Developers going green with energy-efficient homes

Developer says he’s on track to building the highest rated energy efficient home within the Greater Trail area.

Rossland development is following the green path, if you ask a developer who says he’s on track to building the highest rated energy efficient home within the Greater Trail area.

Brothers Dean and Rob Bulfone of Evergreen Ridge are looking to meet the goals of Rossland’s Sustainability Commission by building the first EnerGuide 80 home, which can save an owner up to 50 per cent in annual energy costs over standard construction.

The technology includes an air-source heat pump, drain water heat recovery system, tankless on-demand hot water, high-efficiency appliances, low-e and solar gain glazing on windows and doors, spray foam insulation and more.

“It has been a challenge but in the last few years Evergreen has completed a 10-lot subdivision and we have built six homes in the area, which represent a value of $5 million invested in the community,” said Dean. “We hope that by trying to do the right things – building efficient homes for families, creating local jobs and utilizing local materials and trades – we will help maintain our schools and sustain a vibrant community.”

The Bulfones dream of creating a new family neighbourhood at the end of Rossland’s main street, between Pinewood and Happy Valley, is coming to fruition, with several young families already building at Evergreen.

About a decade ago, Rob was certified as an R2000 Builder, which is the predecessor to the EnerGuide Rating System.

This has come in handy with the brothers’ push to minimize energy consumption.

“We are grateful to have proactive clients at Evergreen that are seeking to maximize the energy efficiency in their home,” said Dean, noting that upgrading a new build with energy efficient mechanics start at about $6,000 while implementing the same high efficiency on an older home can cost up to $20,000.

Starting at the planning stage, the brothers work with a certified energy advisor who analyzes the new housing plans and notes energy-saving components. Utilizing this information, they can then work with a client to select options to incorporate into their home and once construction is complete, the home’s systems are checked to calculate the EnerGuide rating.

The Bulfones are not the only professionals taking environmental initiatives seriously.

Many developers are riding the green wave to not only meet building codes that have changed over time but because alternate materials are now readily available for a reasonable price.

Red Mountain Ventures implemented green elements at its Slalom Creek development – a 67-unit condominium – and are now following suit at Caldera, a new housing neighbourhood just a short walk from the lifts at Red Mountain.

Low-flow fixtures, an energy-efficient radiant floor system that provides even warmth throughout a home and the use of materials with recycled content are some of the land development and resort operating company’s practices, according to Don Thompson, vice president of planning and development.

But the company doesn’t follow an existing rated system and instead has created its own internal environmental guidelines.

“The market place is sophisticated enough that people are looking for a new product, a new home and even with a re-sell home, they want something that they know has been well constructed and has some environmental sensitivity,” said Thompson.

“People really like to participate to every extent that they can in something that is planned and built in a sustainable way.”

The city is also leading by example with Rossland’s Energy Diet.

The Energy Task Force of Rossland’s Sustainability Commission partnered with FortisBC to cut down on energy consumption in existing homes with a pilot program last year that attracted about 250 households that signed up for a free energy audit.

FortisBC gave the energy assessments and distributed $1.5 million in grants to improve homes through Power Smart.

The program – a partnership and collaboration between FortisBC, the City of Rossland (sustainability commission), the Columbia Basin Trust and the Nelson and District Credit Union – also provided a report of jobs to tackle and commitment from the credit union to finance those projects.

“We have more than our share of old buildings in this town, whether it’s old miners’ houses in their third or fourth evolution or older buildings for retail space,” said Aaron Cosbey of the Energy Task Force. “It makes Rossland more sustainable from an environmental and an economical perspective.”