These new Vancouver homes save energy and money

While Vancouver’s Main Street buzzes with locals trying to beat the summer heat in one of the city’s most walkable neighbourhoods, a block away at Hayden by inHaus, the buzz is from construction. Workers are busy drilling, sawing and hammering to finish stylish, energy-efficient townhomes that will keep their owners warm in the winter and cool on hot days like this one.

Most days 30 to 40 people work on this site, and the project has employed some 150 designers, architects, consultants, office workers, roofers, insulators, electricians, drafters and other tradespeople.

With high-rise condos sprouting down the street, Hayden isn’t the only new addition to the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, but it is among the most airtight. Airtightness means less energy is needed to heat and power these homes. Once the new owners settle in, that could translate into lower utility bills—offering savings of up to 50 per cent, based on the typical household’s energy needs in a comparable, standard-built property, according to inHaus’ Dave deBruyn.

In the design phase, the team employed a complex heat-loss calculation then worked backward to decide what features were needed to achieve their energy-saving target, like wall thickness, high-quality materials, a high-performance ventilation system, LED lighting and Energy Star appliances and windows. Currently, Hayden is certified to Built Green Canada’s gold standard, but inHaus is aiming to reach platinum. As work progresses, E3 sustainability consultants check if construction meets the mark. “We try to build conventionally but do a better job of it,” deBruyn says.

EnergyStar windows.High-performance ventilation system.

Despite modern style and energy-saving features, Hayden blends in with the community in look and price. “The cost is the same as the houses down the block,” deBruyn says. It also includes an open courtyard and breathtaking views from the shared rooftop patio.

Dave deBruyn of inHaus surveys the Hayden's rooftop view.
Dave deBruyn, Principal, inHaus Development Ltd.

Mixing new with old, the townhomes slope down toward an early 20th-century bungalow that remains on the property. During design, the City of Vancouver’s character-home zoning review updated regulations to preserve pre-1940 heritage homes. At first, council sought to stop demolition of all four homes on the property. Ultimately, to promote density in a city facing a housing crisis, council reached an agreement with inHaus to totally rebuild one home’s interior and replace the rest.

Residents should begin moving into Hayden by Christmas, about a year after construction began—just in time to enjoy the gift of a warm home and lower energy bills.

Insulation inside the Hayden.

A worker finishing a staircase in the Hayden courtyard.

Photos: Trevor Melanson