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NSYCC Update – Week 6

After a solid week of working on items for the website, on Friday we went on another site visit. We went to the Berwick & District Volunteer Fire Department and took a tour of the new fire hall, courtesy of Deputy Fire Chief, Steve McMahon. It will be an excellent addition to our series of case studies. The property, conservation land and a watershed, was once used for agricultural purposes as a beet farm. The fertilizers and pesticides needed for this purpose were ending up in the water supply. Because of this, the community was not hesitant to allow the fire hall to be built on conservation land.

The building is separated into three individually insulated areas: the fire hall, the intermediate area for administration purposes, and a community hall. The fire hall has thirty-four south-facing solar thermal panels separated into three banks, each bank with it’s own photovoltaic cell. There are no north-facing windows to minimize heat loss. All windows and doors are low e, argon-filled double-glazed windows, and do not open which helps maintain a controlled climate indoors and minimizes air leakage. Separate heat pumps are used in different areas of the building.

Motion sensors operate the heating and air conditioning systems in the community hall. Once a couple of minutes of continuous activity is recorded, the hall is heated to 20-25 °C from 15 °C, which is kept constant by the in-floor heating. Lighting in the community and administration areas are also run by motion sensors to make sure they aren’t used when they aren’t needed. Insulation in the building was doubled at a cost of $60 000, which is only 2.5% of the $2 500 000 building. The ceiling boasts an excellent R60 insulation, whereas the walls are R40 and the floors are R20. The average newly built house, for comparison, is approximately R24.

Steve McMahon personally invested a lot of his time into this project and it was clear to us that he went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that the fire hall was built efficiently, with the needs of the firefighters and community in mind, and making sure that no detail was too small to leave out.

Justin & Sara