Agassiz couple’s desire for comfort and efficiency spawns collaboration.

Situated on a scenic ridge in the Fraser Valley, Dave and Judy Douglas’s new home is nearly indistinguishable from all the other houses in the Harrison Highlands subdivision of Agassiz with its airy, West Coast vibe and spacious and modern open-concept living areas.But the Douglas’ home is decidedly different.When Dave and Judy were on the hunt for a new home in the Fraser Valley, they were drawn to builder Odessa Group’s plans to target ENERGY STAR® qualification in its Harrison Highlands development and challenged Odessa Group’s Nathan Stone to take their new build even further.Stone was eager to support Dave and Judy’s vision.”Dave’s just one of those guys who likes to understand things, and thinks, ‘Why would I want a house like everybody else’s?’” says Stone.And as one of several regional builder participants in Natural Resources Canada’s Local Energy Efficiency Partnership (LEEP) program, Stone was able to offer the Douglases a chance to use new and innovative building techniques at a lower cost.Tight building envelope key to efficient solar power usageNatural Resources Canada’s James Glouchkow, who oversees the LEEP program, said that Nathan and the Douglases benefited from the LEEP program’s keen examination of the most appropriate technologies for specific regions and climates.”LEEP gives builders answers as to what the best new home practices are in British Columbia right now and how builders can explain the information to the homeowner,” explains Glouchkow. “They looked at the most innovative photovoltaic (PV) technology including roof-integrated PV systems. The builders asked three different presenters to look at it from three totally different angles.”Stone applied several of the new practices examined in the program to the Douglas’ home. Complementing the solar panels’ power production, Stone applied one-inch rigid insulation over the entire building envelope—a result of a LEEP collaboration with Owens Corning—to reduce energy use.A tight building envelope reduced unnecessary heat loss, while the modulating heat pump efficiently heats the Douglas’ home on an as-needed basis.”You want to piggyback everything on top of each other,” Dave says.The Douglas’ $30,000 worth of upgrades exceeded Odessa Group’s typical ENERGY STAR standard, achieving ENERGY STAR Plus. Putting into place the many unique features took more time than the six months typically needed to build an Odessa home. But careful planning is key, and Stone says Dave and Judy are considering adding more sustainability features, such as rain barrels, in the future.