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NSYCC Summer Crew Update – Week 6

TREEHouseIt was a busy week! We began our week with a site visit to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College’s TREEhouse. The NSAC obtained a small house near campus and decided to renovate it using green building practices. The project is still in progress with phase one being complete. Phase two will deal with waste management and rainwater and graywater collection systems will be added. Phase three will involve the addition of renewable energy technologies.

We met up with Dr. Kenny Corscadden, the Industry Research Chair of Farm Energy Conservation at NSAC. We recorded a video interview with him and asked questions about the building’s design intent and operation. After the interview, Dr. Corscadden took us on a tour of the NSAC’s engineering and graduate studies workshop where we learned about some of the neat projects students where working on. It was here that Dr. Corscadden showed us the grass pellet stove. Students are researching different grass materials (i.e. hay versus grass) and different sizes of pellets (i.e. pellet size versus log size). The logs did not require as much processing as the pellets because each pellet needs to be compressed individually. Students were also studying the mechanics of the grass pellet burner, all the while measuring the environmental impact of releasing carbon dioxide and particulates into the atmosphere from the exhaust. The TREEhouse plans to implement a grass pellet stove and other renewable energy systems, such as wind and solar photovoltaic, as energy sources in the future.

After the tour of the workshop, Dr. Corscadden took us on a tour of the TREEhouse. Walking up to the building, you would not think it is any different than an ordinary house. However, the building materials were chosen with the environment in mind. The wood siding is locally sourced and part of the roof is covered in EnviroShake singles made by recycling plastics and rubber. Five large windows were installed in the south side of the building to maximize passive solar gain. The inside of the house looks quite ordinary too, but those knowledgeable about the project will know that this is not the case. The house is divided into 3 different zones; each zone uses different insulations, efficient light fixtures and wall thicknesses. HOBO sensors monitor the different zones to see which materials perform the best. All homeowners should implement these “unseen” green features because they are simple choices that conserve energy and minimize the building’s environmental impact.

On the way back to the college, we stopped again in the workshop and Dr. Corscadden showed us the insulation used in the East zone of the TREEhouse. It was made out of 70% recycled pop bottles and is not irritating when it comes in contact with skin. It was an interesting product.

Back in the office this week, we developed a map of the locally manufactured products for the website. This is useful because products on our website come from all over the world provided they have green features. The map will allow users to select which types of products they are interested in, and see which ones are manufactured right here in the Atlantic Provinces. We took extra care to ensure that we used the manufacturing locations and not the sales office locations. Purchasing local products helps the environment by reducing transportation related emissions, and is also great for the local economy. We also set up a table at an event put on by FUSION Halifax and BALLE Nova Scotia on August 11th. The event was to promote the benefits of purchasing locally designed and produced goods.

We finished up the project profile report and video editing of the TREEhouse. The video is a hybrid of a video interview and the audio tour format we perfected last week. It is a nice balance of interview style about the design intent and video with visuals of the green features. The video will be up once Dr. Kenny Corscadden approves the final version. Follow us on twitter (@AGB_Team) and we will let you know when the video and report are up on the website!

Laura & Fin