar panels to zero-waste homes, Canadian homeowners have more options than ever before if they're looking to cut down on their carbon footprint and be energy efficient in their homes. Learn more about which trends are catching on and how the future may look for home building.
Energy from Top to Bottom
Canada has largely seen geothermal energy being implemented to heat and cool their homes as opposed to solar power. This form of energy uses electricity and a set of compression pumps to interact with the Earth's core. Because the core remains at a stable 15.5° C, geothermal energy decreases the amount of energy used to treat the air. In addition, homeowners can adjust the temperature to fit their own personal temperature needs.
This method does use some outside energy, but it can slash homeowners' energy bills by up to 65%. It should be noted that solar panels have become far more efficient than their original prototypes, so Canada may start to see the balance of geothermal and solar start to even out in the future.
Made in Canada
It's always going to be more sustainable to produce goods in a country than to have them imported. This is a shame because construction companies are often blinded by the initial savings without seeing the environmental impact of the transportation. But the costs for transportation have a way of eating into profits over time.
Canada is starting to see more demand for local products and companies are quickly stepping up to meet that demand. These companies are even finding ways to produce products that were once labeled as exotic. For instance, companies are growing certain bamboo species for home builders who don't want to receive shipments from halfway around the world.
Taking Back the Water
Water waste and utility bills in Canada can be reduced with the help of reclamation:
- Harvesting systems increase the amount of drinkable water for everyone in the community
- Reclaimed water is usually better quality than dam or river water
- Some homeowners have seen their bills cut to $0 with the help of reclamation
- Many older homes in both rural and urban households can be retrofitted with water reclamation systems
Homes made with toxic materials, such as asbestos, are not eligible for retrofitting. However, harvesting is a viable sustainable choice that can help both new and old homes make the most of the water they already have.
There's a lot of trash in the world today, but some companies are turning it into some very valuable treasure. A pair of old jeans doesn't have to fill a landfill when it can instead insulate a home. Bark from a tree doesn't have to sit at the bottom of the forest floor when it could be turned into siding for a Bearspaw new home. Companies are turning used tires into rubber floors and using old wine corks to soundproof walls. These materials are not only innovative, but they're also able to blend in with the aesthetics of the home. Homeowners may even start to see zero-waste homes that are as beautiful as they are efficient.
Limiting Volatile Organic Compounds
A volatile organic compound (VOC) is one that gives off toxic fumes. Drying paint, wallpaper glue, and carpet binding are just a few areas where a homeowner may see VOCs pop up in their daily life. VOCs are exceptionally harmful after constant exposure and can cause everything from asthma to allergies. Builders today are now choosing more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as paint thinner made with citrus or glues made with flour. The number of companies in Canada making these products has skyrocketed, making it easy for builders to get the materials they need at the price they want.
Experimenting for the Future
A sustainable future isn't possible unless we first examine the methodology of the past. Dismissing old techniques as primitive may cause us to miss out on modern solutions. One way companies are trying to meld the two eras together is by augmenting old systems with new ones. For example, mixing soil and clay together to create compressed Earth may not have been practical in Canada where a single rainstorm could threaten the stability of the home. However, if the home is paired with a sophisticated water run-off system, then the material can be protected from erosion.
How sustainable building will really look in the future is anyone's guess. However, we can use the most popular trends as a way of better understanding the priorities of the manufacturers, builders, and homeowners.