Well… if you have read our last update, we introduced our new project…the creation of a new small NET ZERO everything dwelling in our lower garden.  We have set our goals high with this project are aiming for full LIVING BUILDING certification.  Along with this we are attempting to implement new land use policy called the NZAD (Net Zero Additional Dwelling), which would legally allow us to build a secondary dwelling.

Two council meetings have passed since we submitted our proposal on Jan 3rd to the District of Highlands for presentation to Mayor and Council.  The NZAD (Net Zero Additional Dwelling) policy has yet to be sent to mayor and council by municipal staff.  20120103 NZAD letter.   It is a policy that has been pre-drafted by us and has been discussed at great length within two council appointed sustainability advisory groups.  We very much like the Highland’s planner…Back in 2005, she was instrumental in designing and counseling us when we created our protective covenants on the Eco-Sense land which allowed us to build our house on previously impacted land.   But these days she is extremely busy with the sudden influx of rezoning and development issues on her plate.

The municipal planner has been so busy addressing rezoning applications for NZFA developments, that our application for the NZAD (Net Zero Additional Dwelling) has been placed on the backburner so she can get her head above water.   We do understand, but we had hoped that our application would have been seen as an opportunity to learn from, wherein the present applications for NZFA could be viewed with a new lens of sustainability where the new developments could include at least something greener like net zero water, zero waste, zero toxic materials, net zero energy, or zero land damage.  Oh… we forgot to define what the NZFA applications are – Net Zero Fuck All.  Yes we are on the back burner to big money and conventional status quo development sprawl.  We had really hoped that our project would provide discussion points for council and District of Highlands staff in their assessment of all the developments currently on the table.  So…what to do…well we are building anyways.  The only municipal barrier is that we cannot rent out the dwelling until we have approval to do so.  We are following all the rules.

Ann with her winter veggies...good for PMS and BMS

It has begun.  The Living Building Challenge is providing us ample opportunity to have sleepless nights afflicted with BMS (Busy Mind Syndrome).  Ann is also afflicted with PMS… which results in ‘interesting’ times for all of us when BMS and PMS simultaneously present themselves.   This update dives into the early thoughts and research as we begin the house design, systems design, infrastructure design and more.  In all honesty not until starting this update did it strike me as to what we have actually accomplished in two weeks.

Our disillusionment and anger over the proposed pipeline and tankers on the BC coast has led us to design a building that doesn’t require any of that shit to operate, thus to prove the point that we can function with very little fossil fuels.  Even more is to accomplish these goals building an affordable home for someone with little embodied energy.  We plan on utilizing recycled and natural materials while simplifying systems. Oh, we have LEARNED so much from building the Eco-Sense home and our research sponsored by the Real Estate Foundation and VanCity.  This new small dwelling will be fully passive solar and Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Water and Zero Waste and will function as part of the ecosystem as it evolved in place.

House design:  The basic design is done.  The dwelling is a little bit larger than we anticipated, as it has to accommodate all the systems.  We are being smart with placement (thanks to a tip from the Highlands building official), and have decided against a separate mechanical room.  The systems, instead, will be incorporated throughout the body of the house.  Can you imagine what the human body would like if all of our systems were in a separate compartment away from the body?  It would look like a really big poorly fitting heavy backpack…with all the organs crammed into it and a lot of extra wires and pipes.

Infrastructure design (non- nerdy types may wish to skip ahead)

Solar thermal and heating design:  So very cool!  Spent three days thinking, and researching components.  This will be a tour all unto itself.  Simplicity of design rules for removing costs, nasty products, efficiency, maintainability, and cost… Ooops did I say that twice.  Sustainable design does NOT have to be expensive… our research on the Eco-Sense home showed us that our solar thermal system amortized over a 10 year lifespan comes in at a cost of $0.09 kWhr… better than BC Hydro; if you don’t believe us just wait a year and see, or look at your second tier cost on your hydro bill now.

A warm house is important for Boo...He hates toques.

Heat Load:  House heat load calculations bring it in at 3,700 BTUH on the coldest day… can you say negligible?  Yeah for passive solar design and a highly insulated building envelope.  Details:  R70 roof, R66 walls, and a solar thermal battery in the form of a 22’ long, 3 foot deep and 2 foot wide water tank under the home, with recycled insulation over top, and an insulated cape outside the house envelope.

So, in summary, here is where we are at today: 

Gord in the digger

Jan 10-12th  Rented Bobcat.  Gord reorganized lower garden and re-routed the driveway on the outer edge away from garden area and future deer fencing.  Gord will never go back to the shovel and now suffers from TICS…Testosterone Induced Child Syndrome.  He’s like a kid in the sandbox with his digger toy.

Trench going into pond

Jan 13-15th  – Cleared small trees out of old man made pond that doesn’t hold water.  Begin preparations for resurrecting the pond that will hold about 250,000 Gal of water.  This pond will service all irrigation for upper and lower gardens and provide potable  water to the lower dwelling (after filtration and UV sterilization).

Jan 15-26th – correspondence with ROWP (Registered Onsite Wastewater Professional) for design of Flush Toilet Ready policy AND stand-alone grey water system. 

Emily with Ann's red hair - Taking a break from design work

Jan 10-20th – Designed 500 ftDwelling.  Gord learned how to use Google Sketch up.  Great tips from John Gower (of Gower Design), and now on to Cindy McCaugherty from Raincoast Homes.  Both excellent friends who do amazing design work.  Cindy will put our plans into AutoCad, work her cob home design and detailing magic and send to the engineers who have already been prepped (Kris Dick and Tim Krahn)

Trying to keep sense of humour in the evenings...Boo with Red hair

Jan 16, 2012 – Electrical permit.  Must pay the permit fee on entire solar installation cost.  Must install a new service connection in the lower garden.  Must install a minimum 100Amp service even though we don’t need it.  Must pay for a new transformer on the Hydro pole.  Must use toxic wood treatment on bottom of new service pole.  Living Building Challenge does not allow toxic materials red list items…so plan B.  NO new pole:  Build small shed for electrical to attach to and then bury cable all the way to the dwelling (100 ft).

Jan 23rd – Gord spent more time in the bobcat prepping the dwelling site.  We will have enough earth on site from the excavation to build the dwelling.  More TICS behaviour.

Jan 23th -25th – design and research heating system, and solar thermal etc.

Jan 24th – well water test at our house failed!  Took water sample in for testing on Jan 9th.  Finding out what is going on?!?!?!?!?!  VERY Upsetting.  Could it be due to the damage from next door (see last update)????  Could it be due to all the goat manure we put on the garden?  High in nitrates, coliforms, lead, dissolved solids, and too hard.

If we want veggies...we have to plant them

Jan 25th – plant lettuce and early greens.  Pick up all the bits and pieces for the underground infrastructure.

Two diggers - Two men - prepping dwelling site and moving fill

Jan 26th – make goat cheese.  Hire local guy (with TICS) and excavator to finish site prep.  Dig out dwelling site, dig trenches, and dig trench to connect pond to existing buried water pipes.  Our land is currently NOT beautiful…but thankfully we have not dug up any undisturbed land.

Whew…that’s it I think.

Gord and Ann


Into Eternity.  A  thought provoking documentary about nuclear waste…it’s not what you think.  Nuclear waste has to be looked after for more than 100,000 years.  Next week is hard to predict…let alone 100,000 years from now.  Interesting exploration of ideas.  What do you think?  It comes in 5 parts as it keeps getting removed from the internet. Here’s part 1

Spoil.  Half hour beautiful documentary by the best nature photographers on the planet.  See the Great Bear rain forest, learn about the tar sands, and the pipeline.  Inspirational AND disturbing.

One response to “NZAD vs NZFA

  1. Onwards! Love the update and the possibilities.

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