1 comment on “Soap Bubble Insulated & Shaded Greenhouses”

Soap Bubble Insulated & Shaded Greenhouses

The LivelyUp soap bubble greenhouse uses a dynamic foam insulation and shading system for a cold-climate permaculture solar greenhouse in McDonalds Corners, Ontario, growing organic produce year-round without fossil fuels. The world’s first successful hoophouse prototype was constructed by Ross & Kathryn Elliott of Homesol Building Solutions on Sept. 11, 2001, and operated continuously for over 5 years, to as low as -39C and as high as 39C. We know of no other project like this in the world, most attempts to copy this have failed, we have unique practical experience. The 2,000 SF double-layer commercial greenhouse uses 30” – 60” of liquid bubbles, integrated with “Flying Concrete” end walls, passive mass cooling and rainwater collection for automatic drip irrigation of the compost / soil raised beds. A solar chimney provides no-power summer ventilation, with heat-recovery air exchange in winter to maintain ambient CO2. A PV solar array makes this growing environment self-sustaining, resilient, and net-zero energy.

If you would like a set of concept plans of the soap bubble insulated and shaded greenhouse, please send $500 + $65 HST to relliott@homesol.ca by e-transfer, and an electronic copy will be sent to you within 2 working days. Greenhouse consulting is also available at our regular hourly rates, upon signing a consulting contract and first purchasing of a set of plans so we’re “on the same page”! We built this greenhouse in 2001, and operated it continuously, nobody else has our experience combined with building science and horticulture backgrounds, so if you’re looking for a consultant to work with on your own bubble greenhouse project, we can help!

A Brief History:

Ross was involved in the construction of a “sola roof” bubble glazing research facility for Richard Nelson in 1985 in Montreal, based on previous work including an expired patent by Swedish inventor Zelon (US No. 3672184, June, 1972) for insulating shop windows with soap bubble foam. Professor John Groh at University of Arizona measured R3 per inch for soap bubble greenhouse insulation in 1968, while AHSRAE research by Shamim & McDonald in 1995 measured R1 per inch. In 1995, Bill Sturm built a 12,000 SF tomato greenhouse with a soap bubble insulated roof in Calgary, Alberta and measured an 84% energy savings at -20 F. Research in 2006 by Ruth and Andy Lera in the Yukon demonstrated the economic superiority of this technology for northern climates. Freezing and evaporation (liquid phase change) enhances thermal performance, overheating is eliminated, and natural lighting is unaffected, ensuring optimal year-round plant growth. Bubble solution is stored underground within the thermal mass of the greenhouse, so the foam also provides heating and cooling relative to outdoor temperatures. The continuously re-usable foam solution circulates in a closed loop and can also be actively heated or cooled as desired.

A presentation by Ross Elliott at the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in Victoria, BC on August 23, 2002 put this technology firmly into the public domain, this hoophouse design cannot be patented, and all materials and equipment needed to build your own are available off-the-shelf. DIY plans, foam concentrate & bubble greenhouse design consulting are available from Homesol.

Transforming Northern Greenhouses

0 comments on “Radon, silent killer?”

Radon, silent killer?

Radon detector showing high levelsIt was a quiet beeping, sort of like a watch alarm, and at first I couldn’t quite place where it was coming from. The sound led me to my radon detector, which was showing a truly alarming 1,456 Becquerels of radioactive gas in my basement!

In Canada, the government has set 200 Becquerels as the maximum “safe” level of radon, so my house was positively glowing with radiation, at more than seven times over the danger limit. But my radon monitor had never shown such high numbers, what had changed to make my house so radioactive? The answer was easy and I’ll get to that soon, but let’s talk about why I have a radon monitor in my basement in the first place.

0 comments on “Code Update: Fully Insulated Basements Are Coming Soon”

Code Update: Fully Insulated Basements Are Coming Soon

Best Practices for Insulating Slabs & Footings

By Stephen Magneron, CPHC, Advanced Housing Specialist

Insulation under the slab is one of the most overlooked strategies in most homes built today. Not only does it help create a warm, dry, comfortable basement, but it will also save on heating bills.

Slabs can be from 10% to 30% of the heat loss surface area of a home, with townhomes on the lower end to sprawling bungalows on the higher end. Admittedly, the heat loss is less than that of the roof or the above grade walls that experience higher temperature difference between the indoors and outdoors. However, the ground’s constant temperature is around 10oC in the Ottawa area. Imagine if the temperature outside was 10oC all year round, 24/7, and your house was uninsulated. You would be either very uncomfortable or paying 24/7 to keep the indoor temperature at a cozy 20oC. It truly makes little sense that we’ve been upgrading all our other thermal assemblies yet commonly leave such a large portion of our building envelope completely uninsulated!

0 comments on “Combo/Space water systems in Energy Star homes”

Combo/Space water systems in Energy Star homes

 

The new CSA P.9-11 Combo System Testing…what you need to know

What is it?

Third party testing of combo space/water heating systems accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (CSA). The performance metric resulting from the testing is known as the Thermal Performance Factor (TPF).

Which types of systems are tested?

The scope of CSA P.9-11 states that it applies to:

  • Forced-air or radiant packaged combo (heating and hot water combined) systems; and
  • Combo designs/configurations with heat inputs up to and including 87.9 kW (300,000 Btu/h) for boiler-based systems, and a maximum input up to and including 73.2 kW (250,000 Btu/h) for water-heater-based systems, that are intended for field assembly.

How does this affect ENERGY STAR Homes?

By September 30, 2014, all ENERGY STAR Homes using Combo heating systems must use products tested and listed as meeting CSA P.9-11

How do I know if my current system has been tested?

All qualified systems will be listed on NRCan’s website.