The energy efficiency of this new combined heating, cooling and hot water system surpasses previous configurations.
Since the BC Step Code has brought the need for energy efficiency to the center of attention, dual fuel and other hybrid HVAC systems have become popular solutions. Some are operated off a manual switch from heat pump for cooling to gas for heating; some combine air and water heating. The Multi-Source Clean Energy System uses both ideas and increases efficiency even further. A whole array of innovations integrates into a seamless, self-regulated network.
When Don Pineau, President of the Kelowna-based HVAC contractor Quality AirCare, worked out the details for the mechanical system to be installed in the Wilden research home, he was driven by the high expectations of the Wilden Living Lab partners, including FortisBC, the Wilden Group and AuthenTech Homes. The “Next Generation Home” is planned as a model home, paving the way into a future of easy-to-achieve net-zero design. This large-scale research for better building practices is lead by the Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) at UBC Okanagan.
The Multi-Source Clean Energy System has five main components:
- An air source variable speed electric heat pump
- An on-demand gas hot water heater
- An intelligent air handler equipped with a hot water coil
- A 4-Zone system with combined supply and return air ducting
- An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)
Cooling the home in summer is covered by the air source heat pump. It uses the outside air, decompresses it and distributes it through the ducting system. Since the envelope of the Next Generation Home is already highly effective in keeping the inside temperature stable, little electricity is needed to run the heat pump.
During cooler periods, the air source heat pump automatically adjusts its speed to create sufficient warmth. If multiple zones in the ducting system call for heating and the heat pump can’t keep up, the hydronic heating system sets in. The intelligent air handler requests hot water from the water heater to generate heated air. In the exact amount and temperature needed in the different zones, the air is then moved through the ducting system.
The ducting system has been designed based on heat loss/heat gain calculations. Each of the four zones of the Next Generation Home has its own temperature control as well as its own supply and return air ducting. This allows the intelligent air handler to tailor the supply of heat to each zone exactly to its demand, which significantly adds to energy efficiency.
The on-demand water heater that heats water for immediate use but also for the heating system is run by 100% RNG (Renewable Natural Gas) which is a certified carbon-neutral energy source provided by FortisBC. To keep its gas demand to a minimum the Multi-Source Clean Energy System works with heat recovery in two locations. A sophisticated ERV energy recovery ventilator exchanges heat and cooling from the exhausted stale air to the incoming fresh air. Plus, a wastewater heat recovery system re-uses the heat that would otherwise literally go down the drain.
All steps in the heating and cooling process happen without the homeowner interfering. Once they set the desired temperature for each of the four zones, they can relax. The consistent comfort level in this home is kept consistent, while active and passive clean energy sources interact.
The Wilden Living Lab is open as a Showhome for the public until May 18, 2022. After that it’ll be sold to a family that agrees to have their energy needs monitored through sensors in multiple locations. For a minimum of three years the UBC research team will collect and analyze data. One of the questions answered will be: How much energy can be saved by the Multi-Source Clean Energy System and how fast does the investment pay back.
Awards for the Living Lab & Multi-Source Clean Energy System
The Next Generation Homes was entered into the CHBA 2023 Housing Awards of Excellence and we are a finalist in the category “Excellence in Creating an Interior Feature/Innovation in a Home” with the Multi-Source Clean Energy System.
Besides this category, this project has is a finalist in an additional four categories. Gold medals will be awarded at the Gala Event in February 2023.