Real Estate and Going Green  

Pushing the boundaries

In part 3 of this series, Five of the World’s Greenest Homes, who says sustainable homes and luxury can't go hand in hand.  This home, built in Toronto, is a great example of what can be done on a budget more in keeping with average Canadians.

These pre-fabricated homes are built on site saving time, energy, and damage to the landscape. They combine unique architecture with healthy and sustainable construction.  This home arrived in pieces by transport trailer and was assembled in less than 3 days and is specially fabricated for the Canadian climate.

With cold weather in mind,  insulation is important.  Triple paned Argon gas insulated windows and glass sliding doors, R38 closed cell blow in insulation, and R50 roofing insulation all maximized the geothermal technology for heating and cooling. Other popular features include 2,100 square feet of living space in addition to 1,000 in the basement. There is also 1,000 of multi level outdoor living space as well as a unique glass enclosed stair tower that allows natural light.

Finishings are locally manufactured where possible, recycled or recyclable products such as recycled quartz countertops are used, low emitting carpets, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood flooring.

Water is also a consideration and conservation is achieved in this home through low flow, high efficiency and high-end plumbing fixtures, an on-demand hot water heating system, a rainwater catchment system and grey water recycling.  The tight building envelope includes brick, FSC certified siding and fiber cement composite to help keep out the moisture.

This home will be seeking the highest LEED certification possible.  Other homes in this project have achieved gold and platinum LEED certification which is available in Canada from the Canada Green Building Council.

We can all do our part for the planet.  In Kelowna there are many resources and companies available to help guide you through a GREEN build or renovation for your real estate. Call Paige Guernsey on her direct line at 250-862-6464 for your green housing questions today.  Last month's feature home can be found here with more pictures. 5 WORLD'S GREENEST HOMES.


Paige Guernsey is a local Kelowna realtor with Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty. Ranked globally in sales year after year, Paige will be able to help you negotiate the road to successful home ownership.


Triple certification for Green home

In the next of our series, Five of the World's Greenest Homes, check out Karuna House in Portland, Oregon that was recently completed and hopes to attain three different levels of high performance building standards:

  1. Passive House standards
  2. LEED Platinum
  3. Minergie Platinum (A swiss label for energy consumption. This house is the first of it's kind in the U.S.)

Designed by Holst Architecture  this incredible home has been a case study providing valuable lessons by looking at the overlaps, similarities, and differences between the above building standards.  The published findings can be seen on Hammer and Hand's website.

All aspects of this home have sustainability in mind. From the insulated foundation, the sealed building envelope (that creates a breathable yet water and airtight enclosure), to site energy generation which will likely bring the home over time to net zero!


4583 Anhalt, Kelowna

Right here in Kelowna's Lower Mission neighbourhood there's a house being built with high performance building standards!  Local architect, Hugh Bitz re-used the old home on the property by moving it onto a new and insulated foundation and then added new windows to increase heating/cooling efficiency.  The new home is being built on the  subdivided lot.  Certain things were considered to maximize use of solar energy.

1) Window's -  The windows were placed to capture as much of the sun's solar energy. The largest windows face south and there are overhangs that will help shade the same windows in the heat of the summer and will allow all the sun to come through when the sun is lower in the winter. 

2) Thermal Mass -  The flooring on the main floor is slab on-grade concrete with radiant floor heat serviced by a hi-efficiency boiler.  Concrete will retain the heat of the sun keeping toes warm year round.

3) High efficiency boiler - Besides heating, the boiler provides on-demand hot water that saves on the cost a hot water tank as well as the cost of heating and storing that water.

4) Heat Recovery Ventilator - This system takes warm 'used' air (i.e. from the bathroom or kitchen) and uses that energy to preheat fresh cool air coming into the house which can then be heated further by the radiant floor system.  This radiant heat starts at the floor and creates more thermal mass as the heat rises through your furniture and other objects.

Check out this graphic that shows how it all works together!  We will be following the progress of Hugh's house so be sure to check back next month for an update on interior finishings and a breakdown of the costs savings! Hugh can be reached at 250-878-5744 or [email protected]

Last month's feature home can be found here with more pictures:  5 WORLD'S GREENEST HOMES


If you're thinking of buying or selling your Kelowna real estate, give Paige Guernsey a call on her direct line at 250-862-6464. Ranked globally for sales year after year, Paige will be able to help you negotiate the road to successful home ownership!

Five of the world's greenest homes

In this series of columns I’ll be looking at five of the world's GREENEST homes.  As most of you know now, there are a wide variety of ways that you can create sustainability in all kinds of real estate.  There’s also as many reasons that people choose this way of keeping their global footprint small.  All over the world, so many are looking for innovative and cost effective ways of saving energy and costs while at the same time reducing their waste and carbon emissions.



Pretty fancy name for a pretty cool house located just north of San Francisco in Belvedere.  Jordan Harris is a sustainability consultant who works hard to convert anyone to hybrid, particularly in their buildings.  He and his wife Julie wanted to exemplify their passion for sustainability and successfully created a modern home that seamlessly integrates all kinds of sustainable building technology. The best feature however, according to the Harris's, is that they have an electric meter that runs backwards and since 2006 hundreds of kilowatts of power has gone back into the grid!

Their remodelled home has so many amazing features and the first order of business for them was to re-connect it to the natural surroundings.  Instead of facing directly into the lagoon and looking out to their neighbor, the residence was rotated 30 degrees which allows the eye to wander over the water to the mountain peak of Mt. Tamalpais.

The house is extremely energy efficient with the following items:

  1. Photovoltaic solar cells
  2. High-efficiency boiler
  3. Radiant in-floor heating
  4. Insulated glazing and low-e coatings on all windows and doors
  5. Insulated solar shades to allow as much or as little solar gain as needed
  6. High-efficiency household appliances
  7. Ultra Touch cotton insulation (a treatment added to walls for added R factor)

Ninety-five percent of the timber was salvaged or sustainably harvested.  Low VOC paint was used on all vertical surfaces including a brick wall that was hidden behind some drywall.  An interesting feature is the large wall in the living area that was coated with an aluminum laminate (applied to recycled substrate) that captures and reflects light.  The floors are bamboo - a sustainable product that's easy to grow and harvest.  The garage floor and the underlay for paving stones outside were made from 30% fly-ash concrete. (Concrete use and manufacture is responsible for 8% of the worlds carbon emissions. Fly-ash concrete mixes waste from coal-burning plants with concrete to make stronger, less ecologically damaging material).  Original elements such as plumbing fixtures and cabinetry were re-cycled where possible.  Old doors and windows were donated to a building resources organization (we have RE-store in West Kelowna.  Remember to donate your gently used building products, appliances, home improvement items and furniture!)  and the old concrete was re-purposed and/or re-cycled.

Besides being one of the world's most environmentally friendly homes, this house is a thing of beauty.  Transparent glass walls allowing an abundance of natural light and a spectacular waterfront garden creates a sensation of continuous space between the indoors and out.  With clean lines and aesthetic beauty this home sets itself apart while at the same time there is little visually about the house that hints at it's tree-hugging soul!

We can all do our part for the planet.  In Kelowna there are many resources and companies available to help guide you through a GREEN build or reno project for your real estate.  Call Paige Guernsey on her direct line at 250-862-6464 for your green housing questions today!


Paige Guernsey is an award winning real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty. Her website if www.kelownahome.com and her email is [email protected]


What is green tourism?

We’ve had a good look at some of the ways we can GREEN up our real estate, now let’s see what’s what in the GREEN business world.  GreenStep Solutions is a local company that's dedicated to "change the world by making business more profitable than business as usual".   Their specific purpose is to deliver sustainability solutions for small and medium sized organizations. Local business Kelowna Toyota had GreenStep Solutions in to develop a sustainability strategy.  Their goals were to reduce waste, water consumption, and energy use.  They succeeded on all levels and save about $12,000 per year in energy costs with a 3 year payback period that they're almost through as this was done in 2011! Congratulations Kelowna Toyota!

GreenStep has recently been contracted by Green Tourism Canada to work with local businesses in Kelowna to assess their sustainability using a plan that has 10 categories and 140 possible items to be graded in such as energy and water consumption, waste and recycling.  Green Tourism started in the UK 15 years ago and there are currently 2,500 certified operators who on average save 20% on their operating costs while providing services with sustainability in mind.  Once graded, these operators will receive a Gold, Silver, or Bronze.


Leading the Pack

There are currently 4 businesses in Kelowna that are looking to explore the Green Tourism Canada designation.

House of Rose Winery in Black Mountain

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Upper Mission

Best Western Hotel in Kelowna

Kelowna Mountain in Upper Mission

I had a chance to speak with Aura Rose, owner of House of Rose and they are getting busy for their Green Tourism assessment.  Funded by Live Smart BC through the Small Business Champion Program, the Rose's received a grant and with some of their own money upgraded the following to their facility:

  1. Air Source Heat Pump
  2. New Energy Efficient Fans and Lighting
  3. Insulation
  4. Solar Hot Water System
  5. Moveable Walls

Their estimated payback for these upgrades was originally 6 years which has now been reduced to 3-4 years with larger than anticipated energy savings already obtained! One of the hurdles they needed to overcome was specific to the wine industry.  The fermentation stage of wine production needs heat and to heat the entire 3,000 square foot building with 22' ceilings has been a big energy waster.  Moveable walls were purchased and when the fermentation process is needed, the walls go up to create a smaller area for this stage.  Also, a lot of water is needed in wine making primarily for cleaning and sterilizing and the solar hot water system has been not only efficient but has been one of the larger cost savings.  House of Rose also follows organic practices. They buy eco-bottles to reduce glass and shipping weight and use cork closures, as cork is a good renewable resource.  They also donate $3 for every case of wine sold to Fresh Outlook Foundation a locally run foundation dedicated to building sustainable communities.  Aura estimates that they have reduced their energy costs by at least 50% and in fact their energy bills are less for the winery than their home which is about half the size. Well done!

Living in Kelowna offers such opportunity to conserve and think long term through sustainability. Sustainability in our homes is a perfect place to start! If you’re thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Okanagan Valley, phone me on my direct line 250-862-6464.

More Real Estate and Going Green articles

About the Author

Paige Guernsey has been a licensed realtor since 1987 and has been a top award winning realtor with Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty in Kelowna consistently since 1991. She specializes in keeping her buyers and sellers educated and comfortable with each step in the process.

Paige is a member of Cascadia Green Building Council, an internationally connected group of people dedicated to the global vision for true sustainability.  She believes that everyone is interested in being more environmentally friendly. From remembering to turn the lights off all the way to building or renovating, our homes are a great place to start!

You can be assured that Paige's attention to detail, negotiating skills, and vast network of skilled associates will pave the way to a successful real estate transaction for you!

Paige can be contacted at [email protected]

Visit her website:  www.kelownahome.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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