A reality-based cost-benefit analysis of high performance residences in Victoria, BC




Wilson, Eric

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This research initiative attempts to empirically determine, with reality-based evidence from un-biased sources, the cost disadvantage, energy advantage, and expected pay-back period associated with building an above-code residence in Victoria, BC. In addition, this initiative created a much-needed benchmark for contractors to gain a firm understanding of the construction details required to achieve the various levels of the “Step-Code” in the newest edition of the BCBC. It was important to gain this information specific to Victoria B.C. to make an appropriate estimation of the actual “cost challenge” for building above code in the local housing market. This was accomplished through: a simulated tendering process with local contractors, an energy analysis of a case-study residence with the same floor plan, and an in-depth study into the variables governing time-to-amortization. The contractors provided quotes for an “above code” residence (ACR), and a minimum-code residence (MCR) with the same floor plan. The results were then compared to the as-built construction costs of the residence. When compared to the MCR, it was found that the ACR has a cost-disadvantage of approximately 22.5% ($74,400), an energy advantage of 22.5 kWh/m2/yr , and a payback period of over 79 years when a fuel inflation rate of 2% is considered. However, many of the components in the ACR assemblies were either for aesthetic appeal (metal-roofing), or comfort (floor-cavity insulation), and therefore it was possible to reduce the cost-disadvantage to just 2.1% ($7,759), while maintaining an energy advantage of 15kWh/m2/yr and step-level 3 designation. This was dubbed the hybrid-residence (HR) as it employed a combination of above-code and minimum-code construction assemblies. The HR has a pay-back period of approximately 16 years when the same inflation rate is expected in the price of fuel.



Civil Engineering, high-performance homes, residential, Residential Construction, Energy Efficiency, energy simulation