LEEP: 4 Steps to Better High Performance Housing

LEEP: 4 Steps to Better High Performance Housing

Shawna HendersonJanuary 09, 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:


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.


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. 


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.


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