Architect Doug Warner explains the eco-friendly features of his home during the Eco-Friendly Home Tour hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women. The recent tour brought out about 60 participants who were divided into smaller groups for individual tours of each of the seven homes in Vernon

Architect Doug Warner explains the eco-friendly features of his home during the Eco-Friendly Home Tour hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women. The recent tour brought out about 60 participants who were divided into smaller groups for individual tours of each of the seven homes in Vernon

Eco-friendly home tour is a hit

Frances Warner, a member of the Canadian Federation of University Women, writes about the CFUW's recent sold-out Eco-friendly Home Tour

Tickets to the Eco-friendly Home Tour sold out before the Canadian Federation of University Women could finish pinning up all their posters.

The tour of seven homes — four in Vernon and three in Kelowna — was held May 2 and 3. The event raised more than $1,000 with proceeds going towards two scholarships which CFUW provides annually to Vernon students.

Ticket holders saw seven completely different and fascinating homes where owners built or renovated to reduce energy and water consumption and cost. Almost all of the homes employed geothermal systems and harvested rainwater, but they did so in diverse ways.

The Wilson home in Vernon’s Foothills subdivision impressed attendees with 35 photo voltaic panels that produce more electricity than the totally electric house uses, including their 9.6 kW pottery kiln. BC Hydro provided a $318 credit after the first year of PV panel operation. This house may be the first Net-Zero house for energy use in Vernon.

Educator Lloyd Davies and his wife Janet Armstrong described how they retrofitted their 70-year-old East Hill house, xeriscaped their property and made eco-friendly lifestyle changes that helped reduce their energy use by more than 55 per cent.

On the hillside above Okanagan Lake, LEED architect Doug Warner explained how he utilizes siting, building design, and passive solar design principles to reduce his home’s water and energy demands. With local contractor Mark Kemper, he developed a simple and inexpensive geothermal system for conditioning of intake air.

In Coldstream, Brian Guy, a geoscientist and vice president of Summit Environmental Consultants, described how he and his wife Sue have reduced their indoor water consumption to half the Okanagan average and their outdoor water use to a tiny fraction of the Okanagan average, by rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling.

With its cutting edge technology, Brian’s mechanical room was an eye-opener for many participants, however Brian shared how the payback period can be long and how being a first adopter can also mean difficulty finding tradespeople adept in these latest technologies.

On May 3, the tour continued in Kelowna, where UBCO associate professor Denise Kenney and her students from the university’s Eco-art Incubator Project filmed the tour in order to create a documentary.

Designer/builder, and chairperson of the local Cascadia Green Building Council Collaborative, Deren Sentesy toured the group through Ethel Lane House. The 640 sq.ft. laneway home is the Okanagan’s first Living Building Challenge registered project and is on target to meet its certification requirements.

Architect Hugh Bitz explained how his home, situated on an infill lot, is heated without a furnace and cooled without an air conditioner, again by employing passive solar design principles. The insulated panel system used not only saved construction time, it resulted in a tighter building envelope with just over one air change per hour.

The tour concluded with refreshments at the elegant home of architect Matt Johnston and Grace Pontes, owners of Architecturally Distinct Solutions, who described the stringent process of applying for Gold LEED status.

CFUW is grateful for everyone’s support in the fundraiser and offers special thanks to Erik Tamez-Hrabovsky, chairperson of the local BC Sustainable Energy Association, for their assistance.

Participants were so pleased with the tour that they asked CFUW to organize one next year. So, how eco-friendly is your home? Is it designed or retrofitted in ways that generate energy or conserve water? Perhaps you own a rammed earth home, have wind turbines, unique solar panels, or a straw bale house? If you are interested in being a tour host in the future, please email franceswarner@shaw.ca.