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YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posted March 19 2011 in the CalgaryHerald, I found out about this being built this morning. It sounds like my dream-home except for one thing, it is right in the heart of the city (MardaLoop) a short walk from the downtown core. I have been learning about other net-zero homes around Alberta lately - it seems like they are becomming more common :2thumb:

I'll let you read the story at the Herald-site at: Eco-friendly duplex doubles the fun or read it below in case the link becomes broken.

CalgaryHerald said:
More than five years ago, Nicolle Pittman stood alongside the remains of a basement foundation with visions of creating a pair of ecofriendly townhouses.

Well, the Danish Modern style home designed for Coley Homes by David Ferguson has been constructed.

It took five years to do it, but it's completed. "After much perseverance, it's now done, entirely uncompromised and everything I had imagined it to be," says the 34-year-old Pittman.

Coley Homes consists of Pittman, her dad, Peter, mom Anne and boyfriend Scott Findlay.

On a corner lot in the Marda Loop area, at 2239 31st Ave. S.W., stands the three-level duplex Brama Project.

The side-by-side, threelevel duplex is as healthy, environmentally sustainable, and energy efficient as allget-out.

Containing features such as a geothermal, hydronically heated system, the duplex includes a townhome with about 1,800 square feet above grade, with the other townhome about 100 square feet larger. Each has two bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, along with an attached rear garage.

Brama is an Italian word that, loosely translated, means yearning for or longing to do.

The townhomes feature a solar electric system and state-of-the-art appliances.

There is no gas line running into the homes, so they are independent of fossil fuels and their fluctuating costs.

The townhomes' foundations consist of ICF block (insulated concrete forms) drystacked and filled with concrete.

Other features of the homes include structural insulated panels, reclaimed Douglas fir, cedar and structural steel.

There's steel decking for the floor web, which contains radiant heating tubes hidden by polished lightweight concrete floors.

There's even triple-pane windows, along with southfacing glass panel garage doors.

Besides structural elements, concrete has been used on the countertops and one of the bathtubs.


:bullit:pROJECT: Brama Project, a side-byside duplex that's environmentally friendly, energy efficient and sustainable. It includes reclaimed lumber, an ICF foundation and structural insulated panels on the roof. Other features include the use of concrete on both the interior and exterior, geothermal technology, and energy-saving appliances. The three-level homes have 1,800 to 1,900 square feet of space above grade, with two bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and a rear attached garage. There's also a media room, living room with wood-burning fireplace, opentread fir stairways and second-floor laundry.

:bullit:BUILDER: Coley Homes.

:bullit:LOCATION: The duplex is located at 2239 31 Ave. S.W.

:bullit:pRICE: One of the homes is listed for sale at $998,000.

:bullit:OPEN HOUSE: Visitors can tour this unique home Sunday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

:bullit:INFORMATION: Visit www. or e-mail Nicolle Pittman at [email protected]

There is an advanced combustion wood-burning fireplace in the living room and a green patio.

There is no off gassing from adhesives or paints used to build the project.

The townhomes, one of which is being used as a demonstration model - have a net zero energy design. It means they annually produce at least as much energy as they consume.

"We designed them to produce 375 kilowatt hours per month of solar electricity and to use about 325 kilowatt-hours," says Pittman, whose fulltime job is as an associate creative director at MacLaren McCann. "So for about eight months of the year, we will sell energy to Enmax at the same price as we buy it from them for."

The duplex project is also working its way through the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) process that could see the homes certified at the platinum level.

LEED is an international program that promotes sustainable and ecofriendly building designs and construction.

"We didn't do this project because we want to be home builders," says Pittman.

"We did it because we thought there had to be a better way of doing things. We wanted to be part of that change and to show people what's possible."

But five years to complete?

There was a dramatic learning curve, she says, adding it was "a story about family, determination ... cross-border appliance shopping, toilet seat theft, the power of the owner-builder, and dealing with lenders."

She has no doubt the project would have been completed about 18 months earlier if financing had been easier.

"For an owner-builder to work off a draw mortgage, especially for a groundbreaking home like this, is difficult," says Pittman.

A draw mortgage is where an owner-builder applies for a mortgage from a lender.

Once approved, the lender advances portions of the money to the purchaser based on the stages of completion of the project.

Upon receipt of funds, the purchaser can pay their bills for materials and labour.

The problem for Pittman arose because of the way the duplex went together.

It didn't follow the usual completion stages.

"The homes took on a life of their own," she says. "People would come by and watch the progress and neighbours would give us the thumbs-up."

Since last April, about 2,500 people have visited the home.

It will be open Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

The home is listed for sale at $998,000, with the buyer qualifying for a $10,000 government rebate for energy efficient homes.

Would Pittman do something like this again?

"Yes, but not for a few years," she says. "The adrenalin was roaring - when we thought about building something so permanent, it was a buzz - and there were a lot of life lessons learned through it all."

performing monkey
4,230 Posts
I understand you excitement, but everytime I see one of these fluff articles it just makes me think: "that's nice, for the millionaires"

I don't think I'm old enough to be this cynical... :cry:

Still waiting for the zombies.
1,596 Posts
I understand you excitement, but everytime I see one of these fluff articles it just makes me think: "that's nice, for the millionaires"
I have to agree. I'd love to do something like this but doing it "right" is simply beyond the budget of most people. Many of the systems will pay for themselves and more over time but you still have to come up with that initial lump sum and for everyone I know that would be all but impossible. Then again, they're asking 998 for it but didn't say what it actually cost to build. For the uniqueness there might be a pretty steep premium built into that price.
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