Urban Ecology, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Urban Ecology is a two-storey
semi detached home located in the centennial
neighborhood of Winnipeg. It’s an inner-city community undergoing revitalization work. Winnipeg Housing got involved in the EQuilibrium Initiative because we saw it as an opportunity to learn and experiment with some sustainable design
practices that we don’t typically get to do in
our standard practice. Through the EQuilibrium
initiative we learned that when you’re building
sustainably you want to focus on the envelope and
air tightness of the home. That’s where you get the
biggest bang for your buck. Part of our renewable
energy strategy was the use of solar panels and solar heating, so we have four flat plate
collectors on the roof and that provides us heat
for both space heating and domestic hot water. The difference between
the EQuilibrium house and my previous residence,
which was a one-bedroom apartment with 400 sq ft.;
my utility bills in the EQuilibrium house are less than that of a one-bedroom apartment. My bills are stunningly low. Anywhere from half to a third of
what I was originally paying. Aside from the technology
that we used in this house, we also wanted to focus on
things that were low-cost items such as improving indoor air quality, water conservation, and the
use of renewable materials. There’s also a lot of low
cost sustainable things that Winnipeg Housing has
taken from this initiative and that is the use of water conservation features such as low-flow faucet aerators, dual-flush toilets, we also
focus on indoor air quality, so using the concepts of 0VOC paints. We can take those concepts forward because they’re very low-cost. We wanted to try to create
a model of affordable housing that would remain
affordable through the future. No one can predict the
cost of energy, 10 years, 20 years from now, so we saw it as a viable solution for modest income
families and individuals.