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North Okanagan eco-friendly homes focus of tour

Canadian Federation of University Women present three-home tour Saturday, May 6, as fundraiser
The Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon’s Eco-friendly House Tour returns after a hiatus on Saturday, May 6. The fundraiser tour will feature three homes, including Janet Armstrong and Lloyd Davies’ new net zero home on East Hill (pictured). (Steve Rosset Photo)



After a three year hiatus, the Canadian Federation of University Women’s (CFUW) Eco-friendly Home Tour is back.

Join us on May 6 and see two amazing net-zero homes and one innovative solar-supported residential therapy pool. If you attended in the past, you will have seen how passive house construction principles can create homes requiring minimal energy inputs.

Come and meet some more trail blazing couples who took on the challenge of building net zero homes – the homes of our future.

You’ll hear about low U-factor windows, triple-sealed doors, thermal bridge-free wall designs, airtight construction and heat recovery units. If you’ve been on our tours before, earth tubes, solar panels and xeriscape principles won’t be new to you – but have you seen a solar gain room?

If you are looking for bling – this is the wrong tour for you. But if you are fascinated by people who search at length for land with the perfect orientation, aim for energy efficiency, incorporate multi-purpose design spaces and plan in advance ‘for aging in place’ then you’ll be thrilled to meet this year’s home hosts.

Janet Armstrong and Lloyd Davies’ new net zero home on East Hill satisfies Step Code level 5 requirements. Net metering with BC Hydro allows their 35 solar panels to sufficiently power their home plus charge a Chevy Bolt EV.

As no natural gas is used, no direct greenhouse gases are produced. Earth tubes buried around the foundation help heat and cool the home. As a result, the Heat Recovery Ventilation doesn’t have to work quite as hard and in summer the flow of earth tube air can be increased to provide free AC.

The hot water (HW) system has two integrated components: a passive solar HW panel along with a storage tank in the upstairs solar gain room which feeds pre-warmed water into the main heat pump HW tank in the basement. The waste cold air is then exhausted into the ‘cool’ room.

When asked about their goals aside from energy efficiency, Janet replied, “Being able to age in place was the primary driver for the design. We wanted a level entry with all living requirements on the main floor.” Tour participants will be impressed with how Lloyd and Janet incorporated flexible-use spaces.

In Coldstream, Bill and Catherine Hanson will walk you through their 2200 sq. ft. home, which consumes approximately 60 per cent less energy than a typical new house of the same size. The couple explored simple functional home design and energy efficient building principles for a decade before building. Sitting in their kitchen listening to Catherine’s description of their site selection and construction journey, it was evident that passion lived there.

Bill, a geotechnical engineer, explained that their home is 100 per cent electric and is net zero due to their solar panel system. In other words, the home generates as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis so the net amount of energy purchased from BC Hydro is zero. Their goal was to combine energy efficient building options with smart simple design, to ensure their family’s spatial needs would be met now and in the future.

They retained the services of Heyde Haus, a Lumby construction company which specializes in energy efficient homes. Bill is currently completing the climate resilient landscape plan designed by Kelowna’s Seed and Sparrow. Representatives from both these companies will be available at the Hanson site to answer questions.

A similar passion was echoed at the third residence on the tour, the home of Dave and Robin Orcherton. Eight years ago, Robin, a former nurse at Gateby Care Centre, was hit by a dangerous driver and became a quadriplegic. Three times a week she received therapy in a warm pool at Kelowna Hospital. Then in 2020 the pool closed due to the pandemic. With a touch of dry hindsight humour, Dave explained, “Standing in my backyard, I mused – how hard can it be to build an indoor pool?”

Construction during the pandemic was complicated with supply issues and cost overruns but the couple pushed on. They decided upon a concrete pool with a enclosure made out of ICS block.

Being both an industrial electrician and computer enthusiast, Dave added, “I wanted to make the pool controls voice controlled, enabling anyone in the pool to be able to select music, lighting moods, and spa pump speeds. The pool has multiple steps for exercising in different depths of water which is a little above body temperature. The electric sources are primarily solar and the heated water has natural gas backup. Once the sun rises, all systems are powered by solar electricity. My hope is that the pool will bring some relief and enjoyment for my wife and family year-round.”

The tour will be held on Saturday May 6 between 9:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets at $25 (cash) are on sale at Vernon’s Bean Scene Coffee Shop. All proceeds will go towards scholarships for local students.

The Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon, thanks you in advance for your support. If you plan to go in a group - remember to buy the same colour of ticket. For more info email

Frances Warner is a member of Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon

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