Island Rose Solar Home 0

Island Rose

Island Rose

The Island Rose design is a great example of passive solar principles.  This story-and-a-half design with walkout basement was built just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The home incorporates renewable technologies and energy efficient building design and heating systems.

Passive Solar Design

The Island Rose, designed by Suncatcher Solar and built in partnership with Jaylin Homes, has south facing windows that are 10% of the overall floor area.  This allows the sun to shine in and provide solar heat gain during the fall, winter and spring.  Overhangs from the roof and the balcony shade the first floor and walkout basement windows to keep the house cool in the summer.

Stone Thermal Mass Wall

Stone Thermal Mass Wall

Stone facing on a wall in the living room provides thermal mass that absorbs the sun’s heat on sunny winter days and stores it for overnight.  Without this thermal mass the room would become too hot, even on a day when it is -30 degrees Celsius outside!

Construction of the Island Rose

Construction of the Island Rose

Energy Efficiency Features

Energy efficient building design is crucial for getting the best performance from this home design.   The home, shown in the accompanying photos, was built with an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) basement that provides an R40 insulation value, 2″ x 6″ walls with blown in insulation and 1″ rigid foam insulation applied to the exterior.   Fiber cement siding limited the thickness of the foam insulation that could be used to the 1″ specified by the siding manufacturer.  The ceiling was insulated to R-50 with blown in insulation.

The design also features a technique that has been tested in earlier energy efficient demonstration projects, such as the Saskatchewan Conservation House.  A  foil vapour barrier was installed on the interior walls and ceilings to reflect heat back into the house, reducing heat losses through radiation.  This is like wrapping your home in a survival blanket, like the ones that come in your vehicle survival kits.  It is inexpensive but amazingly effective.  This interesting technique needs a

Dance floor in the walkout basement

Dance floor in the walkout basement

minimum of 3/4″ air gap in front of the foil, so the home was strapped with 1″ x 2″ before applying the drywall and other interior finishes.

The energy efficient design has proven to be very effective.  During cool temperatures in late fall, the house typically loses only one degree Celsius overnight.

Heating System and Active Solar Components

Island Rose has an open design with cathedral ceilings

Island Rose has an open design with cathedral ceilings

The Island Rose has radiant in floor heating on all levels and in the garage – about 4500 square feet of in floor heating.  In floor heating is more efficient and more comfortable than a regular furnace and does not produce air currents to stir up dust.  Because gas was expensive to bring in to the site, the owners decided to use only electricity for all utilities.   A geothermal system was chosen for the main heat source with solar hot water collectors to provide domestic hot water and to assist the geothermal system.  The geothermal system also provides air conditioning but the passive solar design is so efficient in the summer that they rarely use it.

The electrical needs of the house are partially met with a 2.1 kW grid-tied solar power system.  When the solar system produces extra power in the

Island Rose dining room

Island Rose dining room

summer months it is fed back into SaskPower’s electrical grid and the owner receives a credit for the utility power that will be needed in the winter to operate the geothermal system.  It’s a wonderful way to use the free, clean energy from the sun and essentially store it from one season to another.

Other sustainable features,  such as graywater heat recovery and rainwater recovery, have also been incorporated in this home.

Island Rose Achieves Energy Star Standards

Loft area

Loft area

The Island Rose home was assessed and tested for Energy Star standards.  After analyzing the plans and doing a site visit that included a blower test to measure the air tightness, the home received an Energuide  rating of 91%, one of the highest ratings in Saskatchewan.  Homes that achieve a minimum rating of 80% qualify for rebates for some of the energy efficiency and active solar components.

Owners’ Comments

“We are loving the house. A dream come true! We are so impressed with how much  solar heating, hot water and electricity we can get even at the shortest day!”

– “Island Rose” homeowners

For more passive solar home designs see Examples of Passive Solar Home Designs.  Visit Suncatcher Solar Home Designs to view floor plans and to buy the Construction Drawings.  You can also buy a Study Set to have a more detailed look at the plans before deciding to purchase the full set of drawings.  Plans are priced at $995 for the Construction Drawings and $29.95 for the Study Set.

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