LEEP Local Energy Efficiency Partnerships logo, a program offered to builders by Natural Resources Canada
January 9, 2020

 We're moving towards more energy efficient buildings - and so is the building code! That means our high performance houses must be code compliant and cost-effective. 

If only there were a tool that would successfully combine estimating and energy modelling. One that could chunk through thousands of combinations of materials, assemblies and equipment and spit out the most cost-effective way of hitting that Tiered Energy Code...

Let me tell you something: We have that tool, and it comes as part of a whole package that’s focussed on builders driving innovation.

We have a great opportunity to take a very successful process that Natural Resources Canada has pioneered in southern Ontario and BC over the last few years and make it our own:

Local Energy Efficiency Partnerships (LEEP)

NRCan’s LEEP is designed to reduce builder time and risk in finding and trying innovations for building higher performance homes better, faster and more affordably. The program is delivered on a regional basis in markets across Canada. Now it’s time for Atlantic Canada, thanks in no small part to the original efforts of Victoria Belbin, CEO of CHBA-NL

So how does the process work?

Builder groups use the LEEP process to work together to consider their opportunities and find innovations they believe are most feasible for the homes they build in their markets. There are 4 steps to the LEEP process:

  1. Builder planning workshops

  2. Technical Forums

  3. Field Trials

  4. Technology Publications resulting from builder experiences

Good news for our region: this is our LEEP year (go check your calendar, I just made a pun and I’m not sorry). The process is starting out with a series of half-day workshops highlight the benefits of a very cool tool for evaluating design decisions on new homes called CBAT (Cost Benefit Analysis Tool).

CBAT takes advantage of cloud computing to render upwards of 12,000 iterations of an energy model for a house. You can modify the inputs to reflect your assemblies and costs, and CBAT will report back with the ten lowest-cost performance packages.

LEEP: Ready for Atlantic Canada

I worked with LEEP in December 2018 to deliver 4 workshops in Atlantic Canada, and also beta tested CBAT in early 2019. This is very exciting for building science wonks, so I did it twice, once in NS and once in BC. Good to be bi-coastal. Also, the numbers work out great for Nova Scotia builders. Not only do y’all have the chops to build high-performance houses, we have relatively high energy prices and a relatively moderate climate (Zone 5-6).

The best part of CBAT? No more guesswork at which combinations of materials, assemblies and equipment to choose. There are dozens already stuffed into the tool, and you can modify anything to better reflect what you actually build with now. Rearrange packages, eliminate options you’ll never use, shift energy targets. It’s a nice little tool. There were some surprises in the combinations. You get to see what meets energy targets like BC’s Step Energy Code or Net Zero Energy, and you get to see which of those are the lowest cost options.

OK, there were two best parts. The other best part: endless energy modelling runs are a thing of the past! For one CMHC project, I worked with 6 archetypes in 7 cities, and did somewhere near 3,600 runs for a set of only 5 upgrade options. 

LEEP Pathway Costing Workshops

Efficiency Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines, in cooperation with Kent Building Supplies, will hold workshops in:

Halifax, Monday January 20

Truro, Tuesday January 21

Port Hawkesbury, Wednesday January 22

 Each workshop runs 8am to 12:30. Bring your laptop.

These are free events

To register, email Natasha Brooks at nbrooks@efficiencyns.ca

For further details, agenda, and location information, download the flyer.

I will be at the Halifax session, hope to see you there!



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What our customers are saying

  • If you are planning a house build or renovation, understanding Building Science is important to avoid repetitive heating costs and possible water damage later. Shawna and her team know their stuff.

    K.W., General Manager, Halifax, NS
  • Studies over the last 20 years have shown a worrying energy performance gap – where buildings are consistently found to use more heating energy than designers had predicted and Energy Performance Certificates indicate.

    Oliver Drerup, Former Head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation - International
  • I am pleased to hear that you will be undertaking a new initiative to further trades training in residential energy efficiency. CMHC supports the building of industry awareness and capacity to deliver more sustainable technologies and practices in the housing sector.

    Duncan Hill, P. Eng., Acting Director, Sustainable Housing and Communities Policy and Research Policy, Research and Planning, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  • Over the last 20+ years I have been speaking to and training thousands of new home builders and renovators across North America.

    Gord Cooke, Air Solutions
  • All I can say is … wow!  You have nailed it! I just watched the 5 minute overview of what all your training videos will attempt to accomplish, and am very impressed.  I am so proud that I know you both, this is incredibly good.

    Gregory A. Pedrick, C.E.M., Project Manager, New York State Energy Efficiency Agency
  • This training is easy use and in a perfect format.

    Dan Drummond, Training Director, Canada Wood China
  • It is very well centred on the learner's experience. Visually-based rather than text-based delivery make the modules straightforward and non-intimidating. I like the way the expected learning outcomes are clearly presented and the information is clearly applicable to practical work.

    Michelle Harding, Professional Builders Institute of BC
  • This is primo education that goes way beyond training.

    Chris Rosemont, BASF