Deep Retrofit builds on Kusiek’s commitment to community

Brendan and Julie Kusiek bought their home in 2008. 14 years and four kids later, the couple is adding another milestone to their long-standing commitment to community and sustainable living with a panelized deep retrofit.
The Kusiek family

Julie sees the retrofit as a logical extension of her passion for making her home, neighbourhood, and city more livable as a mother, advocate, public school trustee and community engagement coordinator for a local environmental non-profit.

Thanks to the efforts of Julie and an army of community volunteers to get bike lanes, better sidewalks, and traffic calming measures installed in their Queen Alexandra neighbourhood, the City of Edmonton has made these features a permanent consideration in its urban planning. 

Bike lanes and traffic calming measures were installed in Edmonton's Queen Alexandra neighbourhood thanks to Julie's efforts

“This project is about building a more sustainable city and a more sustainable world,” said Julie. “We're going to learn some great things that builders like Butterwick can apply to other people's homes to help address the climate emergency we're living in.”

Brendan, shares Julie’s passion for community and sustainable living.

“The biggest thing you can do from a sustainability perspective is reduce your consumption footprint. That’s why we bought a house with two separate units, so our consumption pattern was smaller when it needed to be smaller. Now that we have four kids, we use the whole house. After they move out, we can rent out the basement,” said Brendan.  

Brendan adds that another primary goal is to cap their living costs.

“By making your house super efficient and only having one utility bill, over the long run, this will pay off big with the energy inflation we're staring at.”

The Kusieks have also carefully managed the project scope to keep costs down because they know this is one of the number one considerations for other homeowners.

Their retrofit is partly funded by SSRIA to support Butterwick’s research and development efforts to figure out how to help the building industry make panelized retrofits economical.

“We're trying to be very disciplined in terms of scope creep. We hope that Butterwick can nail it and get to a process that is feasible on a massive scale,” said Brendan.

In 2021, Butterwick Projects started work on the deep retrofit of the Kusiek’s 1,120-square-foot raised bungalow.

The project is just the third Energiesprong-inspired deep retrofit to a single-family home in North America.

The first step was to accurately “capture” the dimensions of the home's exterior. To do this, Butterwick worked with 3D software developer Logan Gilmour to take about 30 photos from a drone. Logan then used these photos and his custom modelling software to generate a precise 3D model of the building.

This process is called photogrammetry. Peter Amerongen, a co-founder of Retrofit Canada and partner at Butterwick Projects, then used Logan’s 3D model to design wall panels that were built offsite. 

Rendering of the completed retrofit

These wall panels can be installed without removing the old stucco and rest on a pressure-treated, airtight panel support box that also insulates the upper portion of the concrete foundation. The lower portion was insulated with low-carbon EPS insulation in conjunction with new weeping tile and waterproofing.

The new exterior panels sit on top of the airtight "box beam", which Butterwick installed.

In late November, crews focused on making the building airtight, removing the old furnaces and replacing them with cold-climate heat pumps. The home also got a new water heater and a state-of-the-art ventilation system. 

The old windows were removed and the panels were flown in with a crane - right off the truck.    The panels fit perfectly, and the whole process took about two hours. The 8” gap between the outer panel face and the old stucco was filled with dense-packed cellulose from the top. 

An airtight membrane is wrapped over the old shingles on the roof and tied to the panel membrane to make the building airtight. A scissor truss roof is then installed over the old roof to provide space for new insulation and extend the overhang. Once the water-resistive barrier has been sealed from panel to panel and to the roof membrane and airtight panel support box, the building will be airtight, super-insulated and use 70 or 80 per cent less heating energy.

This dramatic increase in efficiency means the Kusiek’s will be net-zero ready and able to get all of their energy needs covered by solar, which they will add after the retrofit is done.

The Kusiek’s panel fly-in took place in mid-January 2023.

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