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Demonstration to showcase energy efficiency test for city's homes

Energy modeling and blower-door tests to become mandatory for all new construction starting in September 

A demonstration of how a "blower-door test" is used to improve a home's energy efficiency will be held this Friday.

The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. and feature a home being built by Toor Enterprises at 7428 Rowe Street, in the University Heights neighbourhood.

Those interested in attending are asked to register at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/367288077527.

Certified energy advisor Rod Croome will show how the test is used to identify areas in a home that are leaking air.

Assessing air leakage before the building is finished and still under construction allows contractors to repair leaks before the exterior and interior finishes are applied.

“The test is actually pretty simple but very effective,” said Croome, who founded Hometech Energy Solutions in Prince George 15 years ago.

“Once the doors and windows are installed, we replace one exterior door with a fabric sheet and a large fan that sucks the air out of the building and depressurizes the interior. Then we use equipment to identify exactly where air is seeping back into the house, simulating cold air in winter or hot air in summer.”

Controlling the air moving between a home’s interior and exterior is considered one of the most important, cost-effective ways to build homes that are more comfortable and energy-efficient; warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

How the walls, roof, and foundation are constructed all affect a building’s “air tightness” and the importance of measuring air tightness.

The results of the blower-door test indicate the air-tightness of the home and are measured in “air changes per hour.” The lower the number, the more air-tight the building envelope.

“There’s a belief that a house shouldn’t be too air-tight and that it needs to breathe,” said Croome. “We breathe too, but we don’t breathe everywhere on our body. Our breathing is controlled from our nose and mouth. It’s similar for houses; we can control how and where a house breathes to make it more comfortable, less drafty, more durable, and potentially cheaper to operate.”

Energy modelling and blower-door tests will be required for all new construction in Prince George starting in September when the Energy Step Code takes effect locally. The Province is also updating the BC Building Code to match the Energy Step Code. Together, these updates will ensure that new buildings are more energy-efficient.

“Changes are coming and we want to make sure local builders are not just ready, but also able to be at the forefront,” said Terri McConnachie executive officer for the Canadian Home Builders Association in Northern BC. “Demonstrations like the one we’re providing on Friday give our builders first-hand exposure to techniques like blower-door tests that they can easily incorporate into their processes.”

The event is part of Building a Legacy-North, a partnership between CHBA Northern BC and the Community Energy Association to provide resources and training to northern construction professionals, local governments, Realtors, and consumers. Since it began in early 2021, Building a Legacy - North has provided webinars and training that have attracted more than 1300 registrants.