North

This N.W.T.-built home could cut energy bills by almost half, says not-for-profit

Bruce Elliott is building and selling energy efficient homes that have thicker walls and insulation throughout the whole structure to keep in the heat during frigid N.W.T. winters.

Bruce Elliott is building his 1st energy efficient home, hopes to send some to High Arctic

Bruce Elliott outside the energy-efficient home his company is building. He aims to sell and ship these houses 'into the high Arctic.' (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

From the outside, it looks like just another house; but if you lived there, you could save a pretty penny on energy. 

The structure stands, still under construction, on the Fiberglass North property in Kam Lake, Yellowknife.

"These houses should be able to provide their own energy with solar for 10 months of the year," explained Bruce Elliott, the owner of Fiberglass North, as he shows CBC News inside the two-bedroom unit he and his team are working on.  

It's the first home he's ever built. 

Elliott is building and selling energy efficient homes he designed. They have thicker walls and insulation throughout the whole structure to keep in heat during frigid N.W.T. winters. The idea is to provide people with cleaner, more affordable housing.

Elliott said he designed these homes as a way to give back to the North. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Elliott's team builds half the structure in Yellowknife, before shipping it to another community where the owner, or local contractors, finish construction. The two-bedroom unit he showed CBC News will be heading to Hay River in December. 

One two-bedroom unit comes with a $300,000 price tag, which includes the cost of shipping the house out of the capital city. Elliott said he aims to ship these houses "all the way into the high Arctic."

The houses will cut the owner's energy costs by up to 46 per cent, according to an assessment by the not-for-profit group Arctic Energy Alliance. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Could slash energy costs

"It doesn't take much of a heating device to maintain the heat in these houses," said Ken Baigent, a senior energy management specialist with the not-for-profit Arctic Energy Alliance. He recently assessed the building's energy efficiency.

"[These houses] could be heated with almost any option — a small propane tank, electric heat would work."

During his assessment, Baigent found the current model could save homeowners up to 46 per cent of their energy costs, though he plans to conduct a final evaluation in January, once the structure in finished in Hay River. 

Bruce Elliott, left, watches two of his workers continue construction on the building. It's meant to be shipped to Hay River mid-December. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Baigent said he's seen more energy efficient homes being built in the past few years, especially in Yellowknife, where a bylaw laying out energy efficiency requirements for new buildings came into effect in 2010. That bylaw was removed in June 2018 and replaced by another energy efficiency bylaw in September of the following year. 

"The one Bruce is [building] now would be at the top of the scale," Baigent said, referring to energy efficiency. "It's the type of house that would be energy efficient once it's deployed and continue to be energy efficient for the occupants for many decades to come. 

The unfinished bathroom in the unit shown to CBC. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

"Hopefully we'll be seeing houses of this efficiency level being deployed through the Northwest Territories."

Elliott is already busy at work on a second home for a client. He said for him, this work is "payback."

"The North [has been] very good to me, and I'm 73," he said. "I wanted to give back to the North." 

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