For 11 years, Mandala Homes has been designing and building pre-fabricated round and rectangular home packages in Nelson, BC and distributing all over the globe, with Canada and US being their main market. Along with pre-fabricated home packages, they also sell decking, flooring, trim packages, pre-stained cedar siding, timber frame components and wood window & door packages. Mandala Homes, with their triple-bottom line business model, makes every business decision by taking into account the financial, social, and environmental impact.
Mandala Homes is the only round home builder in Canada and one of only few in North America. Round homes use less building surface to enclose the same square footage as a rectangular building, resulting in less BTUs needed to heat than a conventional home. Mandala Homes’ innovative air tightness design provides a strong barrier from the elements, limiting air leakage and vastly cutting down on heating and cooling costs.
One of the strongest benefits of a round/faceted structure is its natural resistance to strong winds and seismic activity. The round design allows the wind to wrap around rather than push against it and the conical roof prevents roof lifting due to negative pressures over the lee side of the house. The interdependence of all of the building components makes it easy to engineer connectors to tie the building to the foundation system for areas that experience earthquake activity.
They are dedicated to creating positive change in the world through innovative green technology and a focus on using safe, healthy, and sustainable building products. Mandala Homes incorporates a Smart Waste Program in their production facility which minimizes the amount of material ending up in a land fill. The factory is powered by a windmill farm in Northern BC and is heated by a high efficiency wood burning stove; leftover wood cutoffs are burned instead of thrown into the dumpster. They also use sustainable and renewable products and low VOC or non-toxic materials. Mandala Homes also has a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) Designer and Engineer available for any LEED projects. One of their projects in 2010, a health food store in Fort Nelson, won the Best BC Green Business of the Year award.
Through their commitment to innovative green technology, they created The Comfort Wall System. With this system, they have moved from the standard R20 insulation rating to R34 in the wall and R66 in the roof. They use Roxul mineral wool insulation which is created from recycled mineral. The insulation is fire resistant; repels water so the R-value is not affected; completely resistant to rot, mildew, mold, and bacterial growth; and absorbs sound. To limit thermal bridging, a blanket of Roxul Board is used on the outside of the wall, along with the air barrier, creating an air tight seal around the complete building envelope. Stay tuned to their Facebook page on when they are coming out with this new technology.
Along with their dedication to the environment, Mandala Homes also gives back to their community. For example, they support Habondia’s Women in Sustainable Housing (WISH) project. This 30 month pilot project’s goal is to support women survivors of violence and senior women in increasing their money management skills and improving their economic security through obtaining or maintaining sustainable housing.
When it comes to social media, Mandala Homes is quite successful. With almost 5,000 Facebook fans and up to a 75% engagement rate, they have an edge up in the industry. With a post almost every day, Mandala Homes is keeping their fans engaged and informed on the topics of energy efficiency, sustainable building practices, company projects, and the soul of the home. This activity strengthens their brand awareness.read more
The University of British Columbia has re-opened the Biological Sciences Complex, a series of 50-year-old buildings that have been upgraded to become highly sustainable buildings.
Renovations include using sunlight as a natural light source, installing energy-saving heating and cooling systems, installing an exterior water management system and using British Columbia wood products within the building.
UBC received $61.8 million for the project through the government of Canada’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program.
Powered by solar and heated and cooled by geothermal systems, Okanagan College‘s new Centre of Excellence lives up to its title. This new building in British Columbia (B.C.) is a contender for Living Building Challenge qualification — a system that goes beyond LEED Platinum to require both net zero energy and water consumption.
The building will operate both as a setting for classes at Okanagan College as well as a showcase for green building systems and materials, particularly those originating in B.C. Other than a hardwood gymnasium floor (sourced from Ontario), the project features 100 per cent B.C. wood, including pine from beetle-kill affected forests FSC-certified lumber. Wherever possible, the building’s mechanical and electrical services have been left exposed to demonstrate the technology in action, as part of the building’s teaching capacity.
The Centre of Excellence features the a 258 kilowatt-capacity photovoltaic solar panel array, believed to be the largest in Western Canada. It was designed to use around a fifth of the energy consumed by a conventional building of similar size and reuses all of its waste and greywater onsite (after chemical-free treatment by the City of Penticon).
More information on the building’s green profile is available online.read more
The Innovative Clean Energy Fund — the same government program that funded Aboriginal Cogeneration Corporation’s gasification proposal — has granted $1 million to a “bio-coal” production plant in Kamloops.
Nations Energy Corporation, a Vancouver company, will use the funds to build a commercial-scale plant to convert mountain pine beetle wood into clean-burning biomass.
Using a process known as torrefaction — a thermochemical process — and densification, the wood is made more energy dense. The product, fuel pellets, can be used at power stations and in boilers and cement kilns as an alternative to coal.
Nations Energy Corporation could not be reached for comment Monday.
The company’s website indicates it has a secure fibre supply in the Kamloops Timber Supply Area and plans to construct bio-coal facilities and produce bio-chemicals.read more
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) will allow non-FSC-certified wood products to qualify for a pilot LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credit. The change was introduced Wednesday.
Pilot Credit 43: Certified Products is divided into three weighted tiers of 50 percent, 100 percent and 200 percent of one credit. Under this credit, FSC-certified products are weighted at 50 percent—the same as other forest certification programs, including Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).read more
Participate in a one-hour webinar on the UK green build market. The webinar will be delivered by an expert panel drawn from the UK construction sector and cover a range of topics including the main drivers for sustainability in UK construction, and routes to market. The webinar will be of interest to any manufacturer or service firm operating in the greenbuild sector.
Participation is free for BC Wood members.
Date: February 3, 2011
Time: 8:00am-9:00amread more
KB Home’s newest partnership with Martha Stewart, the ruler of an unrivaled domestic design empire and a highly-recognizable trade name, represents a shift towards greener building practices for KB, which at last count was the nation’s fifth-largest home builder. For environmentally conscious buyers, this is great news, but from a financial standpoint, questions still remain. Can big builders, which are used to keeping costs down by building hundreds of homes at a time, based on easily-replicated models, actually incorporate green features into their homes at a price that makes sense for their customers?
Jeff Mezger, KB’s chief executive, thinks so. Sitting with Ms. Stewart in the KB Greenhouse “concept home” in Windermere, Fla.– which has a price tag of $380,000 – for an interview yesterday, Mr. Metzger said KB’s investment in radically green homes is meant ultimately to make green building more of a reality for high-volume homebuilders. The home features a compost bin in the kitchen island, low-emissive paints, energy-efficient insulation, and a host of energy-saving features. The home is billed as “net-zero,” meaning that it produces more energy than it consumes, and it features an electric car charging station in the garage, a sophisticated computer system that monitors the home’s energy expenditures and environmentally responsible building materials.read more
Radical improvements in both the nature and the economics of urban intensification are now emerging from advances deep within the realm of sustainable building design.
Usually, the features that make buildings “green” cost more, and they often need to be justified, at least in purely financial terms, by relatively long payback periods. But this time we have one that actually reduces upfront capital expenditures, significantly. At the same time, it also makes the nature of intensification less intimidating, by making five- and six-storey buildings more viable.
I’m referring to the emerging use of wooden structures for larger and taller buildings, which is gaining momentum worldwide, especially in Austria and Sweden, but also in western North America. Washington State has started permitting some taller wooden buildings; and recent changes to the building code in British Columbia have increased the permissible height of “combustible construction” for residential buildings, from four- to six-storeys.
The initial driver of this push for regulatory change has been a steadily increasing concern over the environmental sustainability of concrete and steel buildings. Energy-hogging processes used in both the extraction of minerals needed for, and the production of, concrete and steel release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
On the other hand, the cultivation and use of sustainable-harvest trees, for construction lumber, actually creates a net carbon sink, even when milling, transportation, and erection requirements are factored in. Recognition of this critical difference is increasingly being reflected in widely used sustainability ratings systems, such as Green Globes.
This important environmental advantage has led researchers to re-examine our long-held assumptions about the fire safety and structural integrity of wooden structures. In the United Kingdom, in the year 2000, one major research project involved the full-scale testing of a six-storey light-wood-frame building.
It performed so well that the UK Building Code now permits taller wooden buildings, provided they are demonstrated to provide fire-safety, and structural stability, equivalent to those constructed of concrete and steel. A nine-storey apartment building was recently completed in London, featuring a wooden structure.read more
Tiny houses are popping up all over the country. Students at Green Mountain College built one with reclaimed materials last semester. They spent $1,927 on materials, acquiring insulation at half price and lumber and windows from the local salvage store. The 8-foot by 12-foot house still needs a solar-powered electrical system, which will be installed early next year.
When complete, the tiny house will be off-grid. Rainwater from a low corner of the roof will be collected and processed in a water catchment system for domestic use.
The home was designed and built through a field-based, interdisciplinary program called REED – Renewable Energy and EcoDesign. It’s a 22-credit program that gives students the opportunity to work on actual green projects.
So far, 19 students worked on the project in Professor Lucas Brown’s design & build course. If you’re interested (a video on the GMC’s website indicates that interest has been strong), it will be sold next Spring when completed.read more
From the trees in your backyard to “Eco Options”TM at the Home Depot: Green building material alternatives are being offered for all parts of the built environment.
While many materials are more readily available for large commercial projects, other, more common items such as zero VOC paints, are becoming a commonplace item on the retail level.
What makes a green building material “green” can cover many facets; Steel is not a renewable resource, but truly recycles, doesn’t down-cycle, and there is ample supply from demolition and manufacturing waste.
Bamboo takes only 3 to 7 years to harvest and very little energy to grow, but a lot of manufacturing and shipping creates a lot of embodied energy.
When assessing the “greenness” of an environmentally friendly building product I generally look at the following criteria:
1) Where does it come from - Is it a readily renewable resource? Is it locally manufactured? How are the raw materials and final products transported?
2) How is it made – What are the ingredients in the manufacturing process? Is there fair trade involved? Does it have a large amount of recycled content? How much energy does it take to produce?
3) How does it affect the environment after it is used – Does the material off gas? What is its care and life span? Is it recyclable at the end of its initial use?
Very few materials can meet all of these criteria and this is not an exhaustive list, but these are essential issues to be weighed initially and balanced out for the best options for each product – one product may work for a certain project but not be feasible for another.
Consumer demand for greener products is on the rise as the general public becomes more informed. This is a beginning. We have a long way to go and along the road there will challenges. Green washing, resistance to change, and comparatively high initial cost are just a few of these hurdles.read more
The Surrey Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is one of 24 buildings certified to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards in the city.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a globally accepted sustainable development rating system, generally used to determine how green a building is. Although some major private developers have jumped onboard with LEED, it is recently changed provincial law, which institutes that all government-funded buildings must be LEED Gold or higher, that has produced a boon of green buildings in Surrey.
Cities around the world like to compare their green credentials based on how many LEED-certified buildings are within their borders. So where does suburban Surrey rank? Higher than one might assume. According to data from the Canada Green Building Council, Surrey has 24 certified buildings either completed or under construction.
While the number may seem high, only five of these developments were financed by private money. The other 19 are recent government projects that had to meet the LEED standard, such as new schools, the new RCMP headquarters, and the new outpatient hospital.
The full list of LEED buildings is as follows:
• Semiahmoo Library (January 2004)
• Surrey Transfer Station (April 2005)
• Czorny Alzheimer Centre – 16850 66 Ave. (July 2005)
• Kwantlen Polytechnic University library expansion – 12666 72 Ave. (January 2007)
• Kwantlen Administration Building – 12666 72 Ave. (March 2007)
• Envision Credit Union Newton – 7322 King George Blvd. (November 2007)
• Kwantlen Cloverdale Campus (September 2008)
• Ministry of Labour office building – 13650 102 Ave. (2008)
• Peace Arch Visitor’s Centre (April 2009)
• Frito Lay Distribution Centre – 11811 103A Ave. (April 2009)
• Warehouse and Cold Storage – 2775 190 St. (November 2009)
• CityPoint towers – 10777 University Dr. (March 2010)
• Woodward Hill Elementary – 6082 142 St (May 2010)
• Adams Road Elementary – 18228 68 Ave (September 2010)
• Maxxine Wright Centre – 13729 92 Ave (September 2010)
• Creekside Health and Housing Centre -13670 94 Ave. (Jan 2011)
• Surrey City Centre Library – 10350 University Dr. (March 2011)
• Alder Gardens YWCA – 138 Street and 70 Avenue (April 2011)
• SFU Podium 2 expansion – 13450 102 Ave. (April 2011)
• Mountain Equipment Co-op Distribution Centre – 13340 76 Ave. (July 2011)
• Surrey Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre – 9750 140 St. (summer 2011)
• SD36 District Education Centre – 14033 92 Ave. (November 2011)
• RCMP E-Division headquarters – Green Timbers (2012)
• SMH Acute Care Tower – 13750 96 Ave (December 2014)
With Vancouver at 111 LEED buildings, and Victoria at 52, Surrey ranks third in the province based on the number of LEED buildings. Cities behind Surrey include Burnaby at 21, North Vancouver at 19, Kelowna at 16, Kamloops at 13, Nanaimo at 11, and Richmond and Maple Ridge tied at eight each.read more
Early this coming year, BC Wood is coordinating a tandem of cost-shared trade shows for the Log Home and Timber Frame sector. Member companies are able to participate in the February 11-13th Log Home Show in Roanoke Virginia and the BC Log Home and Country Living Show in Abbotsford, March 12-13th.
The Roanoke Log Home show will be the first log and timber event that BC Wood has taken on in the US in some time. This past fall, BC Wood’s Log Home and Timber Frame sector advisory committee recognizing opportunities in the Appalachian Mountain region, recommended this show in the US mid-Atlantic Coast. The Roanoke show, Feb. 11-13th, 2011, features log home and timber frame displays, and energy-efficient designs. The attendees at the Roanoke show have a very desirable demographic make-up:
The second show that BC Wood will support its’ members participation at is the Abbotsford Log Home and Country Living Show, March 13-14th, 2011. This show features log & timber builders, and a range of related products and services that go hand in hand with outdoor BC living!
The March 2010 show was marked by a general improvement in the public’s confidence and attitude toward building. BC Wood had 12 companies participating in the last Abbotsford show. All reported positively on the changing attitude of buyers and the quality and quantity of the sales leads they generated from the show.
While most of the exhibitors at this show were manufacturers of log and timber frame structures, there is an opportunity to engage a local customer base that extends well beyond this one sector. Manufacturers of all building and finishing materials, including flooring, roofing, kitchens, doors, windows and exterior finishing materials would find an interested audience in the attendees of the show.
There are still a number of spaces available for BC Wood members wanting to participate in these two up-coming shows. I would encourage any companies interested to contact me at email@example.com of in BC Wood’s offices at 604-882-7100.read more
March 1st-3rd 2011, BC Wood will coordinate the participation of member companies and other Canadian forest products associations at the Ecobuild in London, United Kingdom. BC Wood members participated in the 2009 Ecobuild show reported considerable success. While not saying that business was easy, the mood was extremely positive highlighting that sustainable construction was an issue that was here to stay for the construction and design community in Europe
The Ecobuild 2011 is expanding and will change locations this coming year to London’s ExCel, a larger and more modern facility. In only its 8th year, this annual event has become the World’s largest conference and trade event devoted to green building, sustainability, and modern methods of construction. It is expected that the March show will draw over 40,000 visitors and with the specialty nature of the show, as many as 10,000 of these visitors are expected from outside the United Kingdom.
The Ecobuild show has dedicated a specific section on the show floor for timber products. This year, BC Wood will be located in this area and it will provide an excellent venue for the promotion of a broad range of timber products and building systems. For more information regarding the Ecobuild show, BC Wood’s participation and costs please contact Brian Hawrysh at 604-882-7100 or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the time of writing [September 2010], we have three buildings under construction that have reasonable expectations of meeting the Living Building Challenge. With all this accumulated experience, we have come to the conclusion that it is most important to do the right thing – whether or not this gets you credit under LEED.
It is possible that we have a degree of bias, but we do believe that the structural design of buildings is badly underrepresented in the LEED rating system. While the building structure typically represents 20% of the construction value of the project, it usually contributes to only 3 – 4 out of 70 credits in LEED NC in Canada. Limited to the Materials and Resources section, structure can contribute to a local materials credit, a recycled materials credit, or the certified wood credit should the structure happen to be of Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] certified wood. There is also the possibility of a Design Innovation credit, but in this case any structural innovation will be competing with all the other design innovations there might be in the project.
Even pursuing these few credits has presented us with a dilemma on several projects. The relative scarcity of FSC certified construction lumber in British Columbia can mean that using local lumber [even if certified under another reputable system] can brand the project as less sustainable. Even though local certified lumber is the logical choice, the pursuit of the LEED credit may require the contractor to do some cross border shopping.
In the face of international recognition of other common North American certification systems such as CSA and SFI, the USGBC initiated a review of this issue in 2005. The decision was made to create a LEED Benchmark and offer other certification systems the opportunity to demonstrate compliance and so become eligible for the LEED credit.
In 2008, the USGBC published the first draft of its Forest Certification Benchmark and invited comment from all interested parties. More than two years later, the process is in the fourth draft stage. The Benchmark contains 81 criteria that must be met to achieve compliance, making it unlikely that this will be a straightforward or streamlined process. Again, given the acceptance by other international green building certification systems of non-FSC certified material, this seems an enormous and unwarranted effort for the clarification of a single credit, particularly when other structural materials such as steel and concrete do not appear to be subject to the same scrutiny.read more
McDonald’s has served “billions and billions” under its golden arches. Recently, though, some of its restaurants have been eschewing its golden arches in favor of green ones. In Riverside, California, a McDonald’s branch has switched to green arches, as a symbol of undertaking improvements in its technologies and business practices with the aim of eco-friendliness.
The restaurant chain aims to achieve a LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council for efficiency in energy use and design. To this end, a number of improvements have been made to the restaurant’s business processes and physical plant. For example, it uses low-flow plumbing to conserve water. The plants and trees around the restaurant are drought-tolerant, and require less watering. Even the color scheme of the restaurant is lighter, to help reduce heat emissions. The interior also features recycled denim inside the walls, to help insulate the building.
The restaurant also has 294 solar cells installed, which augment its energy needs.read more
Vancouver-based CEI Architecture Planning Interiors has used British Columbia lumber ravaged by the pine beetle epidemic in construction of a new building at Okanagan College in Penticton.
CEI negotiated with the International Living Building Institute – which urges architects, contractors and building owners to create buildings to the highest standards of sustainability – to use wood from pine-beetle kill forest on the project in lieu of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified lumber.
The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation is the province’s first building to use pine-beetle kill wood as a stand-in for FSC-certified lumber.
The two-storey, 70,000-square-foot structure is built entirely using wood-frame construction.
The post-secondary facility, which will both promote green-construction methods and use its green features to teach students about sustainable building techniques, has been designed to meet the Living Building Challenge (LBC).
The LBC sets out a series of ambitious, environmentally friendly requirements for buildings that CEI architects say exceed LEED Platinum standards.read more
WoodWorks presented eight Wood Design Awards at its Wood Solutions Fair on Sept. 8. The awards recognized regional architects and engineers who demonstrated innovation and excellence in the design of non-residential wood structures. Firms and projects spanned the region, with nominations coming from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
The eight winners were chosen from the pool of nominations by a juried group of six industry experts. In addition to recognition at the Wood Solutions Fair, each firm and project that received a Wood Design Award was featured in a short video presentation highlighting the project’s inspiration and the construction process (see video below).
The following are the 2010 Wood Design Award winners:
Beth Zacherle Photo
|Multi-Family (exterior)||Multi-Family (Interior)|
|Traditional Use (Exterior)||Traditional Use (Interior)|
Winners from the first-ever Built Green BC Awards were announced last weekend and among them was a home from Tofino.
The Eco Rain Forest Retreat, which is also the first Timberframe to get a LEED platinum certificate in Canada, won the “Highest Rated Built Green BC” award. Seven awards were presented to the companies who demonstrated leadership in building environmentally sustainable homes, and John Yap, minister of state for climate change, provided the gala’s welcoming address.
The Tofino home was built by Alpine Timberframe & Design, which is based out of Brackendale, B.C. (between Vancouver and Whistler). The house is about three kilometres from Tofino, near Chesterman Beach. It features low-e argon windows, high efficiency lighting features, an air-tight building envelope and a highly insulated roof system.
Other features include geothermal heating, programmable thermostats, a heat recovery ventilator and the roof harvests 75 per cent of the rainwater and stores up to 1,600 gallons for toilet, laundry, outdoor shower and irrigation use.
The roof also has a conduit and wiring for solar panels and has low volatile organic compounds paint for its solid surface flooring. With all of the sustainable upgrades to the home, it has achieved an 86 Energuide energy rating system score.
Built Green is a voluntary program within the industry promoting environmental and sustainable initiatives. There are 300 registered Built Green BC builders in the province with 1,200 within the program.
Since Built Green has been around, about 3,000 homes have been enrolled with a combined reduction in 7,400 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, or an equivalent of taking 2,200 cars off the road.
For more information about Built Green visit www.builtgreencanada.ca.read more
Okanagan College is constructing the province’s first building using pine-beetle kill wood as a stand-in for Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber.
Vancouver-based CEI Architecture Planning Interiors designed the college’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, in Penticton.
The $28-million project, to be used by 800 students, is planned as a showcase of sustainable design.
“We were able to put a case forward to use pine-beetle kill wood as salvaged wood,” CEI partner Tim McLennan, who is also director of Kelowna operations, said in an interview. “We can meet the sustainability standard using B.C. wood, specifically pinebeetle kill, which has a huge socioeconomic benefit to the region.”
CEI negotiated with the International Living Building Institute (ILBI) — which urges architects and others in the construction industry to create buildings to the highest standards of sustainability — to use wood from pine-beetle kill forest in lieu of FSCcertified lumber.
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson’s green business mission to China is seeking to tap that country’s demand for sustainable buildings.
In a deal announced Tuesday, the mayor said a new research and development centre to promote Canada’s green building capabilities and technologies will be built in Tianjin, China.
“Vancouver is renowned for our green building expertise, and this new R&D centre in Tianjin will help our companies tap into China’s growing demand for more efficient, sustainable buildings,” Robertson said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase our talent, and, in the process, secure new investment and strengthen our local economy.”
The new centre will serve as a one-stop location for Canadian technology companies operating in China.read more