The stairwell in the Foothills home of Don and Ulrike Gibbs — their home is one of three on the 2016 Eco-friendly Home Tour May 7, hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women.

The stairwell in the Foothills home of Don and Ulrike Gibbs — their home is one of three on the 2016 Eco-friendly Home Tour May 7, hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women.

Tomorrow’s homes — efficient by design

2016 Eco-friendly Home Tour hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women offers a peek inside 'green' homes in the North Okanagan

Are you intrigued by tiny homes, off-the-grid “earthships” or passive houses? Do you wonder about the purported energy savings of various green technologies compared to the costs?  If so, you’re not alone.  It seems many local residents are keen to learn more about energy-efficient homes. To facilitate information- sharing on this topic the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) is sponsoring two events: a home tour and a presentation at Okanagan College.

The 2016 Eco-friendly Home Tour May 7 will include three fascinating homes: an elegant Coldstream home designed using passive house principles (owned by Kira Sutherland and David Allen), a rammed-earth home /earthship with solar energy (owned by Doug and Heather Clay), and a unique Foothills home designed using concrete as a thermal mass to achieve both energy efficiency and wide spans (owned by Don and Ulrike Gibbs). The tour will wrap up at the offices of Kal Tire with a presentation on their building’s “green” features as well as the corporation’s other sustainability activities.

During CFUW’s 2015 tour, participants visited seven homes and talked to the owners who had incorporated sustainable design principles and the latest technologies for energy efficiency and water conservation into the construction of their homes. Many attendees had questions about pay back periods for different technologies and what type of energy savings to expect. Others wanted to know which local tradesmen were knowledgeable in these systems. A common question was, “how could someone determine which design elements and technologies would be appropriate for their new site or for retrofitting their existing home.”

To help answer some of these questions, CFUW and OC are co-hosting a presentation May 6 called Tomorrow’s Homes – Efficient by Design.  The speakers include Rob Bernhardt, Brian Rippy and Dr. Shahria Alam.

Bernhardt, who many will remember as a lawyer in Vernon and chief of competition for the 2005 FIS World Cup Cross-Country Competition, is now president of the Canadian Passive House Institute West.  He will speak on the comfort, quality and affordability of high performance homes. Passive homes provide superior comfort and indoor air quality and require 90 per cent less heating / cooling energy than homes built according to current codes.

Rippy, a professor at OC in Penticton who lectures in the Sustainable Construction Management Technology Program (SCMT), will describe what makes the program unique in Canada, and how its graduates are taught to adopt a whole systems approach to the development of green buildings. Rippy maintains that design considerations should balance both modern and vernacular design strategies; the human needs for comfort and shelter; and on-site energy and water resources.  He believes careful analysis of these core green building principles delivered in an integrative process is the key to finding beneficial design synergies that balance financial, social, and environmental equity and deliver truly sustainable projects.

Alam, an associate professor in UBC’s engineering faculty in Kelowna, will describe the Wilden Living Lab Project. The project, aimed at gathering performance data on specific technologies, is a collaboration between engineering researchers at UBC, the Blenk Development Corporation, and students from Okanagan College’s trades programs.  The Living Lab involves the construction of two identically designed homes, one built to current building code standards and the other with additional energy equipment upgrades. UBC will monitor the energy use and publish the results online in real time.

During intermission, attendees can view the winning plans for the Tiny Home Design Challenge sponsored by the First Nations Friendship Centre Society, and talk to several resource people who will be available to answer questions about sustainable construction. These will include: architects Brian Quiring and Doug Warner, builder Darren Richmond, Eric Dickie of Delta Geothermal and Landon Aldridge of Terratek Energy.

Tickets for the Eco-friendly Home Tour are $25 and available at the Bean Scene (see

Tomorrow’s Homes – Efficient by Design takes place May 6 at 7 p.m. at the college. Tickets are available at the door for $10, students $5.  For details:

All proceeds from the tour and the presentation will go towards two  $1,500 scholarships which CFUW provides annually to two local students.


Vernon Morning Star