Energy Efficiency Abroad

 

I recently had the opportunity to look at construction methods in Canada.  You might think, well it’s a cold climate over there so it will all be very different.  that is both true and false.  Canada is very vast and has a number of differing climates.  On the west side of the mountains (Vancouver), the climate is quite moderate, with sub-zero temperatures and snow infrequent.  Have a look at the climatic data below in terms of High and Low temperatures throughout the year:

MONTH  HIGH   LOW      RAIN
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January        7°          2°      15 days
February      8°         3°      13 days
March          10°        4°       14 days
April             13°         6°       12 days
May               17°        9°         9 days
June              20°      12°        7 days
July                22°      14°       4 days
August          22°     14°       4 days
September 19°     12°       6 days
October        14°      8°      12 days
November      9°      5°      16 days
December       7°     3°       16 days
The temps are similar to our climate zones 7 & 8 and on the low end there is also correlation with climate zones 5 & 6.  So what is there to be learned from there construction method’s and levels of insulation?
All residential construction without exception is light construction using timber framing with vapour permeable barriers and high-density insulation.  insulation levels are generally higher to what is seen in Australia.  The standards of which are likely borrowed from their colder climates.  Once the timber frames are up they are lined with OSB board for walls and roof.  This provides a good basis for the vapour permeable barrier and is a good way of sealing the building envelope.  Cladding is very similar to our Hardie’s products although they seem to have better guarantees against rotting.  Overall quality of construction is higher, leading to better thermal efficiencies.  Also light construction allows for higher levels of wall insulation.
As for windows, PVC with double glazing with argon gas in the gap is the minimum standard.   Units are of a high standard and even the sliding units seal very well.
If Australia went down the path of legislating higher spec insulation and glazing, pricing on these products would come down while improving thermal comfort while reducing heating and cooling costs.

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