Applied Research and Innovation Services

Net-zero energy retirement: Part one

Image Green Building Technologies


“Pelican Perch” is not a landing area for white big-beaked birds. It’s the name Lance Olson and Wendy Wright fondly call their dream retirement home, which our team is involved in making a reality.

Located at Buffalo Lake, Alberta, the proposed home features a post-and-beam structure, straw-bale insulation and rammed-earth mass walls (a technique for building walls and foundations using raw earthen materials which are compacted either manually or mechanically in formworks – or moulds).

The home is perched on top of a hill which overlooks a lake and open farmland. South exposure makes solar-thermal and photovoltaic applications ideal. Once completed, it will be a certified net-zero energy residence.

“We are hoping to get students involved in the next few build days to work on the straw-bale and rammed-earth components,” explained Rebecca Davidson, Green Building Technologies project lead and researcher. “The clients want to recycle and reuse materials such as old rig mats for below-slab insulation, or recycled concrete and porcelain in a rubble foundation. They also have their own inventory of items they have been collecting for the build.”

The homeowners also want to live small, which coincides with the current “tiny house” movement – where homeowners choose to downsize. A tiny house is typically 500 to 1,000 square feet in comparison to a standard home which is usually 1,000 to 2,500 square feet. Pelican Perch will be roughly 850 square feet.

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C:UsersrdavidsoDocuments15.08.17 Olson House.pdf

A rendering of “Pelican Perch,” the net-zero energy retirement home which our team is involved in making a reality for Lance Olson and Wendy Wright.

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