Providing Smart and Sustainable Solutions

Blog | December 2, 2019

When BC Housing was looking to construct a 24-unit Multifamily Housing Complex in Smithers, it needed a construction company that could step up to several unique challenges. That list included a quick turnaround and adherence to the province’s strict new Energy Step Code program where green building standards rise incrementally. The challenge for Nomodic was to adapt these standards to modular construction.


Two Steps Ahead

Addressing the Step Code requirements of Goodacre Place began with Nomodic’s rigorous upfront design phase. Goodacre Place was designated a Step 3 project, meaning Nomodic first had to meet Step 1 and Step 2 requirements, which included enhanced compliance to energy-efficiency requirements, and the implementation of higher-grade building materials. Throughout the process, Nomodic collaborated closely with BC Housing to make sure code requirements were met during every phase of construction. By Step 3, Nomodic had addressed several key issues, including:

  • Compliance to energy efficiency targets. Nomodic used upgraded HVAC solutions, including an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) which recovers not only heat from exhausted air, but also the moisture content without mixing incoming and outgoing air.
  • Increased insulation. To ensure further energy efficiency, Nomodic applied two inches of rigid insulation on all exterior walls and portions of the roof. Improved vapour barriers and rain-screening were added to protect the structure from the outside elements. Building those extras into the modules during the offsite fabrication phase (as opposed to doing it on-site) increased the speed of installation and reduced the overall schedule.
  • Increased Airtightness. At building and suite level, Nomodic created an air-tightness plan to ensure moisture and heat were not being readily exchanged with the outside environment. Smithers can experience lows of -12°C in the winter months, so increased airtightness was key to improving thermal performance.
  • Modified sunlight and natural heat exposure. Nomodic designed awning positioning to avoid the hot summer sun from shining directly into windows. In the winter months, the sun was allowed to shine through windowpanes because of angling design, allowing for natural solar heating.
  • Waste tracking and aversion targets. Nomodic’s offsite fabrication process already reduces waste going to a landfill by more than 50%. Our fabrication partners used recycling bins to ensure materials were properly sorted and distributed to the proper facilities.

Throughout the process, BC Housing recognized that environmental benefits are inherent within the Nomodic workflow. With offsite fabrication, the carbon footprint from heavy equipment, transportation vehicles, and large crews on the building site was significantly reduced. Offsite fabrication also sourced local resources, including lumber, which reduced carbon emissions from transportation. Faster installation times also reduced overall environmental waste.

Goodacre Place was completed in just under eight months, with minimal impact on the environment. The facility’s increased airtightness and superior ventilation systems reduced large temperature fluctuations, providing year-round comfort to tenants. These improvements combined with extra insulation measures continue to provide valuable energy cost-savings to the building operators in Smithers.

There are similar BC Housing projects on the horizon that also involve Step Code 3 considerations. Now that Nomodic has experience with this advanced process, it can even apply these same Step 3 standards on projects where the required code is far less stringent. It also has an eye to the future of green building by:

  • Preparing roofs that are solar-ready, and roughing-in spaces for battery storage in utility areas.
  • Providing developers with access to locally sourced, green building materials, including reclaimed wood products and recycled plastics.
  • Exploring alternatives to above-ground concrete structures. A 2018 BBC report states that cement compromises 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Nomodic is investigating several new technologies that provide comparable structural support.

BC’s goal is to have all buildings reach a “net-zero energy ready” level of efficiency by 2032. Nomodic has taken what they’ve learned from their BC Housing experience to become leaders in environmental design solutions, without limiting our core values of cost and schedule certainty.

For more information about Goodacre Place, click here.

For more information about the BC Energy Step Code, click here.

To learn more about Nomodic’s use of green building technologies, subscribe to our mailing list, and be sure to follow us on social media.

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