MIT energy monitors, best sustainability practices accompany precast Habitat home

Sources: Lafarge North America, Chicago; CP staff

Alberta’s weather extremes will test the efficiency and thermal mass properties of the Net Zero Precast Concrete Home, a duplex to which Lafarge and Habitat for Humanity Edmonton turned over the keys in a mid-October ceremony. The two families will build equity in their new homes through an interest-free Habitat mortgage, capped at 25 percent of income.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology will monitor energy performance for two years to determine if the net zero design delivers on an operational basis. Tracking of heating and cooling requirements will mirror a comparison of insulating concrete form and wood frame home energy consumption the MIT-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub included in the 2009-10 phase of “Life Cycle Assessment of Buildings,” a charter research project.

Lafarge and Habitat for Humanity Edmonton will incorporate findings from homes’ production, construction and operation stages in other sustainable residential solutions. “[We are] committed to building better cities and this project is an ideal example. Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity has allowed us to do innovative research on the energy efficiency that concrete brings to buildings while helping two deserving families attain home ownership,” says Lafarge Vice President–Edmonton Larry Diduck.

The producer fabricated 80 elements, including prestressed hollow core plank and insulated sandwich panels, at its Edmonton precast operation. Production coincided with an open house on Canada’s 2011 National Precast Day. Future owners and volunteers—the first of more than 150 ultimately lending a hand—began duplex construction in July 2012, logging 3,000-plus hours throughout the schedule. Owners of Habitat properties typically invest at least 500 hours to qualify for the homes and favorable financing terms.