Embracing the new R-2000 Standard
Arthur Lo: Insightful Healthy Homes Inc.
By Judy Penz Sheluk
It’s not easy to be selected as one of B.C.’s “Top 20 Most Influential in Residential Construction” by CHBA-BC, but Arthur Lo of Insightful Healthy Homes Inc. has just been awarded the honour.
Lo’s Canadian success story begins in 1994, when he immigrated to Canada, bringing with him the expertise gained as a civil engineer for Hong Kong’s New Airport Project and other projects.
The airport dust had hardly settled when, in 1995, Lo founded WISA Healthy Homes, a design-build company in Vancouver. As the company’s president from 1995 to 2004, he was responsible for all the technical, contractual and construction roles in the delivery of WISA’s main product: R-2000 homes.
Super E Program in China
Recognizing an opportunity in China’s booming housing market, in 2004, Lo left WISA and founded Insightful Healthy Homes Inc. (Insightful), where he began his work as the technical consultant for Canada’s Super E Program in China.
“Super E is the export version of Canada’s renowned R-2000,” said Lo. “We have to work with both Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to promote and to develop technical standard of the Program to China. I’m proud to be associated with such a worthwhile initiative to export our advance building technologies overseas. But at the same time, we have continued to work in technologies development and home consultancy in Canada, specifically the Greater Vancouver Area.”
In 2010, Insightful was awarded the support of Canadian government under the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate to design and supervise a Net-Zero Energy Ready housing project in Shanghai.
Lo hasn’t stopped there. In 2008, Insightful was one of 12 winners of CMHC’s EQuilibrim Sustainable Housing Demonstration Initiative. The project, Harmony House in Burnaby, B.C., was custom built for the homeowner by Insightful and designed by Habitat Design + Consulting Ltd.
“I was so happy to participate in this state-of–the-art project. Apart from gaining valuable knowledge and experience in Net-Zero construction, we also collected a lot of firsthand data of the cost and performance of different building elements,” said Lo. “Most importantly, based on our data, we developed a protocol to relate incremental cost with extra energy saved. With this tool, we can precisely design and build dream homes for our clients, regardless of different budgets and/or energy targets.”
Vancouver Net-Zero Energy Ready Home
Always innovative and up for a challenge, Lo embraced the idea of being the first builder on Canada’s West Coast to have a home certified under the new R-2000 Standard, launched in February 2012. The program, jointly administered by the CMHC and NRCan, certifies homes performing at least 50 per cent better than code and using at least 50 per cent less energy than the 2005 R-2000 Standard.
The single-family home is a Net-Zero Energy Ready home in Vancouver’s South Cambie neighbourhood. With an EnerGuide rating of 88, savings are estimated to be 75 per cent of heating and hot water energy in comparison with a standard house built to the latest B.C. building bylaw. With the installation of PV panels, the home is also ready for full Net-Zero implementation. Recently completed, an open house event was held on October 30, 2012.
“Renewable energy equipment is still too expensive at this moment,” said Lo. “Hence this home is built with the same standard as the Net-Zero energy home, but without installing the renewable energy equipment at this time. However, we have provided all facilities for future installation of renewable energy equipment. Once the price of renewable energy equipment becomes affordable, the homeowner can readily install it without any modification to the house. This is a feasible approach to achieve Net-Zero with better strategic planning and lower overall cost.”
Insightful is currently building another R-2000 home in Vancouver; other projects are proceeding under different pre-construction stages. “Our company’s motto is ‘building healthy homes for people and the Earth,’” said Lo. “Insightful will continue to work for sustainable housing, with the aim of providing homes that meet the needs and budgets of our clients.”