LEED and Novoclimat certifications: related costs and evaluations
You’ve been dreaming about an environmentally friendly house, but don’t know which certification to get and what criteria they are based on? Well, look no further: this is the blog for you.
To start with, consider the following image retrieved from Hydro-Quebec’s website, qualifying the different ways electricity is used by the average household that uses electric heating:
 The sources of electricity consumption can vary depending on the characteristics of a home. For a more accurate representation of your home, click here: http://www.hydroquebec.com/residential/customer-space/electricity-use/tools/electricity-use.html
As you can see, the main source of energy is heating. Heat is often lost because of bad insulation and through air leakage from a crack in the house envelope (often between the walls and windows or doors that are not airtight in a conventional construction. The Novoclimat program offers a solution to this problem and gives between $2000-$4000 when the certification is issued. This normative certification aims primarily for a reduction of energy consumption based on clear criteria which the house must comply with.
The Criteria :
- Superior air tightness verified with a test using a leak detector (described in further details below)
- ENERGY STAR certified doors and windows (triple glazed and Low-E film)
- An efficient calibrated ventilation system (ensures an even distribution of air and its quality to the house occupants, controls humidity levels and prevents odors, among others)
- Superior insulation by reducing thermal bridging (value of R-29.5 for walls as opposed to R-24.5 in a conventional home, R-62 for the roof as opposed to R-41 and R-16 for a heated slab as opposed to R-10).
The air tightness test is conducted by a Novoclimat inspector on the construction site. A fan is installed instead of the door and creates a negative pression, sucking the outside air in. To seal the holes (if present), we walk around with a smoke stick to see where the air is coming in from. Today, the Novoclimat regulatory requirements are of 1,5 CPH (change per hour). As a comparative, the Building Code generates 3 CPH, where 1 CPH would be the equivalent of a 12mm opening in a patio door in an average home (ecohabitation.com). At UrbanÉco, our construction teams are now more than familiar with the requirements of Novoclimat and work with care and efficiency. They are experts at exceeding the test under 1,5 CPH on the first try, however we do take care of any leaks if they are present before sealing the house envelope completely. Once this step is completed, it’s time to install the gypsum!
LEED (Leadership Energy and Environmental Design)
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
Although LEED originated in the United States, there is also a version adapted to Canada. This certification offers more flexibility as it uses a system based on points to be issued, rather than needing to meet the entirety of the criteria list like Novoclimat. The four LEED certification level designations are Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified. Regardless of the certification level achieved, all projects must meet mandated prerequisites and then choose from 110 available credit points to reach the desired certification level (hlmssustainability.com). This flexibility allows us to adapt our architectural designs to the needs and wants of our clients as well as the environment in which the house will be built.
The certification is issued by an employee from Ecohabitation, indicating that the building, the house or the community was designed and built using strategies that aim for a high performance in key areas of the environment and human health (sustainable site development, water consumption, energy performance, choices of materials and air.
1. Environmental elements
- Passive solar design
- Design adapted to important views and land
- Clean energy production
- Low consumption devices and appliances
- Insulation and air tightness (one without the other are not optimal)
- Healthful and durable materials locally sourced
- Recycling and reuse of materials during construction
2. Human Health elements
- High performance air exchanging system
- Low V.O.C. (volatile organic composites that are often toxic or carcinogenic) interiors finishes
- Public/durable transport access (bicycle, electric car)
Even though almost all UrbanÉco project aim for a Novoclimat certification, our approach to design and build environmentally friendly houses is based on LEED Platinum, as it encompasses a wide variety of criteria that align with our company values.
It costs $5500 to be certified, including multiple on-site evaluations by an inspector and administrative fees. However, some of the criteria listed above are not necessarily costly; for example, designing a house according to solar energy and natural light only requires to be well thought out! Choosing durable and quality materials might represent a bigger investment at first, but the maintenance costs are reduced in addition to providing your home with lovely spaces and a higher resale value.
To sum up, Novoclimat mainly asses the air quality of a home, as well as its insulation and air tightness for energy performance. On the other hand, LEED supports a vision that includes more criteria relating to the environment and the health of the house occupants, which UrbanÉco believes to be the house of our future generations. As a general contractor, our role is to guide and advise our clients to make the best choices possible according to their budget and needs. As an innovative company in our field, it is essential to offer a variety of options for materials and certifications in order to make the environmentally friendly and healthy home accessible to a wider number of people.
You have comments, questions, or a project? Reach out to us today!