What is a high-performance home?
A high-performance home offers significantly better energy-efficiency, durability, indoor air quality, and comfort over a conventional home. Builders use a range of building systems, techniques, materials and technologies to achieve these goals, but at the core of every high-performance home is a well-insulated, airtight building envelope, working in tandem with a fresh air delivery system.
Any home design can be built to high-performance standards – from traditional to modern. It’s the systems behind the scenes that have the biggest effect on the home’s performance: state-of-the-art wall systems, well-insulated roofs and slabs, triple-paned windows, heat recovery ventilation systems (HRVs), and heat exchangers. These are some of the components that will help to create a home that feels better, lasts longer, and operates more efficiently than a conventional home.
Even thoughtful design elements such as extended roof overhangs can affect a home’s performance, making the difference between the need for air conditioning in the summer, and a home that’s comfortably cool.
A high-performance home will always be more energy-efficient than a conventional home, but the degree of energy-efficiency can vary from mid-level BC Step Code requirements, right up to Net Zero, Net Zero Ready or Passive House standards. It might also incorporate advanced building concepts from other building programs such as:
The benefits of high-performance homes include:
Is a high-performance home the same as a “green” home?
A lot of work has been done in the last two decades to improve the way we build homes. Building scientists and manufacturers have developed better roof and wall assemblies, moisture-control strategies, insulating methods, building materials and technologies. They have looked at ways to curb building waste, reduce off-gassing, and source sustainable materials.
Various programs and certifications have sprung from the effort to increase the energy efficiency of housing, reduce its environmental footprint, and improve occupant health: Built Green®, Energy Star®, R-2000, sustainable, Net Zero and Passive housing.
High-performance building gathers all of these approaches under one umbrella. Builders can draw on materials, techniques, and technologies from any of them to achieve their goals, with the focus – first and foremost – on energy-efficiency. So, a high-performance home might be fully “green”, or it might only incorporate key features of green building where the goals of the two approaches overlap.
Is a high-performance home more expensive to build?
High-performance homes don’t have to cost significantly more to build – they need to be built well, using the latest building science and methods, and an experienced team – and the increase in upfront costs can be recovered over time through lower operating costs.
At Kemp Construction, we’ve been using green, energy-efficient, and Net Zero building techniques and technologies to build better homes for years. We have the expertise to provide you with cost-effective solutions, and can advise you where it’s worth spending your money on performance, and where it isn’t.
It takes a skilled team to build high-performance
Building a high-performance home isn’t just a matter of adding new technology to a home and expecting it to perform well. High-performance building is a “whole-house” systems approach. It considers how all of the components in your home will work together to achieve a high standard of energy-efficiency, occupant health, and comfort.
Kemp has been incorporating energy efficient building technologies and techniques into our projects – and building beyond existing building code – for more than a decade, investing time and training in things like airtight wall systems, green building techniques and materials, and passive heating and cooling design. In 2022, we became Delta BC’s first Qualified Net Zero builder – you can read more about that process here.
We’ve developed partnerships with designers, architects, passive housing experts, and energy consultants that have placed us among BC’s top sustainable building experts. Experience has shown us that it takes a skilled team, with a wealth of knowledge, to achieve high-performance in a cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing way.