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Developing the Next Generation of Deep Energy Retrofits

According to the IPCC, we have just ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. To help address the climate crisis, Nova Scotia and Canada have committed to reaching a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050.

One of the quickest ways we can get to Net Zero is by increasing the energy efficiency of our existing homes and buildings.  About three out of five of Nova Scotia’s homes are 25 years old or older. (Source) Those homes consume on average twice as much heating energy every year as homes built in the last 25 years. (Source) That means higher energy costs, higher carbon emissions, and less comfortable homes.

New buildings play a small role, but to have a real impact, we need to reduce the energy burden of buildings we already have.

Why? Because sixty percent of all buildings you see today will still be in use by 2050. (Source)

Current methods for deep energy retrofits are not simple. They take months and are disruptive to building occupants. Every project is custom and expensive. There are not many successful deep energy retrofit examples in Canada for these reasons.

In response to these challenges, ReCover is bringing to Nova Scotia an innovative retrofit initiative based on the Dutch EnergieSprong methodology. Adapted to suit our province, this process will enable old buildings to be upgraded to net-zero ready standards in a matter of days. 

Our process also helps recover and store carbon emissions by using low-carbon, locally-sourced materials. Conventional retrofits use materials like foam and metal, which have a big carbon footprint. The ReCover Initiative uses cellulose, lumber, plywood, and other low-impact materials. 

Most of these materials are sourced right here in Nova Scotia, so we can rebuild the local economy while creating sustainable careers.

ReCover is not a proprietary initiative. We’re building a community around our work to share our research and lessons learned. Our goal is to enable Nova Scotia to scale with the speed necessary to address climate change and build a sustainable economy. 

It’s going to take teamwork to bend the arc of emissions. The ReCover Initiative is working with our partners and community to enable Nova Scotia to scale up with the speed necessary to tackle the challenges ahead. There are several similar initiatives inspired by EnergieSprong underway across Canada: the Sundance Housing Cooperative Retrofit project in Edmonton, the PEER Project in Ontario, and the Whole Building Retrofit Project (also in NS).

The ReCover Initiative is re-imagining what energy-efficient buildings look like in Nova Scotia and across Canada. Together we can ReCover thousands of homes to the net-zero ready standard and rebuild a sustainable economy.

Join Our Webinar

Join us on July 13, 2020 at 1 PM ADT and find out how the ReCover Initiative proposes to retrofit an apartment
building (circa 1980) to Net Zero Energy in a matter of days!

About the Authors

Lorrie Rand

Lorrie Rand

President and Co-Owner, Habit Studio

Lorrie is President and Co-owner of Habit Studio, a Halifax design firm that specializes in sustainable residential work. After spending nearly twenty years designing 20 to 40 renovations per year, her goal is to reduce the financial and technical limitations of completing custom renovation projects in the face of a looming climate crisis. As a Certified Passive House Designer and a recognized building science expert, Lorrie has a Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Architecture.

Nick Rudnicki

Nick Rudnicki

CEO of RSI Projects

Nick is the CEO of RSI Projects, a residential building and renovation company in operation since 2011. His experience on a number of new construction builds led to an awareness that the climate impacts of new builds is a significant contributor to the climate crisis. Leveraging his expertise as a Passive House trained builder, he is well situated to understand and navigate the building science complexities of deep energy retrofits.

Emma Norton

Emma Norton

Senior Lead, Stakeholder Relations at QUEST

Emma is the Senior Lead, Stakeholder Relations at QUEST. Emma facilitates two working groups in Nova Scotia: the Buildings Working Group and the Municipal Energy Learning Group. Emma has been working in Nova Scotia’s energy sector for seven years, specifically in the areas of energy efficiency and deep energy retrofits, through the lens of a just transition for workers and communities.

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