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Energy-Efficient Laneway Homes Help Green Vancouver’s Urban Areas

May 29, 2012

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In August of 2009, the City of Vancouver initiated the EcoDensity program, a comprehensive city plan focusing on environmental sustainability. Under the new program, owners of single family homes can construct smaller, “laneway” homes in place of a garage on the city’s numerous back lanes.

“It is lower impact because we are building in already established zones and by densifying these zones we should be able to attract more infrastructure such as public transit,” said Mat Turner, owner of Lanefab Design/Build.

Turner was the first to construct a laneway home in Vancouver. Adding to the inherent environmental benefits of a smaller home, he built the 710 sq. ft. house with the Insulspan® Structural Insulating Panel (SIP) System to save energy. Borrowing from the German Passive House concept, Turner used 10-inch thick SIP walls and a 12-inch thick SIP roof to virtually eliminate space heating. “Because of the efficiency and high insulation value we’re getting, we are able to downsize the heating and cooling systems,” he said

“Most of our heating and cooling is passive, but I’m required to have some sort of space heating, so we have a small amount of electric radiant heating to warm the floor.” In addition to the energy-saving benefits of SIPs, Insulspan’s ready-to-assemble system saves Turner’s crews valuable onsite construction time and lowers their overall construction costs. With a crew of only three people Turner is able to close-in a home in just eight to ten hours.

“We can actually build these homes cheaper and way more efficiently than a standard stick frame house,” said Turner. “Insulspan has been very supportive and they’re always there to give you a hand with any technical issues.”

“Laneway homes are emerging as an excellent way to densify housing in Vancouver,” said Dave Stevenson, Insulspan’s Western Sales Manager. “With SIPs, these homes can be built quickly and with greater energy efficiency.”

View more of the Laneway Photos and project

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