LETTER: What about the carbon footprint of the net-zero house?

Reader Joern Wingender wonders about the use of concrete and stryofoam

Re: “Nelson’s net-zero ready house is a glimpse into B.C.’s future

It is refreshing to see new home owners embrace concepts of enhanced thermal performance in residential projects. It is long overdue.

Extensive information on envelope performance and building science, readily available on the internet, now makes this an easy exercise.

Green Building has become a mainstream movement, originating from the natural building revival of the 1970s.

Unfortunately this pro-environmental, ecosystem-based approach to the selection of building materials has been highjacked by the industrial petroleum-based construction lobby.

In search for the top-notch performance sticker, considerations for the overall environmental footprint of the structure itself seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Why choose a petroleum-based product like Styrofoam and an energy-intensive building material like concrete to construct a building shell?

Not only do we need energy efficient buildings, but natural building design that is bioregion specific.

Look no further than the Nelson Chamber of Commerce-owned 119-year-old railway station in Nelson.

The R30 thermal mass-enhanced envelope acts as a passive cooling element in the summer and as a heat sink in the winter and is solely made of clay and wood fibre. A “truth window” in the lobby lets you peak into the wall to explore its different layers.

Some Styrofoam products are about to get banned because of their environmental impact. Why introduce them into our homes as building material? It will be only become part of our future plastic waste, carried far and wide by carpenter ants who love it.

Concrete is a more benign building material once cured. Its main ingredient, cement, is a top greenhouse gas producer. We should restrict its use to where it performs best: in foundations.

All of us need a healthy shelter and they can be built at a reasonable cost with resources found right here in our own backyard. Wouldn’t that make for a solid foundation that a resilient sustainable community could be built on?

It simply depends on what type of business model we prefer to choose.

Joern Wingender


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