Whitehorse builders vie for energy efficient supremacy

Some Whitehorse house builders have a friendly rivalry to see who can build the most energy efficent home in the territory.

Two groups of builders want to claim title of "greenest" home in the Yukon.

This laneway house under construction in downtown Whitehorse will be the most energy efficient home in the Yukon if all goes to plan. (CBC)

A Whitehorse man whose hobby is building homes is aiming to build the most energy efficient house in the Yukon.

Forest Pearson is constructing the laneway home in the downtown area.

"We're really just trying to get the building as energy efficient as possible," Pearson says.

"A few years ago a friend of mine and I built a home that at the time was the most energy efficient home in Whitehorse and then a couple of other friends raised the bar a little bit and so now we're just trying to nibble away at the last little bits of crumbs of energy wastage in the homes," he says.

One of those friendly rivals is builder Roger Hanberg.

A lifelong carpenter, Hanberg says he became interested in energy efficient construction about a decade ago.

That culminated in a timber frame house in the Takhini North neighbourhood.

This timber frame house in Whitehorse built by several builders including Roger Hanberg holds the title of most energy efficient in the territory. (Simon Blakesley)

"I've been studying energy efficiency and learned to realize its value so I just wanted to prove what I was studying so that's what prompted me to build this super insulated home," Hanberg says.

That's also spurred Pearson on to see if he can make his new home even more energy efficient.

But he says the homes are already so well insulated, he's looking at other ways to increase the efficiency. 

"Now we're actually starting to think about, okay, how can me make it more efficient and that's putting renewable energy generation on, we hope with this house to put solar hot water on it and as well a small air source heat pump to reduce the energy consumption even further," Pearson says.

He says heating this new house will cost less than $300 per year. Heating water will be the biggest user of energy which is why he's considering solar hot water.

Hanberg says Yukoners can be proud that northerners are leading the way on energy efficiency.

"There are cities such as Vancouver which claim to be the greenest city in the country, yet in fact the city of Whitehorse is the greenest builder, has the greenest building bylaws in Canada," he says.

Hanberg says the national building code calls for an EnerGuide rating of 80 to qualify a home as energy efficient. He says a Whitehorse bylaw requires new homes to achieve a 82 EnerGuide rating.

Super green homes have to reach at least 85. Hanberg says his latest home and the target Pearson has to beat is 87. He says if he can find the time and the money, he'll also try to do better than that on his next project.

Green homes are better for cats. (CBC)

The builders say the feedback they get about their homes is how comfortable they are.

Pearson says people like the quiet they get from the thick walls and how much their cats like the deep window sills.


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