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SUPER E® Celebrating The Canadian Way 

Towards a zero carbon future – sharing transatlantic best practice in house building and refurbishment

Leading architects with a particular interest in zero carbon joined other developers and professionals from across the UK construction industry as well as private and social housing providers in the stunning surroundings of Canada House in Trafalgar Square, London, last Thursday.

They were attending a conference to hear from experts from the Canadian Government’s Super E® Programme on how they are moving towards zero carbon in the new build and refurbishment of homes across Canada….. quite an achievement when delegates heard how temperatures across the Provinces can vary from -30˚c in winter to 30˚c in summer – so air cooling as well as heating are important.

Super E® is a technical standard based on the “house-as-a-system” philosophy of design and construction. It provides access to training, technical support, and marketing expertise coupled with a system of verification backed by the Government of Canada, which is an assurance to customers that they are getting one of the best homes available on the market today.

Delegates were also addressed by Neil Jefferson, CEO of the Zero Carbon Hub, who spoke about the challenges facing the construction industry in the UK in dealing with the changes to building regulations over the next decade. Over half of heat lost from traditional housing is through uncontrolled air leakage. The Canadian Super E® system regulates temperature and humidity by delivering air tightness rates 8.5 times better than houses currently built to Building Regulations in the UK. The principle is simple: Build tight - Ventilate right.

Doing things the Canadian way is currently a serious and topical consideration in UK Treasury circles given their success in dealing with their deficit a few years ago, so perhaps the British architects and developers could pick up a few tips from the Canadian construction sector in parallel.

During his presentation, Neil Jefferson said that one of the first things he did when appointed to the Zero Carbon Hub was to look to other countries for inspiration and ideas on how they were dealing with reducing their carbon emissions. Given that 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from homes and Canadians estimate that a third of their country’s energy consumption comes from homes – both countries must share best practice to tackle this challenge over the coming years. All the delegates agreed that the key challenge for the future was to deliver housing that provided:

o Code compliance in the fabric of the structure with a Fabric First approach.

o Low monthly utility bills — to save money on energy costs all year round to protect families from future energy price increases.

o Healthier, more comfortable living space — to enjoy better indoor air quality, stable temperatures, more natural light and healthier building materials in the home.

o A greener choice for the environment — to lower a family’s greenhouse gas emissions, conserve resources, reduce pollution and minimize the household’s ecological footprint.

o Reduce or eliminate costly and now difficult to dispose of site waste

So no matter if you are in Toronto or Torquay, there are lessons which can be learnt from both sides of the Atlantic.

Email: oliver@fuelrefuel.com


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